Today many workers are sitting in their make-shift home offices for the first time. Many more will soon be working remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spreading, many companies are encouraging their teams to exercise social distancing or requiring historically in-office employees to work from home.
Whether your teams are seasoned remote workers, or this will be their first time working outside the office, a distributed workforce doesn’t have to be a hassle. Technology and software make many jobs easily adaptable to a home office environment.
Whether it is a short-term initiative, or you’re playing the long game with your remote workforce, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Fill the Toolbox
The first step is to build a remote infrastructure. Ensure your team has the tools they need to execute their job effectively from anywhere. Does everyone have access to a computer, and do they have the necessary software installed? Are firewalls up to date? It’s time to check your VPN and make sure it can handle the increased need for remote work.
If you don’t already, invest in collaborative software. Video conferencing, messaging, and project management tools are critical to successful remote workers. Since team members can’t roll over to each others’ desks or meet in the conference to brainstorm, you need virtual tools are to maintain collaboration. Having a video conference has the same impact as an in-person meeting, and project management software helps team members share and give feedback on projects.
2. Set expectations – for workers and leaders
For many of your team members, this may be the first time they are working from home. It’s essential to set expectations and give them support along the way. Outline best practices for a home office, such as having a quiet, dedicated workspace that is free of distractions. If you expect them to maintain the same work hours, let them know. If they have more flexibility to start and end their day earlier (think of the time saved with no commutes!), tell them.
In the beginning, you may need to outline scheduled collaboration time. Outline goals and let them know you will be monitoring their work. Keeping people honest may give leaders peace of mind, and will also let workers know they are not alone.
You may need to educate your managers as well. Since they no longer have the ability to walk through the office to keep up on their team, they will need to learn how to manage a team they cannot see.
Keep in mind that not every person will thrive in a remote environment. Some people need camaraderie and a structured cubicle to focus. Be patient, support, and guide them through this transition.
3. Avoid isolation
Speaking of isolation, remote environments can be lonely. Workers who are not familiar with working alone may struggle (at least in the early days) with not having their favorite co-workers nearby. Although office chatter is time wasted that could’ve been spent on work, this social interaction gives people joy and comfort. It may be an adjustment to transition from a bustling office to their home desk with their cat.
Regularly engage your team. Instead of walking by their cubicle to say hello, send a “good morning” message. During the day, have a 5-minute call just to see how they are doing. Schedule a 15-minute video meeting to chat. Survey your team to see how they are adjusting to the new work environment.
4. Continued Support
Be prepared for situations that may arise. Once you get over the initial hurdle of sending your team remote, how will you handle additional tech issues? If a team member’s computer breaks or they need a new piece of equipment, have a process in place before it happens. Anticipate the needs of your team as much as possible. A prepared team is an efficient team.
If integrating the remote workforce will be part of your ongoing strategy, consider ways you will incorporate professional growth, community responsibility, and your company culture in remote workdays. In-classroom learning sessions may no longer be a viable option, so take into consideration ways to keep your teams knowledgeable in a virtual environment.
Embracing a remote workforce may be intimidating at first, but it can be a valuable benefit for your team. Many workers are looking for more flexibility in their work lives, and having a remote option is very appealing – especially if you are recruiting. If sourcing appropriate talent and fighting attrition are still significant challenges in your company, Liveops can help. Our network of remote agents meet the elastic needs of your business when unexpected events tackle your operations. Learn more about how Liveops can transform your contact center.