At present, the whole world is enveloped in grief and anxiety caused due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is largely due to the highly contagious nature of this epidemic. Since contracting this virus means risking the safety of one’s family and loved ones, it is quite obvious that people are going to be reluctant to travel to work. As the consequences of this pandemic can be life-threatening and increase the chances of potential lawsuits seeking damages, companies must transition into the remote work culture. So, it only makes sense to establish or enable a remote workforce until there is a definite solution to this pandemic.
Key advantages of enabling a remote workforce
- Remote Workforce plays a pivotal role in disaster management.
- Creates a better work-life balance which can boost productivity.
- Allows working with minimal or no in-house employees, which reduces infrastructure costs.
- Lowers the risk of potential lawsuits filed by employees for exposing them to COVID-19.
- Positive impact on your workforce because you come across as a caring employer.
- Reduction in operational costs, resulting in a profit maximization.
If done the right way, setting up a remote team can not only prevent the spread of coronavirus but can also pave the way for cost reduction and profit maximization. So, if you have always established and managed a physical team, then it’s time to adopt some new managerial strategies. You must understand that there are going to be some initial hiccups as you transition into the remote work culture. To help overcome those ‘hiccups’, we decided to put together some managerial strategies that enable your remote employees to perform their very best.
Set a Schedule
From the very beginning, make it obligatory for your employees to work on a schedule, as that helps keep things organized and formal. So, if your employees have been working from 9 AM to 5 PM then tell them to stick to those timings and seek prior approvals if they wish to work on a different schedule. This is to ensure that the team does not sway from its targets and deadlines due to an informal work environment. Also, you do not want to go through the horrors of managing a team that works in a disorganized manner. Since most business processes are intertwined, it only makes sense for everyone to work together in a coordinated manner.
Your next big challenge is to ensure that your employees stick to their schedules and deadlines. This may have been easier when you managed a physical team, but not anymore. Back then, it meant walking to their desks or checking their access card details. Since you are embracing remote work culture, which is the new normal, you need to find novel technologies to keep your team organized. One way of doing that is by making use of a centralized time and activity tracker such as EmpMonitor. You can also use it to schedule tasks and check individual or team-wise progress. Using such a tool offers readily available data that you can skim through on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
A Remote team can be highly productive or just the opposite and the outcome largely depends on your management skills. To keep your team doing their best, you need to provide them with the required flexibility, but without compromising on productivity. As your team is likely to be attending to their children and other domestic chores, you need to be more patient with their work hours. Still, you must ensure that they put in at least 8 productive hours into their work. Unless you do that, you could end up paying your employees for unproductive hours which can skyrocket your overheads and decrease revenues.
With technology at its best, you can easily do that by measuring employee productivity by using software to track and analyze keystrokes, application-wise usage, and more. Even better, if you can use the same software solution to schedule and assign tasks. Moreover, if all of that data can be compiled into a report automatically, then you have all the data you need for periodical employee assessments. One such rare solution is the EmpMonitor – employee monitoring software, which can help you make the right business decisions by monitoring productivity and enabling you to provide meaningful feedback.
Communicate more often
Companies that work without silos tend to stand through the test of time and this also applies during the coronavirus phase that’s rapidly taking down organizations. So, if you wish to stand tall through this economically devastating phase then you must set up your remote workforce in the right manner. Doing this comes with one of the biggest hurdles, which is the potential absence of regular and frequent communication. Since this could lead to the silo culture and a score of other problems, you need to plan a communication strategy beforehand.
Your remote employees can communicate in three ways — emails, instant messages, and via cellular phone. While project status and related updates are best communicated through emails, it only makes sense to discuss common glitches over chat engines. Direct or instant messaging is a quick and easy way to communicate, which makes it ideal when one seeks quick responses. Also, you need to up your managerial skills and promptly conduct those regular town halls, group meetings, and one-on-one meetings as well.
