With the coronavirus forcing countries to enter lockdowns, companies are now struggling to come up with ways to facilitate work from home, so that the overall workflow remains uninterrupted while employees remain productive, within the safety of their own personal environments.
Here are 7 ways that can help your business achieve a smooth transition from the regular working environment, to working from home.
1.Hop on the Cloud
If the coronavirus quarantine and lockdown has crippled your operation, it means that you were in a dire need of an upgrade. Modern technology means that you are able to move your workflow onto the Cloud, go fully digital, and work remotely – businesses that simply stick to tradition and fail to keep up with the latest technology trends will be left behind. While there are a number of options, the two main tools that can be used to fully integrate your company in the digital era are Gsuite (available from Google) and Office 365. These powerful online tools allow you and your employees the freedom to access work from anywhere, on almost all devices. Learning how to effectively use these tools is paramount – not just to survive the coronavirus lockdown, but to take your company to the next level.
2. Making sure that employees have the right equipment
The first and most important thing that managers need to check (which often goes unnoticed until it’s too late) is making sure every employee has the necessary equipment which allows him/her to successfully work from home. Most people already meet this requirement, as a simple laptop would suffice. Managers should double-check to ensure that employees have a personal laptop at home, as some households only have a shared computer.
Following that, managers should ensure that every single employee has all necessary access codes to log in to shared platforms from home.
3. The right (online) tool for the right (online) job
Technology provides us with all the tools to work from home if we know where to look! And the best news? Most of these online basic packages are free! If you are searching for a messaging communication platform, you can use Slack or Flowdock. If messaging isn’t enough, and you need to have a face-to-face chat, Google Meet, Zoom, FaceTime, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams are at your disposal!
The most challenging aspect of working from home is proper coordination and effective project management for a team that has minimal contact with each other. Enter project management platforms Asana and Trello, whose basic services are – you guessed it – free!
Each employee should have the latest version installed on their computers, along with all necessary login credentials.
4. Daily, morning communication
Studies have shown that one of the biggest challenges of working at home is the feeling of isolation. Feeling cut off from the team, employees tend to be less productive. How can a company deal with that? An early morning online meeting, even a ten-minute conference call is enough to show employees that despite not being in the same location physically, they are still part of the same team. Besides boosting morale, this also serves as a reminder to employees that working from home actually means working and not slacking off.
5. Clear guidelines on breaks
While there is, of course, no way to monitor whether someone working from home is sticking to the schedule, employees must be given free time and lunch breaks, during which they are allowed to be away from the computer. During all hours not designated as break time, employees should be required to be available if their input is needed. So that everyone is on the same page, most online communication platforms offer “status updates” where a user can mark himself/herself as away from the computer or on a lunch break.
It should be noted, of course, that even if they are on a lunch break, they should always answer work calls.
6. Schedule a virtual coffee
Reinforcing camaraderie and a sense of team spirit is instrumental to fighting off feelings of isolation and making employees more productive. And what says “we work together” in a better way than having a cup of coffee and a chat? Schedule a virtual meeting between colleagues aimed only at enjoying a cup of coffee and chatting about your day. Maintaining daily working habits and routines is essential, as it signifies to employees that despite the unusual working conditions, this is still their work environment.
7. Keep in touch with clients
As mentioned above, keeping up with routine tasks is key to successfully shifting your operation at home. Among them, keeping up with clients. There is no need to cancel client meetings; simply conduct them online! Invite your clients to virtual meetings and let them know in person that your company continues to operate as if nothing happened. Show off your flexibility as an organisation and (why not?) impress them with your versatility. You can even go the extra mile and advise them on how they could do it themselves. Set up virtual training classes or guide them through the right tools to best help shift their operations online, to ensure they never stop being effective and productive!