Over the past few weeks, an increasing number of organisations have begun to implement remote working measures in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Remote work has its proponents but it is not without its difficulties. Traditional office practices will have to undergo an incredible change in order to meet the needs of employees working from different locations. Consequently, leaders and managers will need to thoroughly prepare themselves in discerning how remote work can be utilised to meet their organisational goals.
Transitioning to remote work is a process and it cannot happen overnight. As such, here are 4 steps an organisation can take in order to make the transition easier.
1. Put together a remote working team
Remote working is very different from employees working in one centralised location. Different digital systems and tools need to be utilised in order for employees to continue working. Meetings, brainstorming sessions, editing documents will all have to be conducted online now. While there are plenty of technological tools out there, not all of them may be the right fit, having a dedicated team that will compile all the right tools for remote working will be beneficial. Furthermore, the people in this team should also serve as touchpoints for other employees to approach whenever they are running into technical issues.
2. Re-orientate expectations and goals
Undoubtedly, certain organisational goals will have to be re-evaluated so that remote workers are able to meet them. In times of such crisis whereby many industries have been hard-hit, organisations may have to reconfigure their goals and narrow down their focus on which goals matter the most. This means going over their processes and workflows, and re-defining responsibilities. That way, remote workers will have clarity on their desired outcomes and have a clear direction on what they need to do.
3. Constantly check in on employees
There may be a culture shock for employees are engaging in remote work for the very first time. On top of having to familiarise themselves with new technologies, remote workers have to deal with their personal and professional boundaries being blurred. Thus, leaders and managers should regularly have check-ins with their employees to make sure that they are coping alright and be more understanding during their adjustment period. Communication should also be two-way so that employees can give feedback. That way, organisations can gauge which areas they can improve on and make remote working more conducive for their employees. Additionally, employees will also feel supported and be more motivated to make their circumstances work.
4. Reward desired behaviours
This step is especially important in the current situation. Transitioning to a different way of work may cause a lot of confusion but there will also be a lot of creativity as employees try to adapt to their new circumstances. As such, behaviours that help the organisation achieve its goals should be acknowledged and rewarded. As employees who work remotely often find it difficult to see tangible results, being acknowledged for their hard work will be a great source of motivation. Furthermore, other employees will also gain clarity on what practices they should employ to achieve results while working remotely.
Remote work is the future of work. - Alexis Ohanian
In times of drastic change, there are always opportunities for improvement and innovation. Organisations should adopt a "learn and grow" mindset because they are bound to make mistakes when they first transition into remote work. Recognising what is not working and changing it quickly will be an essential skill during times of crisis. Remote work may seem unsettling and confusing at first, but as organisations slowly adapt, they will be able to find tremendous benefits. Organisations that successfully adapt to such changes will find themselves stronger and better for it as well.