With a growing number of new cases of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, reported in the U.S. in previous days – Silicon Valley, Seattle, and other key business centers among those reporting new community-spread cases – the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) is urging organizations to create contingency plans should the disease continue to spread.
Companies like Nestlé SA, which recently told more than 290,000 employees to suspend all international business travel until March 15, to skip domestic travel and is encouraging employees to work from home where possible, recognize that remote work is one way to keep workers safe while minimizing business disruption.
However, remote work is not as simple as hopping on the phone or opening your laptop to get to work. Following are a few key starters necessary to implement remote work.
- Design clear policies. Clearly define participation rules and guidelines for remote workers, including expectations around working hours and etiquette around remote meetings.
- Implement effective change management principles. Make sure leadership offers a constant stream of communication, reinforcing where employees can turn for help – both with regards to their work but also for emotional support.
- Ensure you have reliable tools. Virtual whiteboard tools like Mural allow teams to co-create and share ideas more effectively. Secure, cloud-based content management systems like OneDrive for Business, Box and SharePoint Online provide simultaneous editing and sharing capabilities and also allow for efficient content discovery. Zoom or Teams for conference calls are good substitutes for in-person meetings.
- Provide responsive support. Create a support infrastructure that prioritizes remote worker requests and maintain the tools to handle issues remotely. Help desk personnel and procedures should be updated to include new remote work use cases and tools. Augment your self-service help capabilities by creating learning portals on your intranet that teach your employees how to use new tools.
- Create an intentional remote culture. Hold regular virtual non-work related meetings with your employees to talk about more casual topics.
“Organizations are realizing that the future of work demands flexibility and agility, especially in a world in which epidemics and natural disasters threaten to wreak havoc on the global economy,” said Point B Future of Work Principal Kai Andrews. “We are currently assisting several global enterprises as they seek to implement remote work to minimize downtime during this epidemic and in case of other natural disasters.”
To learn more about and get help implementing remote work capabilities, contact email@example.com.
This piece was also published in Seattle Business magazine.