The way we work has changed in the past few weeks. Since remote work has proven to be an effective solution for many businesses, this new arrangement is here to stay. We need to adjust.
Have your employees been working from home during the crisis? If so, your business recovery plan will have to reflect this new work arrangement, including all the pros and cons that have become apparent in recent weeks.
Working from home has forced employees and managers to be flexible. In the coming weeks, businesses will have to make adjustments in order to maximize the benefits and mitigate the drawbacks of this new approach.
Adjusting to remote work
Work-from-home arrangements come with a lot of advantages, especially now that work–life balance has become a priority issue.
On the plus side, remote work allows employees to cut commuting, enjoy flexible hours, fit in errands and appointments more easily. This leads to reduced absenteeism and better productivity.
However, there are a few notable issues that businesses need to address with viable solutions for the long term. Studies have found that the most serious drawbacks include professional isolation, work spilling over into home life, fewer social connections with coworkers and longer work hours.
Don’t let distance become an issue
To prevent issues arising from unrestricted schedules or a fuzzy divide between employees’ professional and personal lives, we need to find new ways to structure work.
The most common strategies include holding regular meetings (using whatever tech tools are available to you), tracking hours via employee time sheets, and setting project milestones with deadlines.
And remember that the principles for leading effective teams haven’t changed, even though people are at home.
The three pillars are:
- Have a common goal;
- Create a positive and friendly work climate;
- Establish structured processes.
Standardize your processes, but make sure you enlist the help of employees in developing and adjusting these as needed.
Even though teams are working remotely, deliverables should still be checked and approved daily. Emails are often enough, but video calls are sometimes better because they motivate employees to organize their work space, get dressed for the day and shift into work mode.
Keep the lines of communication open
Active listening and communications should still be your top priorities. Managers should make establishing effective lines of communication a priority so that employees can reach out as needed. This will prevent people from feeling disconnected. One-on-one and team meetings are also needed to share information. If an employee isn’t in the loop, they can end up feeling ineffective.
Ultimately, these measures aim to keep employees engaged and focused on achieving their personal goals and the business’ objectives.
Create a safe work environment
Employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their workforce, even if employees are working from home.
If remote work becomes the new norm, you may need to schedule videoconferences to check that your employees have safe and ergonomic work stations. Meanwhile, it’s up to employees to report work-related injuries or illnesses. This is where mutual trust comes in.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to develop a health and safety policy specific to working from home. It should cover the following:
- The employer’s right to access the employee’s remote work space;
- Who provides the employee’s devices and office supplies;
- Which part of the home may be used as the employee’s work space;
- The employee’s obligation to report work-related injuries to their manager as soon as possible;
- Applicable terms of employment, including regular work hours and overtime;
- How this policy ties in with the employer’s other policies.
You may want to offer remote training on how to use tech tools effectively
While some staff members might have a hard time with certain technologies—like videoconferencing—they’ve got to get past that hurdle because email isn’t always enough.
You can get financial assistance to train your workforce.
Plan the change
Proper planning is needed if your business wants or needs to make remote work a long-term practice. There are a lot of factors to consider, all of which are important for ensuring seamless and secure business continuity.
Keep in mind that even though working from home requires flexibility and proactive management, it could be the key to helping your business recover from the crisis.