The COVID-19 health crisis has drastically changed the way we work. With Hawaii’s stay at home, work from home order in effect, many employers suddenly find themselves leading a remote workforce.
People are being thrown into the deep end to juggle work and caregiving while dealing with high levels of emotional stress. Essential businesses and employees are scrambling to figure out how to keep things running.
When it comes to remote work arrangements, we like many Hawaii businesses are learning as we go—flying the plane while building it. Here are a few tips we’ve used to make this transition as we work towards the new normal of successfully managing a remote workforce.
Ramp up the technology
Make sure your employees have the right equipment, can access relevant emails, files, and software, and know how to participate in virtual meetings from home.
Create clear channels of communication and require everyone to use them. You don’t want employees relying on text messages and personal emails.
These tools are easy to install and completely free in their basic versions.
Take advantage of community support
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, many companies are also stepping in by offering their products or services free of charge. Connectwise will provide employers with less than 25 computers with a free remote workforce solution.
Locally, Hawaiian Telecom pledged to waive all late fees for small businesses impacted by the pandemic and to open its Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who may need them.
Minimize security risks
Be alert to IT measures that minimize security breaches. Provide guidance to your employees on what is allowed and what isn’t.
For example, are employees allowed to save confidential information onto their private computers, call clients from personal phones, or use personal email accounts?
Communicate with your employees what steps they all should take to help minimize remote-work-related security risk.
Set realistic expectations
While it’s normal to have concerns about productivity, there will be a learning curve. That said, employees who work remotely are reportedly more productive than those who work at the office.
In fact, experts suggest that remote employees are more likely to overwork, so keep an eye out for stressed employees and address concerns as appropriate.
Rather than tracking moment-by-moment activities, keep an eye on the bigger picture and track overall productivity with, for example, end-of-day project status reports.
Maintain a strong work culture
While culture may not be top of mind in an emergency, keep in mind that this could be the new normal and you want to keep your team strong.
Employees who are not used to working remotely may feel disconnected from the business. Consider ways remote employees can feel connected to each other and the organization.
Tactics include scheduling virtual team lunch meetings, creating fitness challenges, or sharing remote work tips.
To support employees feeling overwhelmed during this uncertain time, share tools on how to manage stress and anxiety. If available, point them to your company Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Look on the bright side
While right now is a stressful time for everyone, try to look at the positives that might come out of this situation. There are many employer benefits related to remote work, and who knows, maybe remote work will become the new normal for your organization going forward?
Employees that are given the option to work remotely are said to be happier, more productive, more likely to recommend their company, and less likely to leave their current jobs.
Organizations that offer remote work options can benefit from cost saving as a result of increased productivity, lower overhead costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness (Source).