The CDC is providing information for businesses to plan, prepare and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many companies are now encouraging or requiring their employees to work from home. See the full list of companies working remotely here.
As businesses shift their everyday operations amid COVID-19, we are actually gaining a glimpse of what the future of work may look like. It requires being able to adapt quickly with your people and your strategies as the new workplace demands it. Every day we’re seeing sharp decreases in travel and in-person collaboration, causing a higher demand for video conferencing and for employees to work from home. In the space of a few weeks, companies have aggressively moved into remote work in order to sustain business and create a healthier workplace for their employees. According to The Verge, both Google and Microsoft are offering free access to their more robust tele-conferencing and collaboration tools that are usually only available to enterprise customers to make it easier for people to work from home.
The question is, how do we adapt to insure productivity and communication stays high as we work remotely, with so many things changing on a day to day basis?
Transitioning to remote work allows businesses to continue to operate without disruption, while limiting the amount of interactions between individuals. It’s important for teams to think ahead and create a plan that will allow everyone the necessary resources should a remote work situation be needed for your team. With proper communication and support, companies can manage their transition quite well, as this outbreak has proven. The future of work is here!
If your company decides to make the move from a collaborative office environment to working remotely, here are some tips to make it a smooth transition.
Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Trust and communication are two of the biggest challenges every company experiences regardless of remote or in-person environments, and the fear is that issues will increase in a remote work situation. If anything, it’s amplified when there is separation amongst teams. It’s also a two-way street. Businesses have to trust that their employees will remain productive and do their jobs, and employees have to communicate and provide their employers with regular updates. More than ever, a strong culture plays a critical role in creating trust between your teams and leadership.
It’s also important that both parties set boundaries early on. Agree on when to communicate and how often. Teams should also decide on a timeframe for responses. Remote communication can fluctuate between spamming of inboxes to wondering if the other person still works for the company anymore. Discuss availability and decide on times when you can meet and work collaboratively. Remote work doesn’t have to span 9 to 5 which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how your company decides to operate.
For example, we have a communication pact of 48/5 that everyone is accountable for at DH. This means we need to respond to each other within 48 hours even if that response is we are still working on a solution. A communication pact is essential regardless if your team works remotely or not.
Setting clear expectations from the beginning can help ensure you have laid the groundwork for trust, and we all know how important trust is in the work environment.
There are plenty of software and cloud-based programs available today which make remote work much easier. From communication channels to task management systems, most businesses can operate effectively together from anywhere in the world.
Here are some of our favorite tools:
Slack Over-communicating is key in a remote environment. Slack’s unique platform allows for better connectivity in a single place so teams can share messages, tools, and files. Conversations in Slack happen in dedicated spaces called channels, ensuring team members stay in the loop and improve organization. The best part is you can turn off notifications during off-hours so everyone has a chance to unplug, which is also important.
Asana Task management programs allow management to create task lists, set deadlines and monitor progress for themselves and their team. Our go-to task management system is Asana because it has over 100 integrations to choose from allowing teams to streamline emails, files, and tickets all in one place. It’s also very user-friendly and intuitive making the transition fairly simple.
Dropbox This cloud-based software allows teams to organize their content in one place with easy access from a computer, mobile device, or any web browser. Most importantly, it’s secure so it keeps important company data safe. Think of it as your virtual file room!
Zoom This software-based video conferencing tool offers different plans to meet your company’s needs. It syncs with your calendar to enable video or phone calls with anyone in the world from your desktop or mobile. Working remotely doesn’t have to be isolating. You can still have face to face meetings virtually. It allows you the option to record your meetings and store it to the cloud, and you can share your screen with the team for a more interactive meeting.
If your company is preparing to operate remotely, keep in mind that there are many benefits to this style of work as well. According to FlexJobs:
There are a lot of concerns around maintaining business practices while also sustaining positive company morale during this crisis. If companies were experiencing toxicity in the workplace before all of this, it’s even more critical to get things on track in that realm.
At DH, we have what is called a ME-WE-Community model. Employee engagement or productivity has transformed into an experience that touches different parts of your organization and it doesn’t just stay within the individual employee level. In fact, it starts at the singular level [what we call, ME], but it moves outward towards the team level [WE] and extends into your business’ community [partners, vendors, customers, etc.].
In this case with COVID-19, when we focus on the ME, we address emotions such as fear, uncertainty and anxiety as we navigate our transition. When handling communication, operating remotely, and maintaining a strong culture in times of crisis, we are addressing the WE and as a result, the community. As you can see it’s a ripple effect and we are all interconnected.
With the right culture and behaviors in place, and holding everyone accountable, companies can experience a smooth transition to remote operations. Here at DH, we’ve been a remote company since we launched in 2010. Let us know if we can help empower your team and create a happier culture for a more sustainable future.
Does your team have a contingency plan in place for remote work? Please share more in the comments below.