Coronavirus has clearly disrupted businesses in the United States. Businesses are forced to come up with a new strategy to continue operations. As businesses look to safeguard employees with social distancing, they are advising employees to work remotely.As a sizeable number of businesses are still functioning remotely, there is a need to built a capable remote workforce that can handle business requirements and keep operations functioning at an expected level. During these uncertain times, your remote workforce needs guidance on how to be productive at work, meet KPI’s, and stay connected. For many companies, remote work is venturing into uncharted territory and processes are being put to the test. Discover tips and tools to engage and manage employees working remotely and help businesses navigate these challenging circumstances, following the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Outline work-from-home policies
Businesses should put in place clear guidelines, policies, and expectations for employees who work remotely. Whether it’s introducing a blanket 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work requirement, or offering flexibility in timings and letting employees set their own schedules, either should be put in a policy.
Setting schedule expectations from the start eliminates any ambiguity between employees based on time. Having one common policy for all concerned is preferable since allowing an employee to set their own schedule, but allocating set hours to another could cause employee frustration and create an unfair work environment.
- Determine rules governing responsiveness
Employers should be online and available during working hours to tackle and respond to any work assigned by their managers. Clear rules should be implemented on response times when working remotely. Define whether or not a remote employee is expected to respond to a team member immediately, and also specify what modes of communication can be used. Establishing and conveying expectations around responsiveness helps improve coordination between managers and employees and enhance productivity.
- Set productivity measurement standards
Remote work policies should specify how an employee’s productivity will be measured. Productivity can be measured using different methods, such as time spent on the project, the number of bottlenecks resolved, the number of projects handled, billing of projects allocated, amount of client interactions, etc. Companies need to decide which metrics they will use and communicate it to the employees.
- Provide adequate tools
Remote workers should be given adequate tools to manage their work responsibilities. Therefore, businesses need to determine what equipment they are able to make available to their employees. If they expect employees to acquire their own laptops, for example, then they need to specify that. Some organizations require you have a Wifi network that meets a certain bandwidth with respect to speed. It’s also important that remote workers are notified of technological requirements upfront so that they can have their remote work station ready.
- Design a strategy to keep all stakeholders notified
Design a strategy and set processes in place to communicate with all employees with important updates, news, and information. Use internal networking tools such as slack for communication within teams and departments. Employees should be required to share daily email updates with work status reports to ensure work schedules are on track. Deadlines still remain in remote work, and employees need to get the expected work completed remotely as they would in the office. Managers should ensure the quality of work is not compromised.
- Leverage multiple channels of communication
Chat solutions and video conferences can help keep employees stay engaged with each other throughout the day, and often provide a channel for them to ask questions, raise concerns and solve bottlenecks. The medium also helps them to get quick answers from managers vis-à-vis email.
- Digitize processes to streamline remote work
Employers need to get work done, whether they work remotely or from the workplace. Employees need to keep in mind that working from home is work. While some employers offer some flexibility in the work timings, the work still has to get done.
By digitizing work processes such as work hours tracking to time logging, managers can monitor work to see if it is on schedule. Time spend on each project, the status of each delegated project should be updated digitally. By digitizing work-related documents companies can save time and reduce errors. Leverage web conferencing tools like zoom where teams can participate in a call with video, screen sharing, recording functionalities, and more. Calls can be recorded to send to those who couldn’t take part in the meeting.
- Set up an efficient remote support team
Managers should be able to access, monitor and view employee work. To better manage projects, data needs to be stored in one centralized location. A cloud-based project management tool enables your remote team members to access the data needed, while simultaneously providing you with an overview of all projects. For technical support, the technical team should be able to access and view employee hardware and solve issues when a problem arises.