COVID-19 is already having a major impact on American society and industry. Both the State and Federal government is implementing guidelines for reducing or limiting the transmission of this disease, which has created challenges for how businesses operate. Many companies in the hospitality and travel industries are closing or suspending their operations altogether, other industries are directing employees whenever possible to work remotely for the near term. If your organization had a work from home (WFH) policy in place before, you may just be expanding the number of employees that utilize it and this may be a good time to update your policy. If your company isn’t currently set up to allow employees to work remotely, there are several things to consider and implement in order to create a successful WFH policy.
Focus on Communication
Similar to what we recommend for benefit communications, a rollout strategy is needed for any new initiative such as working from home. One of the greatest challenges for a remote work force is improving communications. In a shared space, there are countless conversations, and interactions that take place in person every day that can be a challenge to replicate, but there are things that you can do:
- Use a messaging software that allows team members to interact in real time on projects
- Update phone directories with personal phone numbers and make it accessible to all employees
- Establish clear expectations for work schedules time and availability as working from home can quickly blur the lines between work hours and personal time
- Utilize and consistently update shared calendars to make it easy for teams to find time to have video/conference calls
- Create social media groups through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc, to allow employees the ability to connect to help maintain and develop internal relationships
- Set consistent team virtual meetings
- Use video messages whenever possible, if there is an update from leadership, team managers or HR, a video message can be helpful to bridge the gap between in person and email communications
- Educate employees on any new tools or software that is implemented to ensure they can stay connected
- Ask employees about the challenges they experience when transitioning to a remote workforce, what do they need to be successful?
A fear some organizations have about a remote working is that there will be a decrease in productivity. Providing clear expectation for each employee and updating or setting their success measurements is vital. Additionally, clearly communicate the consequences for employees that are not following the rules and expectations for working remotely. Employers should also make a conscious decision to trust employees to do their work instead of leaning into the feeling that they need to increase their levels of micromanaging.
Learn from Others
What have other organizations done that are like yours in terms of demographics, location and available technology that have been successful or unsuccessful in implementing a remote working strategy? Asking peer groups, member associations, and other industry leaders what they have done that has worked for them can save you time and stress in avoiding their pitfalls.
Check with an attorney to determine any legal ramifications of implementing a remote work policy in your state.