The COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled everything we know about daily life. From wearing masks in public to the cancelation of sporting events, the virus has affected the way everyone does business.
For businesses now forced to operate remotely due to shelter-in-place orders, maintaining a sustainable level of output to make it through the health crisis is the top priority. However, it appears increasingly likely the virus will still be a factor in 2021, which makes long-term planning a must.
Be Flexible with Remote Work
During the pandemic, employees are dealing with many different issues. Whether these are increased childcare responsibilities or internal communication breakdowns, these issues will arise.
A Clutch study found that 66% of employees are required to work from home. The quickest way to ensure disengagement while employees work from home is to act like everything is exactly the same. Fundamentals like work hours, messaging channels, and daily commitments are important to maintain.
Be sure to start building more efficient processes and implementing effective scheduling —having meetings that drag for hours over video chat are even more damaging now. Fostering more communication, implementing new remote work tools like Asana, Trello, and Figma, and constantly keeping employees in the loop are equally important. As the prospects of remote work and reduced office hours continue, more problems are bound to come up.
Some of your staff may be able to come to the office when governments allow, but others that are immunocompromised may not. Make sure to stay flexible on long-term plans in order to improve public health and increase productivity.
Prepare Your Staff
For employees that aren’t accustomed to remote work, this has been a difficult transition. While some businesses had been moving to remote work before the pandemic, others were caught flat-footed.
By now, you should ensure that all of your employees have a reliable home office setup with a desk, a working internet connection and minimal distractions. However, as the quarantine phase continues, make sure your employees are prepared for drastic, long-term changes. Many employees left for remote work thinking it would only be a few weeks. They could even be scattered across the country and staying with significant others or family.
Implementing technologies to start systemizing and organizing your remote staff is a must. If you haven’t started looking at corporate messaging services or set up a regular phone directory, it would behoove you to do so in short order. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to coordinate.
Be sure to keep up with your employees’ overall well-being as the situation persists. Having remote bonding experiences such as fitness classes or cooking demonstrations can be a great way to release stress and anxiety.
Consider Hiring Remotely
With no set timeline for when normality will resume, the onboarding process has become a mess. Hiring a virtual assistant service outsourced company can be a low-cost way to help bridge the gap between now and the release of a vaccine.
Since virtual assistants and remote back-office staff don’t need to be in physical contact, now would be a good time to start exploring those options to support your team. Finding online freelancers is also a good way to divide labor and keep expenses down. Make sure to notify your current staff of your hiring plans so that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Modify Your Office Space
When the world starts to reopen, it will not be the same. Having hundreds of people in office buildings is a public safety hazard. As the situation develops, make sure to ensure safety and security for office buildings. While the physical challenge of moving desks and ordering sanitary equipment is one thing, make sure to consider which teams need to be in the office and which do not.
Also, take into account your employees’ commutes and whether that will be affected. If some teams need to stay remote for the foreseeable future, those expectations should be clear.
A Long Road Ahead
In the wake of the pandemic, remote work will become the norm for an indefinite period of time. We don’t know how long this will last, but it’s always better to over-plan than be underprepared.
For businesses to stay afloat during these times, employees need to buy into the new normal while also receiving the support they need to stay productive and healthy.
By following these strategies and coming up with new ones for your specific situation, you can make the best of the situation.