How To Smoothly Transition To Remote Work During The COVID-19 Crisis
We can all say it: It’s a little weird out there right now.
It’s hard not to feel a sense of whiplash as the country—and world—has changed so rapidly in the course of just a few weeks.
But beyond social distancing, Axios’ Erica Pandey presents the reality for companies everywhere: “Remote work and remote learning have long been buzzwords, but the sudden switch to telecommuting en masse has the potential to accelerate shifts in how work is conducted and the way we think about it.”
In other words, when we look back on this time, it may be one of the hallmarks of the work-from-home revolution.
But as Pandey also points out, only about 4% of Americans worked from home full-time before this. So it’s going to be a major change for almost all of us.
And we’re here to help.
Whether remote work was something you and your employees already had some experience with before, it’s certainly something you’re adjusting to now. And whether you’re a remote work veteran, or you’re feeling totally out of your element, we want you to know that we’re here to support you in any way we can.
With that in mind, we want to speak to some of our greener work-from-homers. So regardless of if you’re a manager who’s feels like remote work isn’t feasible for your business, or an employee who’s worried about staying connected to your job and your team, we want to give you the tools you need to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Here are our best tips for transitioning yourself and your employees into remote work as smoothly as possible.
Communicate as Openly and as Often as Possible
Times like this often open themselves up to a lot of misinformation. Whether it’s a text from your friend who somehow has “high-level” insider information about what the government is up to, or your many careless Facebook friends sharing whatever anxiety-inducing thoughts come to mind, people are looking for and consuming whatever information they can get their hands on.
So now is the time for you, the employer, to step up your communication effort.
Sara Fischer, reporting on a survey by Edelmen, explains that “people are more likely to believe that their employers are seen as better prepared than their countries to handle the outbreak, per the survey.”
And with that in mind, she goes on to say, 63% of employees want daily updates from their companies.
What this tells us is that your employees need to hear from you. They don’t need to know all the answers, but they are certainly looking for guidance. So whether you do it through group video calls, daily one-on-one check ins, or broadcasting messages through a dedicated channel, the time and effort that you spend to make sure your employees can reach you in absolutely invaluable.
Set Goals, Big and Small
When employees have to quickly go from the structure of an office and group-work to the freedom and lack-of-accountability that can come from working out of the house, it can be hard to stay motivated.
Something that we constantly come back to here at Hoopla is the importance of setting goals: big and small, work and personal.
Encourage your employees to start every day with a to-do list of sorts. Tasks that they can accomplish before they punch out, or things that they know they need to do before the end of the week. That helps them to create structure around which they can build their days.
And it also brings some grounding to a time where a lot of daily life feels unsure. Do they want to keep working out? Maybe the can make a goal of hitting three online yoga classes. Do they want to learn a few new recipes to cook at home? We could probably all use a shakeup in our mealtimes.
Stick To Metrics, Not Timecards
Part of the beauty of the remote work setup is that, traditionally, folks to can work remotely don’t necessarily need to work on the same schedule as their coworkers. It presents flexibility for parents who may now be homeschooling their kids, or students who are trying to juggle a job on top of classes.
With that in mind, it’s not always the most useful thing in the world to try and track the hours that your remote employees are working. Instead, make sure that their role has a certain set of metrics or KPIs that define success.
By holding workers to those metrics, you’re actually empowering them to do work on their time, and helping them to be their most efficient.
Remember: We’re All In This Together
Remote work can often be an extremely isolating experience if not handled correctly. Especially in these trying times, we can get so consumed with taking care of ourselves—we may end up forgetting that our coworkers and friends are experiencing much of the same problems that we are.
Make sure that you’re making space for your employees to be non-employees, too. Start a slack channel that’s just dedicated to everyone’s movie recommendations—or hop on Netflix’s new Party feature and watch a movie “together.”
You might find that blowing off the occasional Friday afternoon for some quality team social-distancing might be worth more in the long run than allowing your employees to become isolated and disengaged from your organization.
In the end, a lot of this is going to feel improv-ed. Don’t worry, that’s normal.
As long as you continue to try to do right by your employees, develop concrete plans for the best way to move forward, and communicate your vision, you’re going to find a team that’s ready to rally behind you.
And in the end, you may find that the option to work from home was the best choice all along.