Work from Home

How to Prepare Your Employees to Work From Home During Coronavirus

In News by Adam Porroni

The rise of the coronavirus pandemic is certainly not the situation I would have wanted to discuss or be forced to discuss. I want to start with saying – as a personal note to any reader – I feel for you and hopefully we will see some positive changes and news in the coming months.

Coronavirus is, to quote a business colleague, the black swan of 2020. It moved quickly and continues to disrupt life with significant worldwide impact. It has likely affected your daily routine. Schools are closing, large events are being cancelled or rescheduled, and people are being encouraged to self-quarantine. There is an understandable level of concern and anxiety. We are all experiencing this together.

If you’re a business owner or leader, there are even more ramifications to consider. Many expect the coronavirus to have an economic impact on businesses, both locally and globally. While there are many places you can look to tighten things up to weather the storm, your technology portfolio may be a place where you can see savings for your company. If you haven’t done a recent technology assessment, consider the benefits of it, especially when many of these assessments can be done remotely.

Many companies are now requiring employees to work from home to help slow the spread of the virus. Is your company fully prepared if your city, state, or region requires that people work from home? If not, here is how you can prepare to manage a remote workforce.

Technology Considerations

Before your workforce goes remote, make sure you have the following technologies in place:

A secure data tunnel: While your employees will use their at-home internet, they still need to be able to access and transmit confidential company information. A secure data tunnel (usually a VPN, but there are some other methods) allows private network communications to be sent across a public network, providing as close to end-to-end encryption as possible. This also enables a priority path for business communication, which is especially important if others in the employee’s home are using the internet at the same time.

A platform or asset suite to maintain productivity: You should be equipped with operations tools, such as a feedback tool for process iteration and for keeping a pulse on employee satisfaction and morale. Productivity software should be useful and streamlined so that employees can keep being creative and productive. You should also have time-tracking tools to keep contractors and employees on track and ensure not only accurate billing for clients, but offer piece of mind to your clients that they don’t have to worry about transparency when working with your remote team.

High availability and fault-tolerant datastore servers: An increased number of remote workers will result in a higher number of requests, which can put a significant burden on your system if you don’t have servers that can maintain reliability. In addition, a centralized or partially-centralized datastore (or set of datastores) provides a single source for sharing information, reducing further headaches if things weren’t previously easy to find.

Directories and distinct and secure user accounts per team member: This is obviously helpful in terms of organizing the people within your company, but more importantly, it provides each remote worker with unique, distinct, and manageable access to documents and shared data spaces. This also enables your operations and security teams to review activity in a system and to track actions back to a specific user account when necessary.

Video conferencing and/or a phone calling solution: While email is an effective form of communication, your company shouldn’t be limited to only electronic communication. Having a video- or audio-conferencing solution in place will give your employees more options to communicate, which can keep operations running normally. It can also increase morale by promoting good and healthy social interactions.

Cybersecurity:  Companies should ensure they have a solid security policy and plan in place for all remote workers.  A Google search will show recent articles regarding a new wave of cyberattacks on workers working from home as a result of coronavirus.  Now is a good time to stress-test your cybersecurity systems and ransomware protection.

People and Process Considerations

In addition to the necessary technologies and tools, make sure your company considers and addresses the following:

Communication standards: Establish standards for good communication and how often you expect to hear from employees. Will you be checking in by email or instant message? When and how often should the employee check in with his or her manager each day? Establishing these expectations now can make the transition to remote work easier.

Training: Your employees may not have experience working remotely, so make sure to train them before sending them outside of the office. Test your “experience design” in advance to ensure that employees will have access to everything they need to do their jobs.

Stay flexible: Ask questions. See how your employees are adjusting to remote work. Be open to receiving feedback and adjusting your systems and processes. In fact, we recommend making at least one change per week to experiment with how different processes or assets impact work-from-home models.

If you have questions, we are here to help, so please reach out if you need additional assistance. Above all, do what you can to keep yourself, your family, and your company healthy.

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