What Do Employees Need To Work From Home: A Virtual Guideline

With the first rounds of coronavirus vaccine distribution in its infancy stages and another spike in coronavirus cases across the U.S., companies nationwide have been scrambling to implement effective remote working scenarios. As a reaction to the ongoing uncertainty of the Covid-19 crisis, many major companies have announced that their employees have the option to work from home – and in some cases, indefinitely. Although the learning curve has been both aggressive and demanding, both management and their employees have learned to adapt to what many industry experts consider “the future of business”.

As quoted recently in the Harvard Business Review, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg indicated that at least half the company’s 50,000 employees would eventually work from home. He added, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale.” In addition, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter and Square’s employees would be permitted to work “where[ever] they feel most creative and productive…even once offices begin to reopen.” While this may sound forward-thinking (and even optimistic) in theory, many smaller businesses may be concerned at implementing the strategies required to maintain a long-term telecommuting scenario that may go beyond the pandemic. So what specifically do employees need to work from home successfully? And more importantly, what will businesses require in order to continue the transition from onsite staff to a partial – or even fully remote – workforce?

 

Business Assessment: Determining The Remote Needs Of Your Workforce

In order to implement a viable (and scalable) plan for what could lead to a permanent work from home scenario, businesses need to take multiple factors into consideration – namely, identifying employee productivity modules, what their employees will need to work successfully from home, what their company’s technological needs are, and how to set their team up for long-term success.

But in order to ensure productivity levels are met and communication modes are optimized across all platforms, your company’s decision-makers need to determine both your business’s budget – and what intelligent workplace services, tools and digitization are required to ensure the success of your mobile workforce.

Some key points for businesses to consider when implementing remote work policies include:

 

1)      Update your company’s hiring policies: If your company is transitioning your team to a remote workplace, chances are that you’ll want to update your hiring policies, too. In order to avoid confusion, outlining team expectations – whether they work onsite, remotely, or both – will ensure everyone is on the same page. Ensuring new hires will be a good fit goes beyond qualifications – prospective candidates also need to have the basics, such as a secure internet connection, a dedicated cellphone, and a home PC or laptop. However, it’s also just as important that they are a good fit for the team – qualities such as independent, self-motivated creative types may be ideal depending on the role, whereas other remote positions may require highly-adept communication, specialized skill sets, or leadership experience.

2)      Define remote workforce policies: While many companies may have the capacity to hire remote employees, they may not have the appropriate protocols and remote work guidelines in place. Before transitioning your company into a remote-work scenario, it’s essential to provide team members with transparency, including company policies, goals, expectations, and other basic information that needs to be adhered to.

General remote policies might include these basic touchpoints:

  • Employee availability & schedules: Be sure to indicate your company’s expectations as far as employee availability. In other words, does the employee/team require a set schedule (e.g., 9am-5pm), or is their flexibility in their hours?
  • Tools & technology: What type of tools, software, social media platforms, and other digital technology are employees expected to use for effective collaboration and communication? In the remote workforce, video conferencing tools have become the norm for company meetings, while ProofHub is an online management software that is often utilized by remote teams. Be sure to provide remote teams and employees with clear expectations when it comes to remote work tools and software programs that will be utilized in their position.

3)      Consider data management: For the sake of sufficient project management, employers may wish to consider implementing a project management system to help teams to organize tasks and documents remotely. For example, sharing information securely via cloud integration may be a safe, cost-effective and efficient solution for your business’s document management initiatives.

4)      Track productivity: Tracking your team’s productivity working from home can present a whole new set of challenges if your company isn’t set up to work on a remote basis. Therefore, it’s important to devise and implement a plan for measuring productivity, progress and results before going remote. In order for a smooth transition, managers may want to consider professional Managed IT Services to ensure team communication and collaborative efforts are coordinated right out of the gate with the appropriate tools, configuration, installation and IT support.

 

Employee Engagement: Remote Management Tips For Success

Described by Forbes as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals”, employee engagement is a critical factor that shouldn’t be overlooked in the remote workforce. However, employee engagement should not be mistaken for employee happiness – they are not one and the same. Employee engagement essentially defines the conditions a company must create in order to cultivate the potential and capabilities of an employee. In an era where it is easy to overlook the value of human interaction that an onsite office environment provides, many experts agree that putting an emphasis on adequate employee engagement is not only important, but crucial to a company’s success – even beyond Covid-19.  

On the other hand, this is not to say that an employee’s emotional well-being, health, and teamwork should not be addressed within a remote work situation.  In addition to providing encouragement and feedback to virtual team members, management should also focus on their employees’ work-life balance, and check in with them routinely to determine how to address work-related challenges and goals. Now, more than ever, businesses need to evaluate job satisfaction factors for their employees.

 

Below, are some tips to help employees to set up a home office that is conducive to working efficiently:

  • Create a list of work-from-home guidelines/resources: For many employees, this might be their first time working from home. Consider creating a list of recommendations to help navigate them through this professional transition. This may include suggestions such as setting boundaries at home – for example, advice on explaining to family members that even though they are home, they’re working. This is something your company’s HR and/or communications department may want to generate.
  • Encourage employees to design a healthy & comfortable home office: For anyone who’s worked from home, you know that one of the best investments you can make is a good office chair. Other items – such as an ergonomic seat cushion, adequate lighting, a dedicated office space (if possible), a second computer screen for cross-referencing multiple documents – are just a few of many creature comforts and personalized details that employees may want to incorporate into their work-from-home routine.
  • Establish company protocols early on: Once your virtual team is set up to work from home, be sure to establish basic ground rules and policies – for example, virtual conference etiquette, standard practices for interoffice communication, and any other related items that might require specific guidelines. Setting precedents early on can help reinforce a positive collaborative experience, while identifying company-wide expectations, parameters and agreed-upon responsibilities to ensure the success of the team.

Although working from home during a pandemic is anything but normal, virtual employment is here to stay – at the very least, for the time being. Creating routines, setting realistic and attainable goals, and implementing the necessary tools for effective communication between staff and clientele can help leverage your business while improving your employee engagement. In addition, inviting feedback from management, staff, customers and other colleagues can further enhance your business’s insight into the challenges – and growth – of the remote workforce.