In the new world of Covid-19 and shelter-in-place ordinances, many businesses that have never considered working remotely as an option for their employees are now struggling to get up to speed and adjust to this new way of engaging a workforce.
Here at Blink;Tech, our team moves comfortably between an onsite office environment and remote workspaces – often in different states or even countries. We’ve learned over time how to leverage the positives of remote work while tackling the negatives, and want to share with you some of what we’ve learned.
The Benefits of a Remote Workforce
- Less need for a physical office space which means less overhead.
- Workers have more free time since there is no commuting.
- Workers can move to be closer to family or more affordable real estate markets.
- Asynchronous communication means time is used more efficiently.
- Access to a much larger pool of talent when hiring.
Can Your Business Work Remotely?
Obviously not all businesses are able to function with remote workers. But even restaurants and other service industry businesses might be able to leverage some remote strategies to keep the business moving forward in the current pandemic. The key here is to think outside of the box and be open to new ideas.
If your business seems perfect for remote work but you don’t know where to begin, know that switching to remote work is much easier if your employees have worked face-to-face and have developed a rapport with one another. There are going to be a lot of adjustments and considerations, but if your team is positive and helpful with one another, going remote will become a shared experience and may even be fun!
Communication is Key to Remote Work
This may seem like we’re stating the obvious here, but there is a bit more to it than meets the eye. Choosing communication tools such as Skype, Zoom, or Slack is the easy part. Communicating with your team when there are not as many social cues available as there would be in real face-to-face communication, however, can be a bit more challenging. Some things just don’t carry well over a computer screen.
Make sure all your workers understand that they can and should be a bit more open and clear in their interoffice communication to avoid any miscommunication. Promote thoughtful and respectful dialogue and build upon the foundation of trust that should already exist in your workforce.
Lastly, touch base privately with each team member occasionally to see how he or she is adjusting. By listening and trying to address any problems he or she brings up, you will go a long way towards building that trust and seeing to it that each one of your workers adapts successfully.
Creating a Business infrastructure for Remote Work
Managing a remote workforce might at first seem like a daunting task for someone more used to traditional management techniques in an onsite office space. While you may no longer be able to simply poke your head into a cubicle to check up on the progress of a task, if you leverage project management software like Asana, Trello, or Zoho, you may find you can monitor the progress of tasks and projects more efficiently than you ever thought possible.
Project management software is key to managing a remote team because it not only gives you the ability to follow the progress of individual tasks, but all communication regarding that task can be put where it belongs, with the actual task. Critical information like files, contact info, and related subtasks can all be attached to a task as well. This means no more digging through emails or searching through files on your computer. Everyone who needs access to the various components and assets of a task or project will have it.
Why this works so well for remote work is that communication and management can be more asynchronous offering workers and managers more efficiency and flexibility in their schedules. Workers can tackle critical tasks any time day or night when they feel most inspired or motivated, and you can review and comment on that work when it best suits you. When things go awry, a meeting can be scheduled right there in the task.
Security Concerns with a Remote Workforce
Another challenge of a remote workforce is making sure each team member is following best practices for web security and keeping their computers, phones, and other devices used for work safe and secure. With much more of your critical business information being moved to and accessed on the web, making sure your workers all understand their role in protecting that data is crucial.
Up-to-date antivirus and malware programs are just the start. Everyone on your remote team should know how to create strong passwords and change them often. If you work with an IT professional, let them know of your intention to go remote with your team and have them review and make any changes necessary to make sure your data is safe.
Remote Work may be the New Normal for Many Companies
None of us know where we are headed in the midst of the current pandemic or when and how we are going to get back to a more normal existence. Remote work, however, is playing a key role to getting many businesses moving again – and getting their employees back to productive work. In the end, the benefits of remote work will shine through for many managers and workers, and possibly harken in a new age where many more people are working from home in the future.
At Blink;Tech we pride ourselves in being a tech partner to our clients, not only helping them build meaningful web spaces and successful web marketing strategies, but also advising them on meeting the many technical challenges businesses like yours face every day. If your company needs help adjusting to a more web-centric business model, give us a call!