We’ve all been told to be careful what we wish for…but who hasn’t wished at one point or another that they could work from home rather than fight traffic to sit in the office all day? Well, that wish has come true in today’s new normal of social distancing and many employers are suddenly and unexpectedly faced with learning how to continue business remotely. Although in recent years, some industries have jumped on the remote bandwagon, many are facing this struggle for the first time. And even those businesses who are accustomed to employees working from home already are now forced to solve new issues that have popped up. So what are some of the biggest challenges employers are facing today, how can we solve them, and will social distancing forever change the way we work?
One of the best perks of working from home is that employees are better able to balance work and family responsibilities. But the shutdown of schools and offices now means that everyone in the family is home which can be a major distraction for a normally productive employee. We’ve all seen the clips of children interrupting video calls and while they’re certainly adorable, if it becomes a pattern, then quality work is not happening.
To ensure that employees are continuing to put in effort, bosses can look to project management tools to track time and productivity. These software based tools are accessible from anywhere and are much more hands-off than a daily check in call with everyone. Plus, it puts the responsibility in the hands of employees which reassures them they are not being micromanaged. Ultimately, employers should strive to find a balance between managing expectations of productivity and allowing their employees the flexibility that comes with working from home.
The way in which business is being conducted has changed in the face of COVID-19. Since employees are unable to gather in meeting rooms to brainstorm and collaborate, businesses have relied on tools such as Zoom or other voice over internet protocol (VOIP) technologies. While these apps are instrumental in continuing business as usual, they come with a new set of challenges.
Leaders can solve the issue of lack of collaboration during remote working by using video technology to run meetings as they normally would in a full office setting. Make use of features such as Zoom breakout rooms to allow small groups to collaborate. Keeping the same routines signals to employees that although the way we work has changed, the actual work itself remains the same.
Working remotely has introduced a whole slew of new challenges in terms of technology and logistics. People simply do not have the same equipment or internet bandwidth at home (and now may be sharing it with other family members) as they do in the office. This can cause a lag in productivity, result in incorrect information, and cause frustration for everyone involved.
If possible, it’s ideal to provide remote workers with any equipment needed to do their job. Things like laptops and extra monitors can be easily loaned out to employees. This way, they are not relying on their own computer or taking away from anyone else in their house.
While remote working was meant to be a temporary solution to offices closing their doors, it may very well be the way in which business is done from here on out. We’re facing a whole new way of working that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so now is the time to make necessary changes to company policies.
It’s relatively easy to track employee time and progress remotely, but employers also need to be wary of security policies for working from home. If you haven’t already, make sure your business updates employee handbooks to include things like requirements for anti-virus software on computers, downloading files, setting passwords, and opening links in emails. It’s difficult to monitor employee behaviors at home, so getting these policies down in writing is critical.
Additionally, consider policies regarding time off during remote working. While employees often enjoy being able to strike a balance between home and work, it can be difficult to draw a line between the two. Set clear expectations of hours employees need to be working and encourage them to take time off when needed.
This new world of remote working can be difficult to navigate for both employers and employees, but all of the challenges we face can be solved. We specialize in human resource services, so if you need any assistance we are open and happy to help. Give us a call today at (603) 601-4515 or email info@MarcMichaudAssociates.com.
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