While the number of remote workers has grown steadily over the past decade, the majority of employees are still bound to their desks. That may have made sense in the days when hard-wired connections tethered employees to physical workstations, but modern technology brings more freedom to all of us.
In the midst of a national emergency like the spread of the coronavirus, embracing that freedom becomes more than just a good business idea. For many organizations, it’s now imperative.
If your company is one of the many shifting workers to virtual roles right now, here are a few important tips to help make the transition as successful as it can be, even in this trying time:
1. Move to the Cloud
Optimizing your operations for remote work has to start with the day-to-day essentials — like the software and networks your employees rely on to do their jobs. Nothing hinders open and easy remote collaboration quite like gatekeeping software.
Many older programs can’t accommodate shifts in location, which is why it’s best to migrate from stagnant server-based software and storage to enterprise-grade cloud solutions instead. Equip everybody with access to a virtual private network (VPN) to keep sensitive information as safe as it would be over a hardwired connection. Be sure to look into Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, which can be accessed anywhere, making for an efficient alternative to providing corporate cellphones.
2. Choose Hard-Working Hardware
These days, the price difference between a system of centralized computers and a fleet of docked laptops is negligible, but the differences in freedom are incomparable. These mobile tech solutions don’t just allow your employees to work outside the office, they also solve problems inside the office. It’s much easier to meet and share information when you can carry it all with you wherever you go.
Must-have peripherals can also be optimized for on-the-go work. Think: wireless mice and headsets for every employee. Go a step further by investing in branded messenger bags or backpacks so everybody has a quality, durable solution for transporting gear to and from the office.
3. Home Sweet Home Office
Encourage employees to set up functional workspaces within their homes, perhaps by investing in monitors, ergonomic task chairs, and other add-ons to help maintain productivity and comfort when working from home. Consider reimbursing employees for some or all of their own home office expenses. These add-ons may not be strictly necessary, but if they add value to your employees’ workdays, they’re well worth it.
4. Thought Leadership Starts With HR
An empowered HR department is necessary to keep the entire organization on the same page as you make the transition to remote work. Clear communication is even more important when making these changes in response to something as serious as the COVID-19 outbreak.
HR must act as a trusted voice that can put employees at ease while explaining real risks. If your department can say with confidence that, yes, all precautions are being taken and the company campus is safe, that holds weight. If the department asks people to stay home, that too will be taken with confidence.
Moreover, it’s simply good practice to have robust communication structures in place. In any kind of urgent scenario, such as weather closures and local emergencies, you’ll need a way to keep employees easily updated as events unfold. Check to see if your human resources information system (HRIS) has a feature that enables mass communication. If not, a less high-tech solution would be setting up an office phone tree. Read more here…