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How Organizations Can Adjust To Remote Work During Covid19

Operations & Management

Isadora Teich wrote this article


The Covid19 pandemic has paved the road ahead with numerous tough challenges for businesses and nations alike to navigate.

On a large and very personal scale, we are all suddenly experiencing fundamental changes to how we live, work, and socialize.

Many countries around the world right now are employing social-distancing measures. For many, like the US, intense social distancing and lockdowns will be employed for over a month.

Uncertainty abounds, making this is a difficult time for employees and their leaders alike.

Even if you are at low-risk, your life has likely been disrupted by the pandemic.

And yet, making fast changes has traditionally been a struggle for people and organizations, but with the stakes this high, it can feel especially daunting.

Here are some key ways organizations can make the transition to remote work painless and productive for everyone on the team.

Provide the Right Resources

Fortunately, we live during a time where there are numerous tools that organizations can use to facilitate remote work.

For example, many organizations and freelancers use the platform UpWork to connect, track work, even exchange payments.

If you want to video conference, you have many options ranging from Skype to Zoom to Join.Me. Project management tools like Basecamp, Trello, and Asana can make virtual project management easy. Of course, there are far more than I could begin to list in all of these categories.

However, in the age of apps and countless platforms, there is a common trap.

Some organizations will download every tool and app they can find in the name of productivity, without deploying the necessary infrastructure behind them first.

Depending on the structure of your organization, switching to remote work may be simple.

However, if almost no one in your office has ever used Asana or Zoom before, it is only practical to take stock of the learning curve.

It is likely in your best interest to create mandatory training for those in your organization, or at least provide them with easy access to resources that can help them navigate this new way of work.

Put Firm Policies In Place

While some hiccups are inevitable during this transition, you want to avoid repeated issues that may hinder your team’s workflow.

For example, you don’t want employees to repeatedly be days behind because they can’t access documents, platforms, tools, or relevant resources. Make sure everyone always has what they need.

If you have no work from home policies, the time to put them in place is now.

The best part is, you will now have them moving forward as well.

Sudden changes can be difficult for everyone to navigate.

It can lead to a certain level of chaos if your team suddenly finds themselves without any structure or answers. When so much else is uncertain out there, be sure your team has firm procedures to fall back on.

Less Panic, More Communication

This can be a difficult one. We are living through a highly stressful and tumultuous time.

Most of us, at some point, have definitely felt the urge to panic.

However, from an organizational standpoint, this is a big problem. Rather than falling into negativity, focus on what matters to your organization and work to protect and enhance it.

The good news is, remote work will not change what is integral to your organization.

It still needs to perform the same functions by supporting the same key people.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You already know the people, data, critical operations, structures, and audiences that matter most for your business. You still need to support and reach them.

You already know what each of your employees needs while under your roof to perform their daily tasks.

Think about what they need at home to do the same things. Also, make sure they not only have access to those tools, but know how to use them.

Communication is always key, but in times of crisis, it becomes even more important.

Focus on clear internal and external communication.

If your consumers cannot reach you, they will always assume the worst. However, if your own employees feel like they cannot communicate with each other, you are in for a complex host of problems.

More Than Just Work

In office spaces, we often take communication and socializing for granted.

If you have a question about a project, you can walk right over to your collaborator’s desk.

If a team member wants to speak with a manager, they always know exactly where to find them in person. The casual and natural conversations that occur when employees bump into each other in the hallway or wait for meetings to start can lead to inspiration and problem-solving.

It is also important to note that many of us depend on work for regular socializing.

Many of us make not only important professional connections, but great lifelong friends at work.

Humans need regular socializing and relationships to feel secure, happy, and healthy. Remote work can make this critical communication more complex to navigate.

How To Take Control of Internal Communication

From the start, decide how your organization will communicate.

Depending on its size, Google Hangouts may be enough. You may want to opt for a company Slack or use a tool like Fuze. Decide early on how your company will communicate, and make sure everyone on your team knows how, where, and when to communicate.

Especially for larger organizations, failing to do this early on can be a nightmare.

You don’t want to end up with projects and conversations getting lost. This is likely if all of your employees are using different platforms and no one knows how to reach anyone.

Also, if employees end up having to check 5+ communication channels just to find out what they are supposed to do, that is inefficient and confusing. The last thing you want to do is pile on more stress in an already difficult time.

Remember, it is not about using every tool.

It is about using a few tools well. If you have a small team, and everyone on it already has Skype and knows how to use it, you may want to simply opt for that. Every organization is different and has different needs.

Check-In On Your Team

In this difficult time, we need to support each other now more than ever.

Social distancing measures can hit those of us who live alone particularly hard.

Many people who live alone depend on physically going to work for their socialization to some extent. On top of all of the other big changes, solo-dwellers may now find themselves physically alone for weeks or months on end.

While this is a very necessary measure, it can be understandably hard on those who have to go through it completely alone.

You may want to facilitate socialization through virtual work events. Another option is to host weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with your team. Make sure that they know they are supported at this time.

From Buzzword to Reality

This pandemic is already having a large effect on how we work, what we prioritize, on what tools we value. As far as the longterm effects, no one has a crystal ball and can tell you exactly what will happen yet.

However, some things are looking pretty likely based on current trends.

For many years, people have been somewhat skeptical of remote work.

Even as its popularity has grown in the past few years, some misconceptions have remained pretty widespread. Many companies have refused to embrace it altogether, believing that it would be impossible for it to work for them.

The Covid19 pandemic is proving that this is not necessarily true.

Many organizations that believed it would be impossible to conduct their daily business remotely are finding that it is incredibly possible now that they’re being strong armed into it.

While it is unlikely that in the future, all work will be remote, it is likely that covid19 will have a lasting impact on the normalization of remote work.

Studies have shown repeatedly that remote workers are more productive, more engaged, and less expensive for companies overall.

Jobs that offer remote working opportunities are more attractive to talent too. In fact, 54% of employees say that they would switch jobs for one that offered them more of this kind of flexibility.

Now that Covid19 has forced companies’ hands, it is likely many of them will realize the benefits of remote work and look to embrace it in new ways after the crisis has ended. At the same time, workers may be loathe to head back into the office, seeking instead a remote opportunity.

Final Thoughts

While it is easy to become scrambled in the midst of such a novel and intense situation, you can handle anything if you have a plan.

At the moment, the whole world is grieving together.

This is why maintaining a sense of normalcy and support within your organization is so important. In tough times, things that make us feel human, productive, connected, and supported are vitally important.

Stay organized, stay practical, stay focused, and enable your team to do what they do best, even if they are on their couch in their pajamas.

They will thank you.

About Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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