How Can Organizations Prepare for Remote Work During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on human lives, extreme safety norms are encouraged worldwide. Many companies have fast-tracked the idea of work-from-home or remote work for their employees. As the death toll and the count of confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising day by day, organizations are forced to implement appropriate flexible arrangements to run their daily business operations seamlessly.
Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner says,
“We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement”
Several top guns, including Amazon, Facebook, and Google, are encouraging their employees to restrict themselves with in-person interactions. They have canceled all the non-essential travel and replaced in-person meetings with video calls/conferences. The idea of lowering their office populations will help in mitigating the spread of the virus.
For a large workforce, this abrupt transition of working remotely can be a considerable challenge, especially for those organizations which have never embedded remote work in their culture before. Senior-level managers can also feel inexperienced with the remote supervision of their subordinates. Lack of proper communication between employees on all levels can contribute to reduced output and low productivity.
For businesses, technology is an imperative factor when it comes to setting up a remote working environment on such a large scale. Various online collaboration and communication services can help in managing collaborative projects, scheduling online meetings, and organizing training sessions.
Fortunately, tech giants like Microsoft and Google have also tried to help by making some paid feature free for all in their respective collaborative platforms.
Some leading video collaboration platforms like Zoom, Cisco Webex, ClickMeeting, and LogMeIn are also offering licenses and extended free trials. Solution providers such as GoToMeeting have been deploying service of what they call an “Emergency Remote Work Kits” to companies affected by the COVID outbreak.
Challenges for Remote Workers
Regardless of the challenges you face due to a different industry, work styles, or lack of one-to-one contact, you must keep in mind that taking your work home imposes serious security risks.
Therefore, you must follow all the cybersecurity precautions to prevent yourself from falling into any online traps.
10 Cybersecurity Tips You Must Follow If Working from Home
Seamless Remote Communication
One of the leading challenges amongst remote workers is seamless and secure communication. It becomes imperative for companies to set up an efficient and effective communication channel as the team members are spread out across multiple locations. Even simple operations such as coordinating work hours to scheduling online meetings can become an annoyance.
According to a survey by Gartner, about 91% of the attending Human Resource leaders have implemented remote work in their respective companies. They further suggest that their biggest challenge arises from the lack of infrastructure and comfort with new technology. Confusion in communication can lead to delayed projects and slow progress. Furthermore, employees can feel out of the loop and isolated, which can lead to frustration.
Productivity and Burnout
Productivity can take a major blow when employees find themselves procrastinating. This can happen due to various distractions that they otherwise wouldn’t come across while working in the office.
On the contrary, being not so familiar with flexible working conditions of remote work, they may work beyond their working hours and experience burnout. A study shows that 22% of remote workers find it difficult to unplug from their work.
Keep Employees Productive During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Use the Right Digital Tools
Business leaders should make sure that every digital tool facilitating communication is accessible to all employees. The availability of all digital tools is essential to keep your teammate in the loop about the deadlines and projects. Many cloud base solutions such as Office 365 and G suite makes the collaborative processes easy by allowing edits on shared business documents. Various project management business solutions such as Basecamp and Trello help teammates collaborate on assigned projects.
Video solutions such as ClickMeeting, Zoom, GoToMeeting can be used to organize virtual meetings to connect with your employees. These tools allow you to host virtual meetings and webinars that ensure transparency and project progression and it syncs with your meeting calendar automatically. These tools come with screen sharing and recording options as well.
Active Participation from the Higher Leadership
Every executive from the highest of the hierarchy should be a part of all the communication channels and online tools. They should proactively communicate and engage in timely conversation. Even the CEO should be personable and approachable. When employees notice their CEO has gone digital or completely remote, they will happily comply with this new transition.
Some time to compensate for flexible hours, employees may work overtime or on unhealthy hours. Corporate leaders should set an example and motivate employees by going offline while there is no work. Spending a longer time online may lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Maintain Productivity Even in Spotty Areas
To stay safe from COVID-19 and to ensure safety, many employees will need to socially isolate or distance themselves from the general public. Many of them might likely run into connectivity issues due to patchy network reach in some areas. In this scenario, organizations should make sure that the services and tools in which employees have access to have an offline mode.
Adding tools that are designed specifically for the time of crisis to your tech stack can enable your leadership and response teams to have a better situational insight. It allows leaders to have better visibility of critical business assets as well as facilitate secure collaboration.
Set Up Policies/Guidelines Before Getting Started
Now is the time to draft a flexible/remote work policy. If you’re on the initial stage, you can draft a “temporary” remote work policy which can be amended or terminated as per the situation. You can use a policy generator or several of the template available online.
Make sure that the policy/guidelines have a clear purpose and a message that ensure the safety of your employees as well as your clients. The policy should clearly define the departments it applies to.
Due to the nature of your business, not every role may be suited to work from home. Clearly define to which departments or business units this policy applies. Many employees might need additional tools and equipment to work efficiently. Determine a budget allowance that can be allocated to an employee for extra purchases.
Stay Safe, Be Responsible and Wash Hands
Suddenly a lot of people transitioned into remote work due to Coronavirus. There is this imminent panic amongst everyone, but the best way to break the chain of infection is to work from home and maintain social distancing. Although there is a lot of information available on the internet, here are some common misconceptions about the new pandemic that must be immediately debunked.
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