We're facing a challenging time for our world. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shows us the widespread impact an uncontrollable situation can have. Organizations around the world find themselves in different phases of managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no doubt that the work culture will be forever changed by the current pandemic.
The current crisis is indeed a test case for technology-based remote working, and businesses worldwide will learn an enormous number of lessons on how to effectively communicate with employees, clients, and partners at a distance. Leaders will learn how to manage different employee tasks and project phases, advancing complex projects without direct interaction.
Here are 11 remote working lessons to be learned from this crisis for the future:
1. Work from home should be an option
During this time many people learned that their jobs were possible to do from home. Once the virus outbreak ends, you can discuss it with your manager for the possibility when necessary. Most jobs have a certain amount of work that can be done remotely. Without the virus in place, there should still be some system in place that will promote work-life balance.
2. Taking sick leaves to minimize infection
If you are feeling sick, just stay home. Lots of people feel like their office environment doesn't encourage taking sick days. Many people want to appear dutiful to their managers. “Look, I am sick, yet I still came to work. Look at what a hard worker I am?” This mentality needs to change. Embrace remote working and not infect others.
3. Remote work policies and procedures
Review your operations and determine if there are positions and duties that can be handled fully remotely. If so, develop policies and procedures to allow employees to work from home. The current crisis can be taken as an example of a test run. This allows you to test your technology and hardware. Have each employee take a day to see what works and what doesn't, such as login info, printing needs, phone routing, video conferencing, and document signing.
4. Establish team guidelines
Remote work looks different for each employee depending on their needs. Organizations can meet employees' needs by empowering teams to adapt to their conflicting time demands. For instance, teams can set “core team times” where all team members are available to collaborate.
Check out our blog for tips on remote collaboration.
5. Creating a working structure
Teams or whole business units working remotely can quickly result in confusion and a lack of clarity. That's why establishing a structure and architecture for decision making and effective communication is key. Here, smaller cross-functional teams can be helpful, each with a clear mission and reporting line, where directions and tasks are easy to implement.
6. Continuity of work and information
Prepare your team for the long-term absence of one or more members or the departure from regular procedures. Be sure everyone is backing up information and leaving necessary materials and files in the office unless they will be working remotely. Cross-train employees to cover if one person is absent.
7. Learning the right WFH routine
Remote workers are learning several simple, helpful lessons: remain on a consistent schedule, define your workspace and your living space, maintain noise control, and establish breaks. Another important lesson is that we all need to create boundaries to separate from work from home.
For helpful work from home tips: Click here
8. Leading from a distance
Managing people is one of the most difficult elements of remote working. Leaders need to energize the whole company by setting a clear direction and communicating it effectively. t's essential to foster an outcome-driven culture that empowers and holds teams accountable for getting things done while encouraging open, honest and productive communication.
Check out our blog for more: A team leader's guide to managing remote teams.
9. Adopt a 'Trial and error' mentality
Be ready to recognize what isn't working and change it fast. Teams that continuously learn, actively identify best practices, and rapidly set up mechanisms to share ideas tend to be most successful in the long run. R&D teams at one leading high-tech manufacturer created a productivity target for remote work by estimating their productivity each week relative to onsite work and identifying levers to improve it.
10. Home workspace is a necessity
With remote working becoming a new normal, it is essential to have a workspace set up at home so that you can be productive all the time. For employees working from home permanently, it is of more importance to get equipped with the right setup. It is more than just a desk and a chair. With a clear thought and planning, you can have a space that maximizes your efficiency.
Click here for more ideas for a perfect work from home setup.
11. The power of technology
Effective remote working starts with the basics—including a fast, stable, and secure internet connection, as well as other digital tools. Remote working is also empowered by a suite of SaaS (Software as a Service) technology tools that allow teams to effectively co-create, communicate, share documents, and manage processes. Businesses need to adopt these tools and it requires effort including training teams on how to use them and defining new ways of working.
The Key Takeaway
Forward-thinking businesses are watching the current WFH experiment closely to see how it plays out and to quickly learn the lessons it has to offer. This will be of vital importance in the future and it will be helpful to adapt to a new normal.