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The Coronavirus – a.k.a. Covid 19 – outbreak is forcing organisations all over the world to send their staff home, putting to test their business continuity planning. This means that businesses that have the structure to enable people to work from home can remain productive amidst the outbreak and other disaster situations.
I love to work from home but only under certain circumstances. I only enjoy it when I have a task or project that requires serious focus. Otherwise, I prefer the energy and banter in the office. So how can we help our staff prepare for the lone working environment, handle stress and overcome the isolation effects of the Covid 19 pandemic?
Take a typical day in the office, the chat, the meetings, the advice taken and received and all banter that goes with it. Try pausing it. For most business owners, this idea feels eerie.
Now put yourself in the shoes of the newer staff, the interns and other team members that look to others for guidance and assurance that they are doing the right thing. It tells you one thing: more input. A lot more input and leadership are going to be required to help those staff and protect them from the stresses and pressures that come from isolated working.
Hopefully, you have clear staff roles defined. If not, thanks to the Coronavirus, you have more work to do. Deciding things like this for the first time during a pandemic outbreak is going to be tough, but it’s critical to helping your staff know that they are doing a good job.
In our business, we manage the workload of the bulk of our team. They are clear on what they have to do and what good looks like. They need to communicate with each other and escalate work to colleagues where required. Even with this clarity, some staff might tend to feel isolated.
The key for us has been to have regular huddles which are performed using MS Teams Meetings. The specific technology doesn’t really matter, and other alternatives such as Slack, Zoom and GoToMeeting have waived some of their fees and offer free solutions.
Once you choose the technology that suits your purposes, you will need to help your staff bed them into place. We suggest starting slowly where possible. Make sure they all have the technology, headphones, cameras etc. to make this simpler. Make sure that your team also know that we are all prone to distractions such as kids or crazy canines that need walking. We need to be understanding and flexible.
We have broken down the main recommendations in three headings; Team Motivation, Meetings and Managerial Advice. Towards the end, we are also recommending the best guides and in-depth articles about remote working. By learning and implementing these practices in your organisation, it will be more resilient and flexible than ever, while remaining productive.
Doing your part in keeping the team motivated is vital, but it’s also crucial that you instruct the crew in practising and developing their own productivity habits while working from home. In a usual scenario, you would have plenty of time to prepare your team, but due to the rush in getting things done during the coronavirus outbreak, people are bound to feel out of place. Be disciplined in your efforts, and you will facilitate the transition for them.
Sharing some material and tips from experienced remote workers has proven to be an excellent start, and we found two links to help on that:
Tips for working from home, from experienced remote workers;
Working from home when your kids are out of school – especially useful now that school classes have been paused due to the coronavirus outbreak:
Another common difficulty shared by businesses is in conducting meetings remotely. Again, this topic is particularly sensitive during the Coronavirus outbreak, as the official recommendation from the health authorities has been to avoid physical contact. There is a large number of companies that rely on meetings to present their services or close new businesses, and they must adapt to survive during the reclusion time.
For more tips on Virtual Meetings, we recommend this article by Harvard Business Review: What it takes to run a great virtual meeting
Managing remote teams can be challenging as with any change in the way that you work. For this reason, we have compiled some guides from some of the world’s leading companies in remote working.
Some of these companies were born remotely or made the transition with time. Between them, one should match your managerial style and bring some refreshing insight that you can apply in your reality. To get started rapidly, we recommend the article Transitioning to remote work in a hurry, made by Zapier. After focusing on these first aspects, you can proceed to reflect in more depth on this critical topic. Click on the blue links below to dig deeper into each guide.
As you may have noticed, enabling your workforce to work remotely is not a simple task – and one surrounded by multiple challenges. Even more so in the current global situation. Many of our customers were forced to adapt quickly due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and this seems to be the case for many businesses around the world.
Most companies still lack the structure to work remotely, such as the devices, configurations, and tools that one would require (VPNs, file sharing, cloud servers). Others may have the basics in place but are not yet able to do it securely – without compromising their critical files and database.
Most business owners are too busy to learn about the level of detail needed to abide by best practice and ensure optimal performance while working remotely. Hence, we recommend finding a partner to facilitate this transition.
If you need any advice on how to activate your team to work remotely, feel free to make contact with us. We have assisted numerous customers in this task, and hope to aid others in difficult times.