As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses, more companies are opting for a remote workforce. As well as protecting clients and workers, remote working also has many benefits. Forbes even states that employees are more productive when working from home.
To reach a level where people are working well from home, it's important to put in place the right policies. Here are some strategies to use with your remote workforce. These will benefit all involved and will take your office into the future.
1 Have the correct technology
For some people, it can be easy to take the office home. All they need is a VoIP phone and a laptop, and they are away.
Others may be used to working with more specialized software. They might be an architect whose work computer is packed with essential tools to do their job. For them, this makes working from home a little harder.
As an employer, it's your job to make sure workers have the tech they need. Okay, this can be costly, but people should be able to do their jobs properly at home rather than not being able to do them at all.
When it comes to equipment, make sure that employees are treating everything the same way they would in an office. That means, keeping it safe and clean, and otherwise protecting the hardware.
It's also vital to keep tech safe from hackers. Set up a VPN for a secure business connection. Then train employees in security and password protection.
2 Connect to the cloud
Whether in the office or at home, if you haven't already, it's time to connect to the cloud.
Exactly like a desktop at work, the cloud stores all the information and files a person needs to do their job well. The only difference is that the cloud is all online, rather than on one hard drive or memory system.
Luckily, it's quick to set up and easy to make sure all staff has access to it. The cloud is perfect for remote working because it lets people share work. Even if they are halfway across the world from one another. It's also a secure way of running applications.
Many companies offer a free trial of the cloud. You should take this opportunity to download a free trial of whatever tools you think may be of benefit. Just ensure that you are always following online business laws. This keeps your company, your employees, and your clients safe.
3 Create employee agreements
So, we have been forced into a situation of needing home working unexpectedly. Just because you may have been caught unawares, doesn't mean that rules don't have to be put in place.
On the whole, outline what the responsibilities of working from home involve. And then make sure that everything is set up correctly. For example, ensure there is a permanent address and working internet.
Let people know if you are or aren't happy with them working from a café or parent's address. Tell them if they can work flexible hours or they need to stick to a 9-5 schedule. Whatever they are, the rules need to be clear!
Now that the COVID situation is easing in some parts of the world, it might be time to assess the working situation. See what works and what doesn't when it comes to letting employees work from home.
Arrange some one-to-ones using a secure video conference. Talk about where things go from here. Are people enjoying it? Is it permanent? Will their working hours be reduced from now on?
Again, keep it open and keep it clear. After all, happier employees will work harder. Try and make any circumstances work for both of you.
4 Advise employees on how to work best at home
There are bound to be a couple of hitches with remote working, but if you are ready for these, then things will work much more smoothly.
A child may burst through during a meeting. That's okay. You may just need to set up a pre-recorded message or script to make clients aware of this. In general, though, people are understanding of this right now. You simply need to find ways to work around the difficulties and advise your staff accordingly.
For example, you may want to tell people to:
- Choose somewhere quiet to work and make calls.
- Make sure the internet connection is good to cut tech problems.
- Give their full attention during working hours and don't take advantage of the situation.
- Make sure they are getting a break and finishing when they should. It's as important to not overwork and burn out.
Remember that this way of working is new for a lot of people. So, try and help them where you can.
If they are wondering how to get a business phone number from home, send them over some info. Employees may ask what the best email deliverability practices are during this time. Talk them through it on a video call. Don't just ignore their needs and expect them to "get on with it."
Training and giving advice is a great opportunity to upskill, too. And any company that implements upskilling is a company that is more likely to progress.
5 Stick to office rules
You can't keep an eye on people all the time when working remotely, but what you can do is create a policy that makes sure people still have some of the same office rules.
A lot more freedom and trust is needed right now. It isn't, though, an opportunity for people to go rogue and start working as a lone wolf. Team-work is still really important. Remind people of this. There are plenty of collaboration tools that can help remote teams to work as well as they did in the office.
Another rule you may want to install is to tell staff to dress appropriately during meetings. Think like your clients and wear what you would in the office when talking with them. If you had a meeting with a company and the boss came out wearing a shirt with no pants, would you want to sign up with them?
You should also enforce confidentiality and data protection rules. This is an important one as in a home scenario people are a little more relaxed. It can be an easy mistake to leave a page of confidential info open on a laptop whilst on a lunch break.
It doesn't take much for info to get into the wrong hands, but it's a very avoidable mistake. Training will help with this. Even just a short online course on security will be of benefit.
Working from home may become more of a permanent fixture from now on. Implementing the right policies keeps everyone happy.
Try and keep it a positive experience for all involved. All this will help you and your firm be prepared for whatever the future holds.