As the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds many business owners are being forced to move some or most of their staff to working remotely. And if you are like a good portion of my coaching clients, you really never gave remote work much thought before.
In the past, you may have been afraid of losing productivity or you might have worried about whether your team was actually working or not. Which are all valid concerns. But having worked with a remote workforce for the better part of 25 years, here are some tips that I can share to help increase your productivity with a team that is working from home.
1) Talk with your staff.
What you'll find is a lot of them actually know a lot about working remotely and can share what has and hasn't worked in their past. So, start with your leadership or management team. See what they know about remote work if you're not comfortable or you don't know much about it. You could even talk to some of your peers locally or if you're part of a business group or online community you can ask for advice on best practices.
2) Realize that this isn't forever.
The key thing with this part is taking the time to talk with your team about what your concerns are and what you're trying to do. Don't make this a permanent thing. Start off with a remote team during this time of social distancing, and adjust as needed after 30-60-90 days.
3) Getting Started.
When it comes to the mechanics of working from home you need to begin with your IT team to determine what tools each team member will need during this time. For the majority of businesses, it costs about 10X less to have a remote workforce vs having them come to the office. You no longer have to have the shared overhead of rent, desks, furniture etc. At most, you need to supply your team members with a company laptop if they don't already have them. The majority will already have the internet and a place to work within their home.
The next thing you need to consider is your video conferencing options with solutions like Zoom or www.GoToMeetings.com or skype. These are all low cost options and allow your team to stay connected regardless of their location.
4) Come to An Agreement About Responsibilities and Expectations.
Before you let an employee work remotely, it is always a good idea to get clear on expectations and what it looks like to work remotely. Discuss responsibilities, reporting and what you expect out of each team member and department during this transition. If you took the time to hire the right people, you will be pleasantly surprised how the majority of your staff will actually exceed your expectations.
My experience after working with hundreds of remote employees and vendors, is that they get more done working remote and it ends up being a great benefit for all parties involved. After this crisis is over, you may choose to stay remote or give them the option to work from home one or two days a week moving forward.