Businesses were always looking for new methodologies to optimize their budget while still keeping their growth rate up. Remote Working is one method that, if implemented properly, can help offices save considerable infrastructural costs.
Work-from-home has been a common practice among offices in recent years. But now, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting most business operations, companies are seriously looking into strategies to adopt a full-time remote working policy for the entire workforce.
However, it is easier said than done. Moving your entire workforce to the cloud brings with it some challenges that can hamper your business process. Hence, it is imperative that you take note of important aspects while implementing a remote work policy for employees.
Let’s look at some of them –
1. Different Norms According to Work Process
You should try to be flexible in implementing remote work for your employees. Every department has a defined role and responsibility. Creating a common policy for each department means that some employees will get more flexibility than others. This can cause dissension among the ranks.
Hence, while drafting a remote work policy, you should keep in mind the different processes in your business. Although it is not possible to have different rules for each department, some alterations can be made depending on their nature of work.
2. Define Fixed Schedules
Your business is functional due to the collaborative efforts of various departments, be it finance, HR, or sales. Although there might be a fixed and effective workflow in your office between these departments, collaboration while working remotely is a completely different ball game.
With the employees given the flexibility to work anytime they want, it can be cumbersome at times to reach an employee. Also, the employees might be working from different time zones.
Hence, you will have to revise the company’s workflow to match the remote working needs. The flow of information among these departments should be facilitated by defining a fixed time window for the employees where that can collaborate with each other. Outside the window, they can work whenever they want.
3. Revise IT Support Response
A remote work structure is especially tough for an IT support team. Your local support team might have a low response time when employees are working in the office. However, when the workforce moves to remote locations, it can take time to contact them.
While implementing a remote work process for your business, you should update all the departments about the revised response time of the support team. You should design an effective ticketing system, where the tasks should be assigned a priority according to their criticality; the IT support will respond accordingly.
4. Assign Time for Socialization
Nobody can deny the affect water cooler gossips have on rejuvenating employees. We are social beings and want the presence of others around us. Working beside fellow colleagues brings a sense of camaraderie among employees. Hence, when they are asked to work remotely, it can instill a feeling of isolation, affecting their psyche.
Hence, you should assign a period during the day, where the employees can pause their work and talk to their fellow colleagues. It is also essential to carry out HR events for the employees. Virtual parties are a thing now. You can also conduct events like fun games to indulge employees in team bonding activities.
Appreciation cards and prizes should be handed out to the employees in the best performance, showing them that the organization values them.
5. Train Employees in Data Security Practices
In an office environment, the first thing businesses concentrate on is to build a robust security infrastructure for the processes. The systems are installed with the latest antivirus software, entire traffic is continuously monitored, and data is backed up on local servers.
However, when working remotely, the employees use their desktop systems or laptops. The hardware used by them might not be as secure as your office. Moreover, the employees might also put the company’s data at risk by mistake. According to Security Magazine, 78 percent of professionals think that employees have put the data at risk by accident in the past 12 months.
Hence, you must implement a security training program educating employees on the best practices of data security. To add an extra layer of security, you can install antivirus on the employee’s system remotely. You can also allow access through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to block any unauthorized users.
6. Facilitate Meetings
Meetings are an effective way to facilitate the flow of information and ideas among the organization. Whether the meetings are one-on-one, team, or inter-department, the meetings should carry on even while working from home.
The role of the managers comes into play when we talk about facilitating meetings. They should be instructed to assign a fixed time for daily or weekly meetings. However, the time should be decided only after consulting the team to fix their schedules.
7. Provide the Right Tools
No business can function optimally without the implementation of the right tools and technologies. You might have done the same for your business. However, while preparing your business for remote working, you will have to rethink your IT strategy and provide the right tools and platform to employees.
As already discussed, collaboration and communication are huge challenges while working remotely. Hence, you can adopt video conferencing and messaging tools like Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, and Google Hangouts. You can also decide to move your business to the cloud. By opting for cloud solutions, all your employees will be able to work with each other in real-time.
8. Design A Performance Matrix
The traditional performance evaluation method you might have deployed in the office may not work when the employees are working from home. Hence, you should re-analyze your performance metrics and try to design it according to the remote working scenario.
You can take the help of software like Asana and Trello to keep track of different processes and the contribution of employees in it.
If you have decided to prepare your business for remote working, it is essential to consider all the points mentioned above. However, what’s also important is to remember that even if the employees are working from home, they are still your employees.
You can develop a feeling that they are not as committed to their tasks from home as the office. Remember only their productivity matters, not the location from where they work.