Has the coronavirus pandemic thrust your company’s once-thriving office culture into the uncertainty of working remotely? Are you worried about potential effects on productivity or client service?
Such a drastic shift in where, when and how your employee’s work can have a major impact on your business operations but providing the right resources and guidance can help smooth the transition during this uncertain time.
Here are some key tips to help your employees stay productive at home:
- Make sure your employees have access to all the technologies, systems and hardware they need to be successful. If your company is not accustomed to working from home, start by providing suggestions for how to outfit a home office, including technology recommendations to ensure your employees are able to access critical business systems. Provide training tips on new technologies, such as video conferencing, to ensure your team is most productive at home.
- Be flexible. Allow employees to work with their direct supervisors to identify the schedule that works best for them. Employees may be struggling with a less than ideal remote work environment, with children home from school and having to share workspace with a spouse or roommate. Giving your employees flexibility will help minimize stress and maximize productivity.
- Communication from top leadership is crucial to calm fears and offer reassurance during uncertain times. Have your CEO consider filming short and frequent video messages that can be easily distributed company-wide to keep everyone connected and informed. (Tools like Loom are great for this.) Also, encourage employees to stay in constant communication with their coworkers and supervisors about availability, progress, deadlines and challenges. Utilize multiple methods for staying in contact, including text, email, phone calls, virtual meetings and chats. Managers should schedule regular check-ins with their team to maintain productivity and keep morale up.
- Find fun and original ways to keep employees connected. Working remotely can be isolating for some individuals, especially if they typically thrive off the social interaction of being in the office, so find new ways to keep employees engaged and boost morale. Start fun virtual challenges, like an inter-office competition where employees share photos of their impromptu home office setups; reward the most creative ideas. Start a post in your company’s intranet where employees can share fun photos of their new “coworkers” (a.k.a. their pets or their children). Other ideas might include hosting team events on virtual meeting platforms, like virtual brown bag lunches or virtual happy hours to keep people connected.
- Encourage the use of virtual meeting platforms. Working in isolation doesn’t mean that meetings need to stop. Reschedule any in-person meetings but utilize virtual platforms like Zoom and Skype for both internal and external meetings. Use these platforms to simply stay connected as well. If using a platform like Zoom, encourage people to use the video functionality; seeing each other’s faces can help make the connection more meaningful and effective.
- Encourage your employees to practice self-care. Working remotely does not mean that employees need to be tied to their screens all day. Encourage your employees to take breaks to go for a walk (while practicing appropriate social distancing!), check-in with a friend over FaceTime or do an online yoga class to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Have a plan for technology and service interruptions. As mass amounts of people across the country transition to remote work, technology challenges will be inevitable. Some platforms may experience downtime, and many individuals will deal with technology issues at home. Make sure employees know what resources are available to them for assistance and, most importantly, practice patience and encourage individual troubleshooting as a first line of defense.
If your employees are transitioning to working remotely, share these tips with them, and provide ample resources to help them be as successful as possible. Many technology companies offer extensive, helpful guides online, such as this ultimate guide from Zapier. Most importantly, make sure your employees feel supported and reassured that their work can continue as usual even when it feels like the rest of the world is turned upside down.