The coronavirus outbreak has put Italy on lockdown, suspended travel from Europe to the US and prompted business leaders to encourage employees to work from home. Businesses ranging both large and small are asking employees to work remotely in an effort to slow the spread of disease without interrupting day-to-day operations. Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple have all urged employees to work from home if they can.
As companies take part in what Time Magazine calls ‘the largest work from home experiment’, business leaders will need to ensure they have the right procedures and tools in place to keep their employees engaged. Here we have set out 10 tips to help you prepare your business for remote working.
1. Create a working from home policy for your employees
Set clear guidelines in a ‘work from home’ policy. This should define who will be working from home, any equipment requirements, working hours, obligations to information security and what software will be used to communicate between colleagues and clients. This will make employees aware of what is expected of them whilst they are remote working.
2. Identify and address any specific issues that individual employees may face
Survey your employees to identify any issues or concerns that they may have before working from home. Ask questions about what type of software and equipment teams need. This will also identify whether your employees have the security measures in place for remote working. If time allow, test out remote working in your business to identify any gaps or improvements that could be made.
3. Ensure your communications and network infrastructure can withstand the impact of large-scale remote working
Ensure your employees are able to communicate with each other and their clients remotely. Make sure your internal communications and network infrastructure is able to handle increased volumes during this time. Reliable remote meeting technology is essential. Many VoIP-based conferencing solutions are designed for majority on-network usage, with just a minority of remote usage. When that situation is reversed, they experience network choke points which can cause audio quality issues.
4. Control information security risks
As workers connect from living rooms and coffee shops, using a VPN adds a security layer to private and public networks, including broadband and internet hotspots. This allows your remote users to access corporate resources and applications through a secure and private network. Having security policies and training materials available will ensure your employees know what to do to prevent security threats and what to expect if they experience a security incident.
5. Provide employees with the equipment they need to work from home effectively
Ensure your employees have all the right equipment to perform their jobs effectively. This could include laptops, headsets and monitors. Ensure you maintain an asset register detailing the whereabouts of all company electrical assets.
6. Create guidelines for employees on how to work from home effectively
Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to keep them productive, collaborative and to ensure a constant steam of communication. Help your employees by creating a routine for them – when they should start work, when they can take breaks. Providing a work management tool like Asana will also help your remote workers plan their day and tasks better and will give you an easy way to assign new projects, track progress of current assignments and gives them transparency of who is doing what and when. Encourage your staff to create a quiet, comfortable environment where they can focus. Setting expectations can be a strong motivator for remote workers. Agree on a clear set of goals up front so that both parties are aligned with what is expected.
7. Ensure regular top-down communication to keep everyone informed
During this uncertain time, many businesses are applying remote working for an indefinite period. You need to ensure your employees are kept informed on any changes or updates across the business. Whether through a company-wide email, a weekly all-hands conference call or dedicated chat communication channel such as Slack, make sure you regularly communicate with all your staff, so they know what is going on.
8. Keep a check on health and wellbeing
Working remotely for long periods of time can become monotonous and detrimental to mental health and wellbeing. Encourage your employees to take regular breaks, exercise and stay hydrated.
9. Ensure effective team communication to keep everyone engaged
Organise a daily huddle call with your team. Keep it brief (10 – 15 minutes) and ensure your team know what are the “must dos” for the day. This will keep your team focussed and create a rhythm for the day. Also, make sure you have schedule 1:1’s with each of your team members and make sure you still cover topics such as career development and objectives.
10. Don’t forget about the social aspect
It’s important to ensure your employees are keeping their social connections with each other strong whilst working from home. Provide them with a virtual space where they can connect socially. Whether it’s a Slack channel for team members to post funny pictures of their pets or a Friday end of day one-hour video call for your team members to talk about anything new in their lives, their plans for the weekend, or a great movie move they saw. Even 15 minute coffee breaks via video conferencing throughout the week can keep employees feeling connected.
Ensuring you and your employees are prepared for remote working can help engagement and productivity levels remain high. If you’re a manager, it’s on you to provide clear communication and it’s also crucial to keep up morale. That’s particularly key if people end up working from home for more than a few weeks.
How LoopUp can support large-scale remote working at your business?
If professionals at your firm need to work from home, you’ll need an effective remote meeting solution to stay connected. But many VoIP-based web or video conferencing platforms are struggling to deliver a reliable, high quality service. With LoopUp, all audio is carried over regular phone lines, so audio quality is 100% reliable. It’s also simple to use and quick to roll out with a simple pay-as-you-go model and no set up cost. LoopUp has been Stress-tested to safeguard service and support during these unprecedented events. Find out more or experience LoopUp for yourself with a free trial.