As we write this, Coronavirus is appearing in different workplaces across the country and around the world. Organizations are quickly evaluating their ability to have a large part of the workforce working remotely. Some organizations have been doing telework and remote work for years; others are just getting started.
Here are some tips for both jumpstarting and sustaining your remote work environment.
- Get phone trees updated! You need both work and home phone numbers and email addresses for all employees, so you can quickly notify them of changes to your operating status. Your managers also need to understand expectations if rapid communication is needed.
- Assess gaps in equipment – phones and laptops. Some employees may already have laptops and cell phones, while others – like secretaries or internal back office staff – may not. Assess how you will get equipment to staff in the case where more hands are working from home.
- Assess your digital divide. Some of your employees may be used to telework and have everything they need at home ready to go. Others may not even have Internet at home. Consider needs for Internet hot spots on cell phones for staff that need them – and teach staff how to use them.
- Assess teleconferencing and video conferencing tools. If you are not already set-up for easy teleconferencing or videoconferencing with Zoom, Google Meet, Adobe Connect, WebEx, Go-to-Meeting oranother video conference tool, now is the time.
- Communicate with your customers. Let your customers know what’s going on, and how to reach your team. If your services must change, communicate what is changing and how you will stay in touch.
- Establish a mentoring buddy system. Consider pairing up experienced teleworkers or remote employees with new teleworkers to support on-the-job training about working remotely. Make sure the experienced member understands that their role is to help the less experienced person onboard into remote work.
- Hold daily check-ins or stand ups. Hold team-wide calls or videoconferences to check in, share news and answer questions. As people settle in, inject manager- or staff-led project updates or customer service successes to keep people focused on the mission, and to start establishing a sense of the “new normal” environment.
- Recalibrate performance and delivery expectations. In the current environment, it is smart to adjust expectations, with an eye to maximizing customer and mission impact.
- Be patient. This is an uncertain time for everyone.Give people a chance to settle into this new work setting – and recognize that this is NOT business as usual. For anyone.
Most important: talk with your employees and listen to their feedback and ideas. Showing your staff you trust their judgment provides empowerment in uncertain times.