Before the pandemic, 69% of businesses already allowed employees to work from home, at least occasionally. Now, most organizations have no choice but to ask everyone to work on remote teams until further notice. While many businesses were already headed towards more remote employees, no one knows how things will ultimately play out in this uncertain time, and it could mark a decidedly different future for the workplace.
The unexpected onset of Coronavirus left many employers unprepared for a company-wide move to the home office, and many are finding it challenging to stand on solid ground while we all get used to the new normal — at least for the time being — so, what should businesses focus on today for their remote teams, and what should they be thinking about for the coming weeks?
What Needs to Happen Today
1. Get Them Set Up At Home
First and foremost, do everything you can to make sure your employees can work comfortably at home, safely practicing social distancing with as little need as possible to leave home to complete their work. Make sure they have the equipment, technology, and set up at home to accomplish all their normal work. Make sure they have a way to join video calls and instant message their team as needed to keep the normal lines of communication flowing.
2. Understand Your IT Needs
Is it critical that they have their calls forwarded? Do they need a special network connection? Figure out what your technological limitations are for setting up a remote team, what you can solve, and where you need to get creative. If you can’t get a landline hooked up, can you forward their calls? If they need a VPN to access their workstation remotely, how can you make it faster and easier for that to happen on a large scale?
3. Set Expectations
Make sure managers, teams, and individuals have a clear understanding of the new telework expectations: Will you have daily video check-ins? Will they send their daily agenda each morning? What’s going to be the standard method of communication? Set rules and expectations up front so that nothing falls through the cracks and no one has to play catch up later.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Remain visible, even when no one’s at the office. Employees will be looking to their leaders to signal how things should operate, set the tone, and pick up queues for how nervous, excited, or frustrated they think they need to feel. So keep communication lines open — because there will be lots of questions! — and remain optimistic that this will be a productive time and an opportunity for some unique remote team-building.