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How to Successfully Transition to a Remote Workforce

  • Blog
  • 18 March 2020

There has been a growing trend towards remote working. Due to the global outbreak of coronavirus, that trend has become a reality for huge numbers of workers across the globe. How can organisations successfully transition to a remote workforce?

Has your workforce been asked to work remotely?

Because a remote workforce is physically less connected to your company’s central hub of activity, employees will miss out on communal gatherings. Informal moments such as team lunches, water-cooler conversations, celebrating colleagues’ birthdays, enable a group of individuals to feel like a team.

Engaged employees feel involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. This is partly obtained from their belief in the transparency of their company and colleagues.

Remote work has the potential to isolate staff, which can have a significant negative impact on team performance and employee retention. The biggest hurdle for managers and individual contributors alike, is how to build alignment and demonstrate accountability. Managers will want to ensure their reports are achieving goals on schedule, and employees want to prove to their managers that they are being productive.

How can HR professionals assist in managing the transition to a remote workforce?

Managers cannot expect their directs to be as high functioning as they usually are initially, and employees cannot expect their managers to know how to manage them remotely. Managers may need to provide employees more direction than usual to help them flex their remote work skills and get the guidance they want and need in this uncertain, new scenario. Teach managers and team leaders how to conduct offsite meetings.

Best practices include:

  1. Creating an inclusive work environment with frequent updates and full transparency as to the impact of the Coronavirus on the company
  2. Asking employees to set up a work station at home, and walking them through this as needed, providing the tools listed below
  3. Setting digital workplace expectations, creating guidelines and blocking off meeting times on everyone’s calendar
  4. Provide frequent clarity and context, so employees feel in the loop, which ultimately leads to engagement and an inclusive work environment for remote workers
  5. Promote regular remote team-building activities such as remote lunch-and-learns, monthly birthday celebrations, sharing photos, etc.
  6. Encourage staff to establish a routine: set boundaries, lunch breaks, time for exercise, staff meetings and more frequent 1:1 reviews as to their progress
  7. Create a channel for high-priority alerts that everyone can see, share, and claim when necessary.
  8. Frequent group updates and anonymous feedback surveys can also help a remote workforce feel included and give them the opportunity to voice their needs.
  9. Encourage staff to identify a remote way to recreate the environment that has kept them engaged as a team and consider undertaking similar activities online.
  10. Suggest that team leaders consider daily check-ins with those needing help to get organised.
  11. Lead with trust, as nothing is more demotivating to an employee used to a high degree of freedom and a lot of trust than to go remote and start to be micromanaged.
  12. Consider hosting work conversations on public channels that mimic the open-office feel and allow everyone to search chat logs if they need to find something that happened when they were not present.
  13. Most employees want to succeed, but if they do not know what their manager is expecting their day to be like, they will have a hard time meeting those expectations. Clarity is crucial.

Tools likely needed by your remote team:

  • 10Mbps Internet Bandwidth on a secured network
  • Communication tools like Slack and Zoom to help your team stay connected and hold virtual meetings
  • Google Drive to share documents
  • Access to VPN to connect with your servers
  • Laptop or computer loaded with all of your business apps
  • Headset for phone calls and video-conferencing

Since there are many concerns taking our attention and time right now, an important message to deliver is that we are all figuring this out together. Often, in times of crisis, people tend to be resilient. We are going to see many creative solutions. If you’re willing to learn as you go—and be patient during the adjustment period—you might find that remote work works for your organisation after all.

 

This article was written by Judy Feierstein, CEO of Transitions and Resources, Ltd; representing Career Star Group in Israel. Judy works with HR professionals as an outplacement and early retirement trainer and consultant. Read more about Transitions and Resources here, or contact Judy directly at maavarim2@gmail.com

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