Remote working is not easy. However, with solid planning, determination, and effective technology, a productive remote-work strategy can really pay off.

By Lior Woznica

As the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to spread without an end in sight, more and more businesses are starting to implement remote-work strategies.

However, there is an endless supply of poor information, incorrect suggestions, invalid pointers, and even a misrepresentation of apparent advantages and/or disadvantages. All of this is simply too overwhelming.

Sadly, the availability of honest and credible case-studies and proven research are in short supply. Working from home and remote-work strategies are not a new phenomenon. They have been viewed in many cases as being beneficial staff retention strategies, which continue to evade and even tempt management. Only recently have these practices become compulsory in the “new normal” way of doing business post-Covid19.

The problem we have is that we lack any long term empirical evidence of the effectiveness of remote-working beyond government enforced lockdown and regulations, and most of us have never felt it necessary to push our business resources beyond their current limits; to disconnect our management and staff, and to push our finances to the limit. We were simply not given any warning, nor a fair chance to even attempt to plan for such drastic workplace changes. This was dumped upon us overnight from a dizzying height. We have no choice – either we swim very fast or drown

As remote working can in fact present a win-win situation for both employers and employees, what exactly are the lessons that will help us succeed and adopt a winning-work-from-home-strategy into the future  as we mitigate the well-known downside of isolation and limited career progression and embrace the many positives aspects of remote working.

Most of our journeys from the deep to the shallow side of the lake will often be riddled with annoying challenges, such as power supply interruption and weak mobile data coverage. However, there are a number of solid practical tips and advice we can share with our colleagues.

Five practical tips to assist with a remote-work strategy:

 

#1 Quality of service

Quality refers to an all-encompassing approach to the remote strategy: it is inherent throughout the remote processes and is found in the following areas of our operations:

  • Computer hardware.
  • Network and associated securities.
  • Communications platform.
  • Reporting and measurements must be enhanced – we are interacting less, so the quality of information must be improved.
  • Intelligent management becomes key – we are making decisions based on facts and reported outcomes.

#2 Stabilisation

  • Stay close to the action; identify trends and problems and be pro-active; do not be afraid to make changes.
  • Engage with the various remote teams and management; listen to staff concerns and problems – we are operating in a different world, so listening and guiding are the new order.
  • This is a perfect time to simplify and re-organise processes. In order to succeed, focus on what is worthwhile to address.
  • Key reporting must be accurate and useful; visualisation and real-time reports are vital – you do not need reams of reports, you simply need smart reports.

#3 Managing Remote staff

  • You cannot make everyone happy – learn that right now.
  • It is business as usual and we start our day like any other day – just in a different setting, but with the exact same expectations and challenges.
  • You simply cannot continue addressing the same problems – day in and day out – it reaches a point that if something is not working, then it ought to be changed. The very same goes with people.
  • The stats do not lie.
  • Remain engaged with your staff and listen to them. They are more afraid than you are, so show leadership by guiding and motivating them, and by making your objectives clear and aligning everyone with these objectives.
  • Make use of surveys and e-learning tools. This is a great time to do quality assurance – you will learn many new things, and these will improve your business.

#4 Network and data security

  • Up to date anti-virus and network tools are imperative.
  • Audit-trails that are easily accessed and associated reports.
  • Staff awareness.
  • Zero tolerance policies for transgressions.
  • Network surveillance tools.
  • Clearly defined shift patterns.
  • Locking down of personal computers.
  • Remote-working policies.
  • Clear policies for staff transgressions

#5 Ongoing engagement with staff and management

  • You can stay in touch.
  • Make a proper effort.
  • Avoid being trapped in the “out of sight out of mind” scenario.

We will all need to keep swimming against an unknown current. Every organisation has its own unique style of swimming which will work for that particular organisation. It is crucial that we all jump in at the deep end to ensure our businesses survive, remain competitive and thrive. It is also crucial that we all acquire and perfect remote working capabilities and, whether or not we use them immediately, they will still remain useful skills to have in a very uncertain future business world.

 

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