How to Fight off Corona Breakout with Remote Work
Less than a few months ago, the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China. Now the virus has affected 203 countries and territories around the world, with the USA having the highest number of infections (215,344).
As the disease spreads through contact with an infected person when they sneeze or cough, social distancing is the most practical approach to curb its spread right now. Authorities have placed strict restrictions, with many countries like Spain, Italy, and India declaring national lockdown for days, weeks, and even months.
Unfortunately, this approach has brought the global economy to a sudden halt as several companies have to bring down production substantially or stop it completely. However, many organizations are also coming up with remote work solutions to keep their productivity high during these tough times.
We, at InterHyve, a managed IT service company in Genève, have also taken the necessary steps to ensure employee well-being while keeping our work-schedule as unaffected as possible.
Here are a few tips that, hopefully, will help your organization fight off the adverse effects of the corona outbreak with remote work.
Assess Remote Work Options
Although remote work seems like a fabulous option in these trying times, it is not as easy to implement as it sounds. You can’t simply hand out laptops to everyone and tell them to start working from the comfort of their couch. Remote work requires resources and careful planning.
First, you need to assess your remote work options. Not all of your employees will be able to work from home. My advice is to sit down with your team members and discuss which of your daily responsibilities can be handled remotely.
For example, if you are a managed IT service company in Genève, your network administrator may need to pop into the office every other day to check on your on-site servers or computers. However, your graphic designers, app developers, and cloud computing managers can start working remotely relatively quickly and for a longer time.
You also need to prioritize each task. Make a list and eliminate the ones that aren’t urgent. Remember, as you gear up for the remote work, you will need more time to get things done, especially in the first few days. So, plan accordingly.
Set up Your Communications Well in Advance
When it comes to remote work, the first hurdle you have to overcome is communication. The last thing you want to do is keep an employee out of the loop as the deadlines keep closing in. So, before everyone starts working remotely, you need to ensure that suitable communication channels are in place.
First, you need to establish communications guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page. Draw a map for how, when, and using which channels (email, Skype, or a Zoom call) each employee needs to communicate.
Furthermore, make sure to pick a communication technology that everyone can easily use and also meets your exact needs. All your employees should be able to use the tool and all its features as and when required.
Create a schedule for weekly round-up meetings through a call or video conferencing. Make sure all the required team members attend these meetings in the stipulated time. Guide your employees to avoid any miscommunication or a delay as everyone, including your clients, is running high on emotions in these trying times.
You will also need to set up suitable collaboration tools such as Trello, Asana, or Microsoft Office 365 to help your employees collaborate in real-time. Make sure your employees are trained well enough to start using these programs.
Track Performance and Productivity
Another issue you will need to tackle is measuring performance and productivity. Unfortunately, for the first few days, some of your employees may procrastinate. You need to arrest this lapse in productivity before it turns into a habit.
At the basic level, setting up clear deadlines and sending out regular reminders can help monitor employee performance. For better monitoring, however, you can divide a project into small milestones with due dates and reminders.
Communication also plays a critical role in performance management. Communicate your expectations to all team members and ask for their input on how to increase productivity.
Distractions like Netflix or Facebook can eat away your employees’ productivity. One way to keep these distractions in check is to monitor the internet activity of your employees. Various activity tracking tools are available that can help you track, analyze, and respond to the online activity of your employees.
In addition to these steps, ask your employees to submit daily and weekly work reports to their team leaders and managers. You can also compare the productivity of your employees while they were working from the office with their remote work. It will help you to improve their productivity.
Help Your Employees Embrace Remote Work
A quick transition to remote work is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of your employees will miss the social aspect of working from the office in an all-remote culture. For example, you won’t have birthday parties, pot lunches, or even water cooler gossip in a remote work environment.
In other words, you need to ease your employees into remote work with compassion. Perhaps, you can have an online chat room dedicated to talking about the issues each employee is facing and also get creative solutions from their peers.
Sending out messages and emails about how the business is doing or running online quizzes and competitions can also help take off the stress of working from home. You can also consider sharing gifts, photos, movies, and books online. Talk to your HR manager to chalk out a plan to help your employees embrace remote work.
With the corona outbreak mounting by the day, remote work is fast becoming a new-found reality for many organizations. However, the transition from the regular office environment to all-remote work culture is easier said than done. Hopefully, the above four tips will help you make this transition as smoothly as possible. Feel free to share your doubts and ideas on fighting off the corona outbreak with remote work in the comments section.