There is a whole lot of panic happening worldwide right now. Whether it’s media fueled mass hysteria or very warranted concerns, companies are rethinking how they’re going to manage business interactions in the coming months.
The obvious choice, and the one many companies are choosing to adopt, is to let employees work remotely until the fear dies down. But setting remote employees up for success is easier said than done.
As a person who has been working remotely for 5+ years, I’d normally encourage people to really think hard about whether or not they’ll enjoy/be productive in a remote environment, but fear around the outbreak is beginning to force people’s hands.
So how do you set a business that has been completely office based for eternity up for success as a partial or fully remote employee based business? I’m going to way oversimplify this into a quick checklist. There are tons of resources online that will make for great detailed reading, but to kick things off you’ll need to consider these implications and get set up with the right soft and hardware.
- Significantly amp up your cyber security before you release your laptops into the wild
In office you may have great monitoring and security methods in place, but letting people take their work laptops home opens their machines up to the wild west of network & wifi hacking. A majority of employees don’t experience any fear hooking into their unprotected home network, or firing up their laptop at a coffee shop. You’re going to need to contract with a security firm/team familiar with protecting machines that leave the office. Tools like Fleetsmith and Encryt.me (or another VPN) will likely come up in conversation. As a non security expert I’m not going to pick services for you since I’m not familiar with your business, but don’t just let people walk out the door with their laptops without any training/security upgrades/monitoring.
- Web Conference Software
I’m a huge fan of Zoom for web conferences. You can do face to face team meetings with 2-100 people, or 500 people+ at once in an upgraded webinar format.
Huge Slack fan here, especially for companies new to remote work. It will take your workforce time to get used to since they’re used to “popping over” to ask questions, but it’s significantly better than getting 900 single question emails. And there are some great plug-ins that allow you to integrate other software workflows right into your Slack channels.
- Project Tracking
Set up a formal company wide project tracking software system. Check out Trello or Asana or InVision if you’re a company that doesn’t already use tools like Jira or Confluence.
Every company is different with synchronous vs. asynchronous work rhythms—decide in advance how you want your schedule to work. If you still want everyone “on the clock” from 9–5 make that clear. If you’re ok with people being on the clock 5 hours a day with the other hours being flexible as long as projects get completed on time at high quality, then go for it. My advice is to start out with strict written policies, until you find out how your workforce is going to handle remote setup. Loosening things up over time is received far better than starting loose and making policies more strict over time.
- Bonus Points: Wifi Upgrades
If you expect the remote situation for your company to be longer term, giving a stipend to upgrade your team members’ at home wifi setups will save you hours of irritation in the future. There is nothing worse than choppy wifi or constant drops during a conference call. If your employees are local, foot the difference between low cost wifi and upgraded speeds, and invest in upgraded modems and wifi routers and expert installation for team members. Again, depending on the size of your workforce, this could be a hefty upfront investment, but it will help keep your business running smoothly until you’re all in one place again. (And honestly, you may find that a physical office space isn’t as necessary as you previous believed it to be.
Again, this is a VERY simplistic starting point. Getting these in line will not make you an instant remote company success, but they’re a place to start if you find yourself scrambling to go remote.
For a great list of additional, more in depth remote work resources, check out We Work Remotely.