In fact, you need to do this more often while managing remote employees. So, if you previously held weekly team meetings, then make that twice a week to stay better connected with your team members. Also, remember that all work and no fun won’t be appreciated by your employees. So, make it a point to host web-based birthday bashes for your employees with something as simple as a karaoke challenge or some other online games. The idea is to avoid letting the remote work culture hamper your team’s relationship with you and one another.
Create a Database
Since all your employees are working from home, encourage them to include their cell phone numbers and Skype IDs in their email signatures. Also, have someone listing out the contact details alphabetically for all your employees and putting it on a shared folder. The documentation must include contact details such as cell phone numbers, Skype IDs, corporate email IDs, along with their respective designations. Doing that enables your employees to communicate quickly and effortlessly, as and when required.
Set up a secure cloud storage
Remote work culture requires the exchange data outside the corporate network, which is often done through freeware. Google, one of the most trusted cloud storage service providers isn’t always the best pick as it comes with some major drawbacks such as limited data storage and the possibility of the data being indexed unless you assign email IDs to restrict access. As indexed data shows up in the search results, you run a serious risk of potential data leaks as not all your employees might be aware of this possibility. Also, there are some other concerns that come with freeware such as lack of centralized control. So, we recommend using premium cloud storage services such as IDrive or ZooZl in order to keep your data secure. Both these cloud storage service providers offer highly secure encryption and enable centralized control.
Provide access to the right people
Once you set up the cloud storage and other essential tools, you must limit its access only to the most trusted employees with the necessary instructions. This prevents loss of data and reduces the attack surface, which in turn minimizes the possibility of security breaches. Also, it ensures the hierarchical distribution of data, which ensures better control. If required, consider amending the employment agreements of those in key positions to make them responsible for data security. This can save you from an influx of problems arising due to free access to confidential data.
Lay down Security Guidelines
Security guidelines play a critical role in the success or failure of a remote workforce. More so, with the increase in security breaches such as DDoS, phishing, and ransomware attacks aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. According to reports, there has been a 2 percent decline in cyberattacks aimed at individuals but a rather sharp increase in ones that target businesses. Therefore, in order to successfully establish a thriving remote workforce, businesses need to adopt the right approach. As managing a remote team literally puts your management skills to test, you need to do things the right way. Else, you could end up with lower productivity, which in turn, increases your organization’s overheads. So, to help you sift through these challenging times, we bring you some of the best techniques and strategies.
- Educate and inform your employees about cybersecurity threats.
- Remind them of their liability if things go wrong due to deviation from the security guidelines.
- Schedule regular penetration tests.
- Make your employees install employee activity tracking software like EmpMonitor.
- Strategically plan the flow of confidential and sensitive data.
- Emphasize the significance of using encrypted data connections.
Working from home comes with a varying set of challenges for your employees, which is influenced by the size of their household and the resources that they have access to. So, be more understanding and supportive especially during these tough times. If they lack resources such as encrypted data connections, firewalls, or Antivirus, make that available to them.
Embrace the right Corporate Culture
As your employees work from their homes, you need to be more supportive and understanding than ever before. So, instead of being curt and brief, try being more elaborate and friendly. You do not want to be a virtual Cop that’s keeping a tab on them all the time. Instead, you could monitor them without even letting them know about it by using employee trackers like EmpMonitor. So, if you notice a decline in their productivity then instead of attacking them, give them a chance to explain their reasons. Find ways to work things out as even a small considerate gesture during these difficult times can go a long way. Also, adopt the open-door policy and encourage your employees to reach out to you in case of any issues whether personal or professional.
When you transition into the remote work culture, you need to make some serious changes in your managerial approach. Doing that could be a cumbersome process unless you possess prior experience in managing remote teams. That is why we recommend that you adopt the above mentioned managerial strategies. The key to empowering a remote team is by understanding their concerns and addressing them effectively. Finally, as a remote manager or employer, you must invest in the right tools that the remote work culture demands. That lets you adopt a strategic approach to set up a robust remote workforce that is highly productive and efficient.