After getting a few calls from different companies around enabling work from home scenarios, I sat in my daughter’s room and started to think about the impact the Corona Virus is having on the average small business that does not have a work from home policy, and how they can get up and running quickly. Below are some of the tools we use in our business to enable working remotely, these may be useful to you as well.
Dedicated work email
Having a dedicated work email is the start of enabling registration for any other platform. It also ensures that your companies data is safe, secure and manageable from a single data center. Why is this important? let’s say your employee created an outlook email account and they are using this account to communicate with your clients, as a business you will have no way of preventing them from continuing using the same email should they be fired. For email accounts, I recommend using Gmail for business as you get the entire suite plus access to other plugins with every account.
Dedicated shared workspace
A dedicated place where you can share and manage files and conversations is very important to ensure working remotely is seamless. You will realize how important this is when you start to have tons of email trails with multiple version of different documents to manage; things start to get hectic, you lose precious time as you find it hard to keep up with historical references. We use Basecamp to manage our projects, this helps us to keep projects and tasks separated and you can even link treads to your email.
Tasks assignments and time management
Studies have shown that working from home can improve the output as people are more likely to do well when they are comfortable in their environment, however, let’s not kid our selves here, we are talking about people and on less you put systems in place the flip side will also be true. We use Trello for tasks assignment and the management of release. This helps in ensuring that a lid is kept on what needs to be done and everyone is aware of the tasks assigned to them.
Virtual huddles – stand up meetings
One of the main drawbacks of working remotely is that there may be less collaboration. We keep it very simple in our company when working remotely, for starters we use google hangouts as it easy to just click on the calendar and go to a meeting. Secondly, we have what’s called “morning huddles” which is a short meeting that is focused on what went well, what went wrong, what challenges we faced and what is our plan for today. Next, we keep a meeting link open for the entire day where anyone can request an impromptu meeting. Other breakout sessions can be added throughout the day as the need arises.
Ensure that the working hours are still enabled
One of the misconceptions is that when working remotely you can be on the beach in the day then do your work at night. This is not true for one main reason, most of your clients are not at the beach in the day therefore if you need to reach your employees they must be reachable. I would suggest that the work hours are still clearly defined and measures are put in placed to facilitate any break or time away from their station.
you need to establish a baseline that dictates the output expected and have clear reporting structures in place that will give you the tools needed to objectively evaluate your staff’s performance. This is probably the most important step as from a psychological perspective, being the boss you will believe that your employees are at home watching power, eating popcorn and sipping red wine.