Many businesses have moved to working remotely during the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Not only will working remotely reduce the risk of employees catching the coronavirus, social distancing can help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
But building a virtual workplace this quickly from scratch can be challenging and stress inducing in and of itself. Some employees will adapt well; others will struggle with the transition. Here are 4 tips for working remotely during the coronavirus:
- Rally the Team Together
- Talk to Each Other Regularly
- Personally Connect One on One with Each Team Member
- Be Available and Responsive to Your Team Members
1. Rally the Team Together
As mentioned above, not everyone will like the idea of working remotely, coronavirus or not. What can help ease the situation is to be very clear on why you are doing this. Write a memo that states the possible dangers of working together, and how working remotely will reduce those risks. It may help to refer to your business’s mission statement or similar document. Chances are, you can connect the dots for people to help them understand that working remotely will help your company reach its goals while keeping them safe. This sense of purpose and clear direction will help ground employees and make the transition easier.
It also helps to let everyone know that working remotely is new territory – and there will be hiccups. Knowing and recognizing that ahead of time will encourage team members to speak up if they are having an issue or if they find a better way of doing things.
Lastly, it’s especially important that you remain upbeat yourself. If you come into it with a great attitude, your team is more likely to remain positive as well.
2. Talk to Each Other Regularly
If you already have communication protocols in place for when people are away on business or in similar situations, great – you’re already ahead of the game! But if you do not, create clear methods of communication for everyone to follow as you are working remotely. Choose a preferred method and one or two secondary methods. Will you email everyone? Text? Phone? Skype? FaceTime? Make sure they are methods that all can do. If there are people who do not have Apple products, for example, FaceTime won’t be an effective method.
Phone should always be involved in the mix somehow. It is the next best way to communicate when you can’t meet face to face.
There are also online tools that can help. Basecamp, for example, is a virtual project management system that allows teams to communicate and work remotely more easily. Zoom and GotoMeeting are other online communication services that can help everyone “meet” together virtually.
3. Personally Connect One on One with Each Team Member
You (or someone from the management team) should check in regularly with the team, one on one. This is especially important in the beginning. Ensure everyone is comfortable with the situation. If they are having problems adjusting, you can help them work through those issues faster.
Working remotely loses the key element of face-to-face conversation – and much of what we say is non-verbal. You can compensate for that loss by sending off regular texts or emails to see how their day is going. The term “regular” is relative – some people might like to hear from you several times per day, while others may only need one every day or two. Err on the side of more, especially in the beginning.
4. Be Available and Responsive to Your Team Members
Make sure everyone can reach you when they need you, and be responsive. Respond immediately, whenever possible, even if it’s just to say “busy at the moment – I’ll get back to you.” Your employees should be your top priority at this time to help ensure everyone can work from home effectively. In other words, there may be more hand holding than in a normal office situation. People can feel disconnected working from home. If they know they can get a hold of you anytime, it will reduce any feelings of anxiety and isolation they may have.
Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Outbreak Requires Communication Above All Else
You’ll note that every one of these 4 tips for working remotely during the coronavirus outbreak has something to do with communication. That’s not a coincidence. Communication is the most difficult part of working remotely. In general, you need more and clearer communication to ensure everyone stays on the same page.
Remember that the phone is the best form of communication after face-to-face communication. You may not need it for all things, but telephones (or, if possible, videoconferencing) should be part of your communication plan. Talking to people:
- Reduces the risk of misunderstandings
- Creates stronger bonds between team members compared to email and text
- Makes team members feel more connected – especially important for those who need more social contact
Leadership is crucial anytime your business creates a new way to do things. With such a sudden and drastic change, leadership counts for even more. You can work well remotely during the coronavirus outbreak if you focus on making sure your employees are communicating and adjusting well to the changes.
Elite Can Help You Work Remotely
Elite Office Solutions can provide assistance to help you and your team work remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. We have decades of experience working remotely ourselves. Elite can provide:
- Consultation about setting up a remote environment
- Strategizing sessions to create a customized plan for your business
- Virtual assistant services to help during the transition
- Virtual assistants to sub in should an employee be sick or need to care for a loved one
Our Elite team is available to help you set up a telecommuting system that will help your team work more effectively during this trying time. Keep safe AND productive!