Transitioning your office to remote working conditions can be a challenge – in this article, we've rounded up 9 steps to help you make the move as quick and easy as possible.
1. Talk to your team
When shifting your team to remote work, it’s important that you explain why this is an important step in light of the current situation. Some of your staff might be worried about this transition, whereas others may find this improves their productivity. Whatever the case may be, make sure everyone understands what will change establish a sense of comfort and certainty.
2. Go through your employees’ workflows
Sit down with each member of your team and go through their workflows from start to finish. Make a list of the tools they’ll need to keep their work processes going, even when working away from the office: from computers and headsets, to a stable internet connection and access rights inside your corporate portal or other work tools.
3. Create routines and structure
It may seem that managing and controlling your team and projects will be more challenging once everyone is remote and unsupervised. To prevent any issues and keep things running smoothly when you’re out of the office, make sure you:
a) Establish a sense of routine through short weekly or daily conference calls and one-on-one online meetings to see how everyone is progressing and to discuss any sticking points
b) Encourage employees to self-organize and maintain a structure when it comes to planning out their day – including work hours and breaks, as well as very concrete plans and objectives
c) Set up a system of reports to view how everything (and everyone) is progressing
d) It’s also a good idea to use a shared calendar to keep deadlines in view and ensure everyone is on the same page.
4. Establish a sense of community – no matter how far from the office
A sudden change in your employees’ working environment can be very stressful. Human beings are social creatures and spending 8+ hours a day with your laptop as your only companion is distressing, particularly if you’re used to being surrounded by colleagues. Make sure your teams have all the communication tools they need to stay connected to make the switch to remote work as comfortable as possible. Schedule regular online meetups to establish a continued sense of unity and togetherness.
If your team is happy, your business will keep going and thriving, no matter what conditions you have to face.
5. Stratify your staff based on risk factors
The World Health Organization (WHO) have warned that those over the age of 60 and with underlying health conditions are more at risk – so make team members that fall into this category your top priority when transitioning your company to remote work. Those who are at higher risk should be sent home as early as possible.
6. Determine which teams can’t work remotely
The most basic example is departments dealing with paperwork and documentation. If you have legal papers that need to be signed or stamped, you’ll need to come up with a system that allows the relevant department to do this in electronic form, or re-organize their schedules in a way that cuts down their time in the office to a minimum. For example, schedule one day a week for filling out and signing paperwork. Which brings us on to the next point:
7. Create a safe working environment inside the office
Ensure all those who have to stay at work have an isolated workspace and can stay in quarantine conditions – that means spreading everyone out and potentially moving some team members to a different work area. The main goal is to limit physical contact between team members as much as possible.
8. Inform your clients
When switching to remote work, some important processes that were office-based may not function as well they did before – and some may be out of service altogether. If your business relies on office-based work processes, come up with a strategy that will inform clients of any issues with support or orders in way that demonstrates sensitivity to any potential problems or frustration this will cause. This is essential to maintaining a strong relationship with your customer base, even during this challenging time.
9. Educate your team
Finally, if you have the time and resources, educate teams on how to work effectively in remote conditions. From company- and job-specific guidelines to how to organize their workday and how to make the mental switch to working outside of the office – something that’s often (mistakenly) disregarded.
The most important thing is to ensure your team is safe and well throughout this uncertain time. We wish you all the best of health and hope that this checklist helps make your move to remote work a lot smoother.
For further information on leading and working through a pandemic see the free resource guide from Harvard at https://hbr.org/insight-center/coronavirus.