For some employers, implementing a working from home initiative could mean navigating completely new territory – so it’s important to make sure your business is ‘remote-ready’ to ensure your current team, and any new hires, are supported to make the transition to a home-based working environment.
While this means investing in the right tech, it’s crucial for teams to have all the information at their disposal to thrive when working remotely. Take a look at your five-step plan to gear up your business for remote working.
Providing the right communication tools is critical to ensure your team members and any new starters do not feel isolated. So think beyond traditional email and ensure you’re utilising communication platforms that make your team feel connected. This includes instant messaging (IM) platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Workplace by Facebook, as well as video conferencing tools such as Skype for Business, Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Such tools maintain a sense of community within your organisation, help remote workers fit into a company culture, and allow co-workers to get to know each other informally.
Employee hardware and working environment
How will your employees perform their jobs, and perform them efficiently and safely from their homes? Think about the core hardware you’ll need to deliver to employees so they can carry out the basic functions of their job, such as a company laptop, wireless mouse and charger.
Think beyond traditional email and ensure you’re utilising communication platforms that make your team feel connected.
While it’s the responsibility of your staff to ensure their homes are work-ready in terms of connectivity and creating an appropriate workspace, think about what you offer in the office - such as back supports, ergonomic keyboards, additional screens and noise cancelling headsets - and touch base with your team to see whether their home set-up significantly hinders them in any way. Offering what you can to your employees will make them comfortable, boost productivity and raise morale.
Employee resource centre
Create a repository of information for your employees that can be accessed remotely – imagine a scaled-up version of your company intranet. When a new remote worker has a question, think about having a search facility they can query before having to reach out to another team member.
A resource centre or intranet can host important process documentation and core files too. Any required employee training - such as health & safety and anti-corruption - should all be accessible online for new users to complete as soon as they have access to the platform.
One of the first problems associated with dispersed teams is a lack of visibility over shared projects. Rather than waiting for scheduled meetings to keep updated on progress, project and task management software such as Trello, Asana or shared Google Docs allow teams to organise and view work visually, assign tasks to team members and share and record necessary information to complete work.
What’s more, managers can quickly and easily oversee projects and track the progress of their employees without having to physically check in.
Best practice guidelines
Clearly outline your remote working process for current and new hires. If your organisation uses multiple communication and project channels, create a short guide to explain how each channel should be used. For example, emails for non-urgent requests, IM for quick questions, phone for urgent queries, scheduled calls for project updates and text when you can’t reach a team member by call.
Set expectations around when employees should be online and able to connect. Recommend that employees set aside regular breaks and designate lunchbreaks to ensure your team is available around the working clock.
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