Transitioning To Remote Work: Q&A from A Houston Managed IT Services Provider (MSP)
Advice For Companies Looking to Transition During the Coronavirus Crisis
Just like you, Wright Business Technologies is also concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are here to support you in any way we can. As you know, many businesses are or have already transitioned their team members to a remote working paradigm. Teleworking has become the new normal during this crisis. As a result, many of our valued customers have been asking us about how to transition their workforce to work-from-home while maintaining productivity, connectivity, and efficiency.
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In response, we have put together this Q&A of common questions and answers on strategies, tips, and tools for transitioning to remote working environments.
5 Q&A Strategies for Transitioning to Remote Work
1. What are the benefits of remote working?
The move to remote working has been a trend for a while now. Year over year, many companies have shifted part or all of their workforce to a teleworking paradigm and have realized enormous benefits. The recent COVID-19 crisis will only accelerate this trend.
Benefits of transitioning to remote working include:
Lower capital expenditure costs.Operating an office full of people is expensive. When you cut out the costs for rent, furniture, and office equipment, your overhead will inevitably drop.
Lower physical IT infrastructure costs.In most cases, remote workers typically pay for their own equipment.
Greater efficiency and productivityWith none of the distractions from a traditional office setting, remote working drives up efficiency. It allows employees to have more control of their time and adjust their personal and mental needs to optimize productivity.
Increased employee satisfactionRemote working encourages work-life balance, reduces the stress often caused by sitting in traffic jams, and provides employees with a strong sense of empowerment and control over their work. All of these factors lead to happier employees.
Improved employee retention.Working from home decreases the pressures that often cause employees to search for other jobs such as long commutes, physical conditions, or life events. The value becomes apparent when considering the time and costs of replacing the key players on your team.
Stronger competitive edge.The option to telework can play a decisive role in attracting top talent in today’s competitive environment. A company offering flexible working arrangements can make the difference for a candidate who is selecting their next career move.
2. What are some potential issues associated with remote work?
Transitioning to remote working is not without some potential challenges.
However, all of the potential issues below can be easily resolved if you establish a remote working strategy and transition plan beforehand. Due to the unexpected rise of COVID-19, many companies are now scrambling to transition to remote working with little or no plan.
Potential issues (along with simple solutions) that may arise from remote working include:
Maintaining good communicationEffective communication is difficult even in an office setting. It is even more difficult to communicate remotely without tones and body language, which are crucial cues for human understanding. These communication issues not only negatively impact workflow but can also take a toll on employee morale. To account for this potential pitfall, utilize voice and video calls over emails, establish regular meetings and encourage employees to be intentional with keeping up with their teammates as conversations no longer happen as organically.
Maintaining securityA remote workforce increases a company’s potential for leaks, breaches, and hacks. Remote employees can log on anywhere there is an internet connection – home, coffee shops, hotels, etc. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the company’s sensitive and confidential information is secure no matter where they work or what device they use. Education and training are essential when it comes to information security and helping your employees understand the daily risks they may face while working remotely.
Tracking employee performanceIt can be hard to monitor employee performance when your team is not physically in the office. Setting clear expectations becomes crucial. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them at all times and should have set goals established. With this knowledge, employees are happier and better able to live up to the expectations you set. Project management tools, such as Basecamp and Monday can also help to keep your team on track and on target while they work from home.
3. How do I prepare my business for working remotely?
To prepare your business for working remotely, you’ll want to follow these five steps listed below:
Prepare a digital office space.People like having a place to call the “office.” Instead of a physical meeting room, you may want to have a designated team channel for intra-team discussions and collaboration. You will also want to establish a procedure for private, one-on-one video conferences. The goal is to recreate a professional office space within a digital environment.
Prepare your managers.Managing a remote workforce is very different from managing workers in the office. It is essential to train managers in the means and methods for managing teleworkers. Have a meeting with your managers to set remote working expectations for them.
Prepare your employees.Like your managers, employees require training in remote workflows, such as how to access centrally stored files. More importantly, you should set expectations about what remote working will entail. Many employers fear that employees will simply slack off when given the opportunity. However, loss of productivity can be easily avoided if you set expectations for deliverables from the very beginning. Research shows that employees are much more productive working from home when goals and expectations are clearly defined.
Reiterate company culture.Remember, even though your company may not have a physical office, it should still have a material culture. One of the dangers of transitioning to a remote working paradigm is a loss or dilution of company culture. For many businesses, a positive office culture is crucial for employee retention, satisfaction, and, ultimately, productivity. Reiterate company culture with regular “office-wide” meetings, emails, and virtual events.
Learn to trust.Moving to remote work is an exercise in trust and responsibility. You have to trust your employees for the model to work. However, you’ll also want to verify and track your workers’ performance. This can be accomplished with a variety of cloud-based tools.
4. What tools do I need to provide my employees to telework effectively?
Businesses looking to proactively shift some or all of their workers towards a remote working arrangement need to provide their employees with the right tools and the correct remote infrastructure to support their untethered work activities. You can’t just shut the office down and tell people to rough it on their own. In fact, poor organizational planning and a lack of change management strategy and forethought is a sure recipe for disaster.
The following are six tools you’ll need to telework:
- Portable Computing Devices
- Communication Applications
- Secure Internet Connection
- Central server storage or cloud-based storage
- Secure Remote Access Workflow
- Cloud Applications
5. How can my team handle remote work challenges such as client-facing functions — such as customer service?
Building and maintaining relationships is the fundamental key to sales and customer success. While wining and dining a prospect is out of the question during this time of social distancing, you can still maintain your connections and even build new ones during this critical time without a physical office space. In fact, many customer services and client-facing functions can already be accomplished with work-from-home tools, such as a smartphone.
Call your clients yourself.Take advantage of the variety of digital channels available to host client calls and engagements. A simple call just to let your clients know that your business is still working to solve their issues, despite the Coronavirus crisis, will go a long way.
Set-up a chat hotline.The pandemic has accelerated the move to online and web-based commerce. To maintain connectivity with clients and customers, try setting up an AI chatbot or assigning one of your customer representatives to monitor the chat line. Chat windows are an excellent and non-intrusive way to stay highly responsive to customer needs when much of the population is quarantined at home.
Communicate through social media.63 percent of consumers expect companies to offer customer support through social media channels. Over a third of all people actually preferred social media-based support and communications over other communication channels.
Use a consumer feedback aggregator.Modern-day services, such as Podium and Intercom aggregate consumer feedback from multiple channels, such as websites, email, and social media, into a single consolidated dashboard, making it easier for customer representatives to solve customer issues and address customer complaints.
Use Zoom, GoToMeeting, or other video apps.For decades, businesses have relied exclusively on telephone calls to engage clients and customers and address their needs. While effective, an audio-only experience is far from ideal. The fact is, a major component of human communication is conveyed visually through facial expressions and gestures. That’s where real-time live video communications are playing a crucial role in maintaining key client relationships. Have your employees host meetings with key constituents or customers through professional video conferencing applications such as Zoom or GoToMeeting. While we may live in an era of social distancing, technologies such as live video conferencing are bridging the physical gap with virtual means.
The coronavirus disruption has proven that remote work is a valuable tool that makes companies stronger and more resilient during this time of crisis. A remote workforce can be just as effective as a traditional, in-house team. Although it requires preparation and some coordination, the overall benefits to your workers and business are undeniable, and Wright Business Technologies is here to support you during this transition.GET AN IT MANAGED SERVICES ESTIMATE