In the past few episodes, we’ve talked about the importance of open communication. Today, we’re here to talk with Energage Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Doug Claffey, about challenges organizations are facing with a workforce that has transitioned – virtually overnight – to remote status.
What leaders should track in the transition to remote working
Remote working is not a new concept, really. Many organizations had already started to make this switch. But as we all know, the pandemic has accelerated the transition. Now, companies have had to make a shift within a matter of days. Some have done it better than others. So, let me offer five things leaders should consider if they want to set-up employees for success:
- Home environment
- Online meetings
- Caregiving responsibilities
1. Good technology is at the heart of working from home
To be effective at working from home, it’s important for employees to have access to good technology. There are a couple of key elements: 1) Using a tool that enables continuous communication such as Slack or Teams, and 2) Setting expectations around how best to communicate, especially with email.
Online meeting software is another technology consideration that’s getting a lot of attention right now. Whether you choose Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or another platform, this technology is important to maintaining connectivity with your dispersed workforce.
2. A home environment with minimal disruptions is best
Setting up a productive working environment at home is critical – and it’s going to be different for every employee. From loft apartments to dedicated home offices, encourage employees to set-up a business-focused area with minimal disruptions.
3. Online meetings when everyone is remote
Remote meetings really aren’t a new thing, at least for some. But in the past, it was the in-person, on-site group that dominated the conversation. And traditionally, it was challenging to contribute as a remote participant.
Many folks are working from home exclusively so that dynamic has changed dramatically. There are core elements of online meeting etiquette that make a big difference in terms of that human connection. The first is to enable video. The second is to be courteous. Show up on time, be present, and pay attention to the meeting.
4. An increased need for responsiveness
This becomes more important in a virtual setup because you can’t see fellow employees. The ability to walk over for an impromptu discussion or to ask a question no longer exists. Encourage employees to be mindful of their availability, whether using Slack, Skype, or another platform. And remind everyone to keep their status up to date.
5. Striking a new balance for caregivers
This issue is really specific to the response to the coronavirus crisis. Schools and daycare facilities have closed and kids are at home. As a result, parents are suddenly faced with additional responsibilities. And in addition, many employees have suddenly have become caregivers for elderly or vulnerable family members.
This likely means an employee’s availability to work at certain hours during the day requires flexibility. Acknowledge this upfront. It’s important to demonstrate understanding and work with caregivers to ensure that they can honor their obligations to the company, but also their responsibilities at home. This is an enormous shift, and it’s a cause for a lot of stress.
How to ensure your workforce is prepared to work remotely
My first suggestion is to encourage managers to have one‑to‑ones with their employees and make sure they check in regularly. My second suggestion is a pulse survey. This is an incredibly efficient way to get important feedback. Make sure you pull that data together. Find where you have hot spots in your organization and then focus on addressing them.