With all the news and information surrounding “social distancing” to slow the spread of COVID-19, we are receiving lots of questions about how to prepare businesses for embracing the remote workforce. Before the actual deployment of remote services, it is a good idea to review your work processes to make sure that they can be remotely performed.
Don't get stuck on the “how” for remote access
There are many ways to enable remote work capability. If you are working with a knowledgeable IT service provider, the “how” is determined after the what needs to be remotely accessed. Being able to describe the work process simply, will allow your service provider to determine the best course of action. Which leads us right into…
Identify your most critical processes and break them down into the simplest actions, starting with daily activities
Work processes that need to happen daily will pile up faster if a staff member is unable to work, so focusing on streamlining those items is best. Work needs that occur weekly or monthly won't necessarily be as extreme, if they can't be done.
If a daily task can be broken down into “Read data for approval, enter into system, communicate to person X” – it is much more simply defined and can be likely digitized. Instead of needing “this form” to approve, create a digital process or backup will make data entry faster, and be less likely to require on-site manipulation. And if communication needs to occur, using Instant Messaging or Email may be sufficient over using a phone, which a remote worker may not necessarily have access to.
Consider the Remote Environment (i.e. Employee Home)
The individual of each remote worker's environment is going to be different. This does create a challenge for technical support. This means that support issues will likely take longer due to support restrictions, limited internet connection bandwidth for video meetings, etcetera. A printer may not be available, or practical for someone at home, so printing may be an issue as well. This can be minimized by issuing company owned devices but may not be financially practical.
Schedule Regular Communication
One of the largest issues with remote workforces is getting everyone together to communicate. Scheduling regular meetings using a communications tool such as Microsoft Teams, allows for collaboration and video (if desired). By maintaining a regular meeting time, you'll prevent unnecessary meetings and stress around gathering your remote staff and establish autonomy within your team.