The COVID-19 outbreak has proven to be highly disruptive throughout the globe. Employers are forced to undertake extra measures to keep their employees safe while maintaining organizational productivity. Remote work is one of the biggest changes in the daily routine, which brings about its own set of challenges.
Employers are no longer able to rely upon workplace attendance as an indicator of contribution, while workers may face distractions from the comforts of home. It is also essential to choose digital communication platforms that function smoothly with mimimum or zero downtime.
As such, it is necessary for managers to come up with a clear remote work policy that enables them to maximize staff performance and keep them safe, while they’re given newfound freedom amidst the crisis.
Establishing a Clear Remote Work Policy
A clearly outlined remote work policy will keep your staff engaged and motivated through the crisis. Remote work creates a barrier between co-workers and their managers. This may result in disruption at the workplace if poorly managed. Thus, it is important to share the points of engagement during the first conference call.
Regular and Authentic Communication
Regular communication is key. As such, managers should provide daily check-ins with their employees.
The choice of communication medium matters.
Texts and emails might be inadequate at conveying a particular tone or sentiment, which might lead to misunderstandings among co-workers. Contact is best conducted via a call or video conference set at a predictable time of the workday. The routine helps to recreate audio and visual workplace cues that workers are accustomed to. Calls should be divided into individual or group sessions, depending on the nature of workflow.
Additionally, managers should inform staff about the best time and method to contact them during an emergency. Also, it is important to provide employees with multiple communication channels according to specific tasks. For example, regular calls may be used for daily check-ins while emergency updates are carried out via instant messaging platforms like Slack.
Employees tend to seek direction and support from their managers during times of disruption or crisis. Regular check-ins provide employees with a forum to consult managers and to openly voice their thoughts and ideas.
An established communication routine will reduce isolation among staff and retain a sense of belonging to the company. Managers can also maintain interpersonal relations among staff by encouraging remote conversations regarding non-work topics. This can be done by allocating a couple of minutes to “catching up” during daily check-ins. The underlying idea is that managers should prioritize the opinions and stress of employees, and to offer emotional support during challenging times.
It is important for managers to monitor communications among teams to gauge their effectiveness and rethink remote strategies if necessary.
Managers are like the pillars of an organization. It is important for them to acknowledge the feelings and stress faced by employees while affirming that the organization will tide through the challenges. As such, employees should be provided with accurate updates on the crisis’ impact on the business, or they might turn to inaccurate distributed sources from mainstream media. Language plays a crucial role during troubling times, where positive statements like “we’ll get through this”. or “let’s unite our strengths against the crisis”, can help motivate a remote workforce.
Integrated and Secure Technology
Managers should consult their IT department on data security matters before deciding on a program for remote work. Additionally, chosen platforms should feature reliable technical support and a back-up function to minimize downtime. Many businesses have transitioned their data storage to cloud-based systems. This is an effective method to keep your systems operational and highly scalable during remote arrangements.
Digital platforms may also offer the convenience of documentation, such as automated transcription, enabling easy reference. The goal is to ensure that employees are provided with the best tools for specific tasks during their time away from the workplace.
Due to the sudden transition to a remote work environment, employees may find themselves ill-equipped for home-based operations. Managers can help improve work conditions by offering tech incentives that subsidize the cost of wireless accessories, and phone or internet fees.
COVID-19’s Impact on Remote Workers
The CDC has recommended social distancing as a means of reducing the spread of infection. In many cases, remote work has become a need rather than a privilege.The sudden transition to remote work arrangements might convince employers to consider fostering strengths-based environments.
Strength-based cultures focus on grouping workers according to individual talents that determine how they act, think, and feel. This makes it easier for managers to anticipate staff reaction for effective response during a crisis.
The Benefits of an SMB during Crisis
A server message block (SMB) is a network protocol that enables users within the same network to share files. It varies from local area network systems commonly installed in workplace settings, where access is restricted to users physically present within the area.
On the other hand, SMBs provide workers with access to workplace-situated databases and devices (such as printers and scanners) as long as they are registered to its dedicated network. As such, SMB provides seamless communication in organizations that practice a rotatory work system (workers alternate between on-site and remote work shifts in groups).
SMB enables workers (clients) to access any server program that is set up to receive an SMB client request. This enables unrestricted collaboration between staff at the workplace and those working from a remote position.
As with any remote channel, SMB is vulnerable to malicious activity from third-party sources. Therefore, it is important that managers work closely with their IT department to ensure that their SMB is kept secure with the latest updates and patches. For instance, Microsoft recently released a security advisory on the potential threat of a remote code execution vulnerability, where attackers may hijack an affected SMB system.
With proper monitoring practices, an SMB can help bridge the gap between remote and on-site deployments. While organizations face the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, the importance of remote work seems all the more certain. Through taking proactive measures, managers can become the instrument of change that will guide employees into the workforce of tomorrow.
America’s Back Office is a registered professional employment organization. We are dedicated to helping business owners and managers become experts in their field.