As the coronavirus spreads, responsible organisations recognise that their employees need to work remotely instead of going into communal spaces and offices. Working from home is being strongly encouraged, and even mandated in some cases. Often, however, these measures are rushed, creating additional stress and disruption.
We are being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, thus far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organisations to implement. Working remotely, we can expect disruption in normal work patterns, modes of communication and team dynamics.
The test of a company’s ability to allow its employees to work remotely always comes down to strong leadership, excellent communication and solid IT organisation and systems. Thanks to digital transformation and cloud computing, many businesses have already migrated to the cloud, and have various collaboration tools in place.
Strategies to be considered when working remotely, to ensure effective collaboration and the ability to meet deadlines, include:
- Goals and roles need to be clear – It’s important to clarify and re-clarify goals and roles, including team objectives as well as individual roles.
- Flexible HR support to match new work realities – Implementing flexible working arrangements using technology.
- Communicate openly and often – How and what you communicate are critically important. We need to ensure we are making an extra effort to stay personally connected, so people don’t feel disconnected and lonely.
- Emphasise personal interactions – Prevent people from feeling lonely or disconnected, as this lowers productivity and engagement.
- Ensure virtual meetings happen and use video options wherever possible.
- Remote work success depends heavily on whether you trust employees to do their work even if you can’t see them.
The vast remote work experiment is also a great opportunity to prepare for a future of younger generations who will demand that organisations provide remote-work options
Ask the right questions
Poor technology and/or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to effective remote working. Here are some typical questions to ask to ensure people are able to work remotely:
- Do you have a laptop suitable to perform your duties?
- Do you have redundant power in case of load shedding (UPS/generator) which can last for a minimum of 4 hours?
- Do you have a headset/microphone that you can use on a laptop?
- Do you have internet access at home with enough data allocation to perform your duties for a month?
- Do you have internet access at home with at least 4Mbps to perform your duties?
- Do you have a secondary means of internet access in case your main connection is affected?
- Do you have reliable 3G/4G signal at home?
- Does your client’s environment support remote connectivity (for employees based at customers)?
- Do you have a space to work from where you feel secure?
- Do you have a place to work from that is relatively noise free (in the case that your role requires you to use the telephone or attend meetings remotely)?
A time for healing
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Author – Barbi Goldblatt – Regional Executive