5 Tips on Transitioning Smoothly from Office to Remote Work
Considering that remote workers are more productive than their office-based counterparts, it is no surprise that an increasing number of organizations are turning their attention to this way of working.
Embracing remote work isn’t as easy as it seems for companies. Its successful transition requires that all the necessary support systems be in place. Further, most professionals grow accustomed to the daily hustle and bustle that comes with working from office. These elements can be hard to replace and their sudden absence can bring about feelings of isolation.
However, business leaders can take certain steps to make it easier for employees to adjust to remote work. If you’re planning to go remote with your business, here’s what you can do to ensure a smooth transition.
1. Be Slow Yet Steady
It makes sense to ease into the change gradually. As your employees begin working from home, allow them to come into the office a couple of days in the week initially. This will help them adjust to the challenges of working remotely.
You can also start by asking employees to work remotely one day per week, and gradually increase the number of days. The in-office days should allow time not just for meetings, but also for interacting with co-workers and working on their own tasks.
Remember, not all departments work in the same way. Some departments may take longer than others to transition. Be patient and give them the time they need.
2. Lay Down the Policies
Depending on the industry you operate in, you will have to formulate new policies and establish certain guidelines to enable flawless work from home or even your remote office in Orlando, Florida, for instance.
The policy should clearly outline each remote employee’s availability, accountabilities, and the parameters for measuring productivity.
It is a good idea to include employees’ suggestions when creating guidelines for remote work. Once they are put in place, do a trial run to identify the issues that come up. You can then work on a plan to mitigate these issues before they crop up when actual remote work begins.
Keep in touch with your remote employees from the start and periodically review their performance. Provide them with the tools or resources that may help boost their output.
Do bear in mind that remote work can make your systems vulnerable to cyber threats and online security might be compromised if proper and timely measures aren’t taken. Make sure to arrange for security devices and software, and put certain preventative practices in place to prevent data loss and breaches. If you don’t have an in-house IT department to take care of this, work with an experienced managed IT services provider to promptly address security issues.
Depending on the size of your team and their needs, your remote work policy should shed light on:
- Productivity: How will the daily work be monitored and progress measured?
- Resources and tools: Which tools and resources will be needed for unhindered communication and collaboration?
- Data management: Which measures should be taken to organize and share work-related data securely?
- Availability: Do employees need to be available during the normal work hours or can they have flexibility in this aspect?
- Accountability: Which employee is responsible for what task, and answerable to whom?
3. Ensure Managers Are Prepared
Departmental heads or managers or team leaders need to be adequately prepared for the transition to enable a flawless move for their teams. Managers who aren’t used to guiding their team through remote work may feel overwhelmed by their new role, so it is important to train and arm them with the resources they need to help their team beforehand.
Ensure all your managers are well-equipped with the right technological tools (more in this later) so they can be there for their teams, answer their queries, and keep work on-track.
4. Redefine Expectations and Standards
Working from office gives rise to certain workplace routines that employees may get habituated to. To enable a smooth transition to remote work, you will need to freshly define what your expectations from your employees are and how you want them to deliver on those. The redefined expectations should address concerns such as the limitations and implications of working from home.
For instance, your employees may be working remotely currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. All your employees will need to be told that rather than handing over the completed task to their manager as usual, they will now have to submit it through a specified app or software. Factors such as the frequency of deliveries and communication, time spent on doing so, prioritizing one task over the other, shuffling deadlines, reviewing tasks, and so on will also need to be worked through.
5. Make the Most of Technology
Whether you have just a handful of employees working from home or an entire team, you need to ensure every worker is on the same page and no one feels isolated. You will need technological aids to ensure that communication is fluid and unhindered irrespective of whether your employee is performing remote work in Orlando, Florida or in Tokyo, Japan. Fortunately, modern technology can easily facilitate this. In fact, technology has been a major enabler during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, making it easy for business all over the world to embrace remote work.
Consider using technology such as online video-conferencing programs, group chats, and virtual training modules to unify your teams and keep the communication flowing non-stop.
Identify a specific suite of software for your tasks and stick to it so you don’t have to log in to multiple platforms to keep up with the goings-on and messages. You don’t want to end up missing important updates or leave client calls unanswered or deal with cybersecurity issues later on.
Tools such as Skype, Slack, Zoom, UberConference, Loom, and similar ones can be used to keep the communication going and help employees stay connected to their superiors and colleagues.
Productivity tools such as G Suite, Hubstaff, RemoteOne, and so on will enable you to track the progress of each project while also measuring the results as and when needed.
For simplified project management, harness tools such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Teamwork, among others.
Further, use programs such as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, LastPass, and 1Password to ensure optimal cybersecurity.
When making the transition from office-based work to remote work, it is crucial to bear in mind the reasons behind this move and whether or not it will be beneficial for your organization. Any plan you make will have to center around your goals. Continuous and clear communication is vital to the success of the transition. Without proper technological tools and support software, remote work may not be fruitful. Apart from this, pay attention to the major hindrances to remote work, such as breakdown of communication and feelings of isolation. For remote work culture to be a success, do take all these considerations into account when formulating policies and facilitating support technology.
Mike Della Pia is the President of LAN Masters, Inc., an Orlando IT support company that has been helping small businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business the past 15 years. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.