As the world grapples with the unprecedented challenges brought about by COVD-19, the need for social distancing has forced most companies to have many of their employees work remotely from home.
We feel fortunate in that we have been developing and implementing this structure for several years to address a more geographically diverse workforce. If this is new to your business, you will have some catching up to do, but here is what we learned over the years.
- Communication is critical.
- The ability to have instant messaging, video chat and screen sharing is essential to be able to have employees integrate into the work environment.
- Establishing touch points with a remote work force keeps them informed and connected with the organization.
- Client and customer communications require special attention and advanced phone systems.
- Technology Requirements
- We learned early on that we needed to have written minimum standards of what hardware, security and internet connections people needed to have in order to work effectively from home. These requirements are different based on each person’s specific job role.
- Security is critical. You need to develop strong security standards for everyone. Just being “in the cloud” is not adequate security.
- Internet connections are probably the biggest challenge since they are tied to someone’s home and potentially other non-business services. As the world is immediately forced in this direction, we expect network problems through the large providers. Expanding your connectivity will increase productivity and minimize frustration.
- Policies and Procedures
- We needed to manage our remote employees differently, which forced us to develop policies, procedures and expectations.
- Unfortunately, not all employees have the discipline or work space to effectively work remotely. Setting policies as to when they work, productivity levels, minimum expectations, etc. allowed us to evaluate employees that we do not see every day.
- Develop KPIs. We needed to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to allow us to measure our remote employee’s performance and how it relates to our organizational goals and measurements.
- Engaging remote employees. It is easy to isolate remote employees, so it is important to make sure they stay engaged and connected to the organization. There is a balance though between keeping them connected and being inefficient, so be aware of overall productivity and what works best for your organization.
- Automated workflow is critical. We spent most of our time developing automated workflow that allowed us to get beyond physical files. We still have constraints with physical documents, etc. but adoption of social distancing becomes the norm we should be able to re engineer some of these processes.
- Innovation is key. Workflow needs to be continually innovated and re engineered. This is something that needs to happen all the time by everyone in the organization. Staying focused on the big picture idea (allowing remote employees to work effectively) helped everyone improve the systems and process.
- Outside adoption. We have had issues with getting clients to adopt some of these automated systems and “new” ways of doing things. As we move into social distancing this should improve the adoption. Fortunately, we have the systems and infrastructure in place for them to adopt and do not need to develop them.
Like every aspect of your business, this requires attention, management and capital investment. We will be glad to share our experiences and what worked for us. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more or have us help you develop an environment right for your business.