How to Prepare Your Company for Remote Work
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The corona-virus outbreak continues to spread throughout the world. More and more companies are seizing their public operations and business owners all over are encouraging their employees to work from home. The Times calls this the “World's Largest Work-From-Home Experiment
” and unlike some companies that were prepared for this, many are diving in headfirst, without any time to prepare.
Even though at first it may seem that adjusting to working from home is scary, there’s still plenty you can do to successfully transition your business. If you need any help with managing the work while at the same time figuring out how to make sure your employees stay productive, stick around for some of the tried-and-tested ways to make it easier.
Make Sure Your Employees Have All the Needed Tools
Just like you usually wouldn't be able to start working from the office without your laptop, you'll want to ensure that all your employees have the tools needed to get the job done. Tools like Slack or Zoom encourage social interaction while at the same time helping your employees stay on the same page, even with asynchronous communication.
Just like your employees need the right tools to do their work, you also need the right tools to manage the work and the employees. For managing your projects, you’ll most likely continue using the usual software - Base-camp, JIRA, or some other one. However, these tools only cover one part of the project management process. How do you make sure your employees are actually doing the work you’re paying them to do? Many companies that are employing remote workers or that are working with freelancers are using employee monitoring software
to track how productive their employees are.
Set Expectations Clearly and on Time
Many employees don't know what's expected of them at work. That's not good, but what's worse is sending those employees to work from home. This is why business owners and managers must clearly state their expectations. It’s the only way to ensure all of the employees are on the same page and heading in the right direction.
Agree on how you communicate. It's best to keep it all on one platform. Slack, email, or anything else you prefer. Just make sure you pick one platform and stick to it. Also, choose a time-frame for responding.
Be careful about how you delegate tasks to employees by effectively giving them responsibility and ownership of the tasks. Definitely try not to micromanage your team. Let them have their space, and organize frequent checkups in a time-frame you’re both comfortable with.
By clearly setting expectations from the get-go you’ll ensure that everyone on your team is doing their part.
Help Your Employees Develop Remote Working Skills
The differences between working from the office and from home are huge. Not everyone is there at the same time, and that can take a toll on collaborative efforts simply because sometimes it's just too hard to connect with teammates, no matter the tools they use.
One of the most popular approaches to better collaborative work is called Working Out Loud
. It's based on the book of the same title, and it basically advocates that employees narrate their work into the digital tools they use. By doing this, teammates can keep in touch, support each other, collaborate and align themselves while providing the rest of their network with exact information on time.
Cultivate a Company-Wide Remote Working Culture
While this goes beyond the individual employee, it's important you start preparing the broader organization for creating an environment that is more effective for remote working. With so many software designed specifically for remote workers at our disposal, it's important to use them in such a way that they change and improve the overall culture of the company itself.
However, when something unexpected, like when the corona-virus outbreak happens, the culture of the company can quickly change and you need to make sure it changes for better.
Be open with your employees, encourage them to participate, allow them to learn new skills and use all the digital channels you have to make it easy for employees to engage and connect with you more frequently.
A Few Takeaways
We all know that this situation is bad and that many people are scared of what’s coming. However, that doesn't mean companies shouldn't do everything in their power to make remote work as easy as possible.
And who knows, maybe when all of this passes, people will want to continue working remotely. 99% of nearly 2,500 remote workers surveyed in Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work
said that they want to work from home for at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
Does that mean that remote work is here to stay? I guess we’ll find out.
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