The current COVID-19 crisis has many businesses globally mandating employees to work from home due to Government requirements. This could be a major adjustment if you are a company who is new to working remotely. You and your employees may have been unprepared to turn living spaces into workspaces for the foreseeable future. The daily social interaction with colleagues will change significantly, therefore, feelings of loneliness and isolation may develop. It is important during this time that your employees feel safe, looked after and valued.

Whatever the size of your business, you must remain agile. You need to challenge pre-conceived ways of operating your company. You will reap the rewards in the future if you show capability and success of remote working now. If correct processes are put in place now, then after the outbreak, you will have a more flexible, better prepared, and more productive workforce.

Remote working also fosters trust between you and your employees. If you trust them to get on with their work without your constant supervision, they will be more content and confident in their job. This helps you as a business owner. You will soon learn that you can leave the office and have peace of mind knowing your employees care about their work and will have the same level of productivity at home.

Here are some tips on making remote working effective:

Planning

As business owners, you know that if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. Ensure your team have the tools they need to carry out their job. It’s important you continue to provide excellent service to your valued customers, maintaining and securing business continuity. However, in order to do this, you must ensure staff can work effectively, stay motivated, stay connected and feel included in the team.

Staff Coaching

It is crucial that each employee is well equipped for remote working. You and your management team should regularly discuss the logistics of remote working with their team members. This discussion should include: guidance on creation of a quiet workspace; forming a schedule; limiting interruptions (whether it be from social media or members of the household); maintaining regular working hours and scheduling proper breaks. You do not want your team to suffer from burnout by them working 24 hours a day due to the face they are based at home. Find out what your team’s concerns are and help them in the best possible way.

Establish daily routines

To enable a structured approach, it may be useful to begin the day with a team meeting allowing employees to report and summarise on the previous day and set intentions for the day ahead. If you haven’t already, you may want to introduce project management apps or progress tracking tools. It is important to sustain your team’s focus to ensure productivity remains high and projects are moving in the right direction. 

Benefit from inexpensive tools

Collaboration software for audio conferencing, file sharing and communication prove invaluable for remote working. Most companies are already familiar with such tools including Slack, Google Hangout and Zoom. Choosing tools which enable video conferencing and screen sharing for presentations and files is highly beneficial.

Manage online meetings tightly

It is strongly recommended to implement a robust meeting policy to ensure that meetings are effective and that each one is time-limited, has a clear agenda and that outcomes, actions and owners are agreed.

Keep motivation high

In this current climate, the wellbeing and mental health of you and your employees is imperative. Create opportunities for colleagues to socialise together and regular video conferencing meetings to help reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Frequent and positive communication is also key.

Keep rewarding and praising

Although your business may be struggling with cash flow, go out of your way to praise and celebrate successes. For example, arranging a case of beer or bottles of wine to be sent to each staff member so that you can have Friday 17:00 social time, albeit remotely. You can meet online and celebrate successes and have a laugh. This boosts morale and long-term will help with staff retention.

Use the current period to plan

Use this quieter time to allow development of products, your capabilities and improvement of processes and application. Look forward and look ahead to a happier, successful future.

With all the negativity surrounding the virus, it is important to remember there are many positives for your business. Your business will greatly benefit from being able to react to the unexpected which will increase your productivity permanently. Your employees will come out the other side equipped with more skills, and enhanced trust between staff and employer.