Stock markets are plunging, supply chains are being disrupted, and in the middle of it all, many small and medium-sized businesses are asking more employees to work from home as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. The pandemic is redefining the way teams communicate and work. At present, remote work has become the norm for most businesses, which also brings up new challenges such as keeping control of all the processes and maintaining the operational efficiency of the organizations.
However, right now, remote work is not an option or a privilege; it has become the norm in most organizations right after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 reached the pandemic status and urged authorities to step in to prevent the virus from spreading. Under the current circumstances, businesses need to maintain their productivity levels and workers should not feel disconnected or lost.
Here we have listed few tips for anyone looking to improve the operational efficiency of their companies while their employees are working from home.
Invest in work-from-home technology
To work from home, it is necessary to have enough bandwidth to do the kind of work is expected. Some companies may also need cloud storage, secure Wi-Fi networks or collaboration tools and internal communications programs such as Zoom for video conferencing, Slack or Microsoft Teams for group chats, or Trello for project management. Teleconferencing and telework technology have become vitally needs for businesses that are dealing with remote teams. One of the most helpful technologies for remote work is video conferencing because it helps out-of-office workers see and speak to one another in real time
Keeping your technologies updated plays an important role in your organization’s ability to remain efficient and relevant while adopting remote work. However, just having the right technology is not enough; this needs to be updated and improved on a regular basis. Otherwise, tools and resources become obsolete.
Communicate often with your staff
One of the essential things to keep an effective control of your operations is to communicate with your team. To start with, you need to setup periodic virtual all-company meetings, which are crucial to keep everyone on the same page so they can understand core company values. For team members, it is also important to communicate with their co-workers on a daily basis otherwise; remote workers may feel disconnected. That is why it is so important to check in frequently and be proactive. Frequent check-ins with remote workers are great ways to help them overcome challenges that come with remote work. It is also critical to provide employees the opportunities to share their doubts and concerns. To avoid any misunderstanding, the first thing you should do is ensure all team members and departments have open lines of communication between them. You must also ensure your team has continuous access to relevant information. Sharing one database could be the right way to ensure your team is working with the same information in order to make accurate and timely decisions.
Choose the appropriate communication tools
Technological innovations can simplify and improve remote communication and team collaboration and provide team members the opportunity to be engaged as part of the team who spend their time working to reach collective goals. Here, it is essential to make easy for your employees to keep up with the latest company updates and find all the materials and information they need to working efficiently on their own or as part of a team.
Implement a work-from-home policy
A work from home policy is an agreement between employer and employee that defines responsibilities and expectations for employees who work from home. It may also define who is eligible to work from home, how to request working from home and the evaluation and approval process. During mandatory work from home crises like COVID-19), these policies ensures that employees how what they have to do in order to remain productive.
Even if your organization support flexibility, having some rules might help employees feel like they are a part of your organizational culture.
Schedule your tasks
A clear schedule will keep you and your employees informed about the most urgent tasks, the way they need to spend their time and what is expected from them individually and as part of a team. Keeping a schedule will help you to be certain all your processes are on time and your customers’ needs are being taken care of. Schedule are also necessary to forecast resources so you can allocate them to the more urgent tasks.
Get real time data
Using advanced data analytics models in real time opens up an entire new world of possibilities for improving your production processes. Real-time process monitoring provide a great level of confidence in your team performance and can help improving the quality of your production. When you have a real-time data solution through a digital dashboard, managers and employees can tell at a glance what is going on and which changes and improvements need to be made. They can also identify bottlenecks, delays and get relevant information to compare it with standards and expectations.
Make daily reports
A daily report can show the current tasks of the company and, to some extent, the impact of recent events. It is an effective way to monitor tasks, review data and avoid miscommunication and unpleasant surprises. The most important thing about having a daily project status report is to ensure that every team member is working as planned.
Keep track of customer support
Your customers are the heart of your business. To ensure your team is reaching them effectively while working from home, it is a good idea using software that allows your employees to strengthen your relationship with your customers. However, it is not a good idea to automate the process. Instead, use software that strengthen your relationship with your customers without automating the whole process. Automation can frustrate your customers. Therefore, the best way to provide improve customer satisfaction is communicating with your customers on a regular basis and keeping track of the support provided.
Use mobile forms
These allows you to spend less time monitoring your team, managing customers and more time improving your product and business operations. Managers often need to put together daily or weekly reports to send updates to their team, customers and internal stakeholders. Teams using forms on mobile devices have access to that information sooner and can provide more accurate and frequent updates..
Provide access to mobile devices
Today, working from home is easier than ever; all you need is a mobile device. Smartphone apps allow employees to work remotely with the same functionality on their devices. However, you need to make sure your team have access to Internet and to your management system at all times. They might also need for business productivity apps. If you do not properly manage and secure the people, devices, data and networks involved in a remote access deployment, you may put your business at risk.
Empower your remote employees
Remote workers want to be a part of decision making in companies that they work for. Therefore, employers should empower them to take their own decisions, communicate and put into action new ideas. According to a research on employee empowerment, employees who felt a low level of empowerment were rated with engagement at the 24th percentile. On the other hand, those with a high level of empowerment were at the 79th percentile. Therefore, empowerment is factor that has a positive impact on workers’ performance
Develop & review a technology constantly
Technology is continuously evolving and your business requirements are constantly changing. Your organization’s equipment and software need to be re-evaluated very often to ensure your IT solutions align properly with your organization goals and requirements. Every year or, depending on how fast your company grows, you can sit down with an IT consultant or your IT Provider to discuss what your organization need, in terms of technology, in order to stay competitive and efficient. You constantly need to upgrade your system, simplify a few processes, standardized procedures, and implement a Business Intelligence and digital tools to keep up with the latest development and requirements. Developing a technology plan can help you to realize what are you missing out to keep your productivity high.
Define goals for home workers
According to research, 39% of people working from home complete their tasks faster than those in fixed workplaces. In order to set them up for success, employers have to set clear and measurable goals for their remote employees. When worker are working from home, communication can be more challenging and many things can get lost in translation. For that reason, it is important to be clear about everybody’s goals, duties and responsibilities.
Team collaboration is one of the main factors to increase productivity. Therefore, many organizations are trying to improve the way remote teams work together. Team collaboration and employee engagement solutions are the best way to eliminate misunderstandings and errors. In order to keep your remote employees engaged, you should add some fun to it.
In this article, we have summarized few tips to effectively keep working with your employees and keep control your business operations during the pandemic. In times of crisis, it is critical to know how to coordinate employees’ efforts and cross-departmental collaboration in order to maintain team productivity whilst employees are scattered across multiple zones. Some analysts say that working from home is just a temporary measure while others claim that this experience is redefining the future of work. Only the time will show us who is right.