We are entering an unprecedented time with a global pandemic impacting us personally, professionally and economically.  As we struggle to ‘flatten the curve’, many organizations are moving to a work from home policy for the first time.  We have been a mostly remote company from day one and hope to offer a few tips to our customers and colleagues who don’t yet have those experiences.

 

1. Enable your team to set up a safe work environment at home.  They will need basic hardware – a computer/laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.  They also need to have some basic instructions on how to ensure that their set up is secure.  Give them basic instructions on securing their home network.  Make sure that they acknowledge that although they are not in the office physically, the security and privacy policies they’re used to working under still apply.  For example, if you have a clean desk policy at work, they need to follow it at home as well.  Access to their company provided equipment should be guarded, it shouldn’t be used for the kids’ homework.

2. Once their ‘home office’ is setup and secure, make sure there are clear expectations about what work should be done each day. Managing remote workers requires a different strategy than most implement in the office. You can’t see how long a person sits at their desk any longer, but you can measure their output/productivity. Daily or weekly reports should be shared with an update on the progress made to on going projects and status of in coming requests. Tools that allow your team to seamlessly track their work as they are working are extremely helpful but not necessary.

At Bigfork, we use ALOE for our teams to collaborate and we can view our dashboard reports and activity tracker to see who has done what in the last 24 hours. But even without that, you can get a daily summary from your team members by email to keep you up to date on their progress. If someone isn’t making the progress you expect, step in quickly and ask for reasons why and if they need your help getting over some roadblock. Performance issues are trickier with remote workers so managers need to be more aware of productivity and have conversations earlier than they would in the office.

The important thing to remember is that we are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.

3.  Enable collaboration within your organization. Whether you use Microsoft teams, Google hangouts, Slack or some other tool you need to enable quick questions or other collaboration to occur easily and naturally.  At Bigfork, we use ALOE and Slack to work together on projects, ask questions of our colleagues, and even the occasional conversation about the latest episode of whatever podcast we’re listening to.

4.  Weekly video conferences are extremely helpful to keep people engaged. You may be getting a feeling that we’re repeating the communication theme, because we are.  Different methods of communication work with different people.  But all serve dual purposes.  First, it serves to keep everyone updated on the work that is being done by their colleagues.  Which is motivating and keeps employees on task when it’s easy to get off track with so many new distractions.  Second, it serves to keep people feeling engaged.  Being able to see faces keeps people connected, even if they are being told the same thing they were told over email, Slack, or in whatever tool you are using to manage your work.

The important thing to remember is that we are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.

5.  Be flexible. Everyone is going through a lot of stressful situations right now.  Schools are closed and parents are trying to figure out how to manage childcare when all traditional sources are no longer available.  Other employees may be struggling with caring for or protecting their elderly parents from exposure or dealing with a spouse’s job loss.  As long as the productivity  and progress is where it should be, don’t freak out if they have to take a little longer lunch break so they can get someone else fed or if they split their hours to do a little extra after the kids go to bed knowing they’re not as effective during the daytime hours when everyone else in the house is demanding their time.

The important thing to remember is that we are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.

Tanya Avila

Tanya Avila

Tanya has made a career of building legal departments in fast paced, fast growth environments. Having repeated the process at half a dozen different organizations, she is passionate about all things that bring efficiency and sanity to the internal legal process.