5 Musts to Maximize Remote Working
Working remotely is nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition. Some have made the shift better than others. Let me offer five things leaders should consider if they want to set up employees for success working remotely:
1. Good technology is at the heart of working from home: To be effective, it’s important for employees to have access to good technology. Key elements: 1) Using a tool that enables continuous communication, such as Slack or Teams, and 2) Setting expectations around how best to communicate, especially with email. Online meeting software is another technology consideration. Whether you choose Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or another platform, this technology is important to maintaining that connection. Again, set expectations around how they are used.
2. A home environment with minimal disruptions is best: Setting up a productive working environment at home is critical – and it’s going to be different for every employee. From loft apartments to dedicated home offices, encourage employees to set up a business-focused area with minimal disruptions.
3. Online meetings when everyone is remote: Remote meetings really aren’t a new thing. But in the past, it was the in-person, on-site group that dominated the conversation. And traditionally, it was challenging to contribute as a remote participant. Core elements of online meeting etiquette make a big difference in terms of that human connection. Enable video. And be courteous. Show up on time, be present, and pay attention to the meeting.
4. An increased need for responsiveness: This becomes more important in a virtual setup because you can’t see fellow employees. The ability to walk over for an impromptu discussion or to ask a question no longer exists. Encourage employees to be mindful of their availability. And remind everyone to keep their status up to date.
5. Striking a new balance for caregivers: This issue is really specific to the response to the coronavirus crisis. Schools and daycare facilities have closed, and kids are at home. Parents are suddenly faced with additional responsibilities. And in addition, many employees have suddenly become caregivers for elderly or vulnerable family members. This likely means an employee’s availability to work at certain hours requires flexibility. Acknowledge this up front. Demonstrate understanding to ensure that they can honor their obligations to the company as well as their responsibilities at home. This is an enormous shift, and it’s a cause for a lot of stress.
Encourage managers to have one‑to‑ones with employees, and make sure they check in regularly. Also, a pulse survey is an efficient way to get important feedback. Find where you have hot spots in your organization and then focus on addressing them.
Doug Claffey is founder of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.