We are fortunate to live in times when we have the technology to work remotely. Especially during a crisis, telecommuting is a viable and sensible tool. In uncertain periods it is critical to maintain as much normalcy as possible. That includes conducting business. This keeps your employees occupied and paid. It prevents additional economic downturns associated with situations beyond our control.
By having your business continue operations, it means the company stays afloat. Projects are completed on time. Customers have been retained and your doors will remain open. After the dust settles, it will be an excellent marketing tactic to point out that it was business “almost as normal” during this period. This can also stand in good stead when talking to investors or financial advisors. It will increase employee loyalty knowing that you are able to adapt to their needs and an excellent selling point when trying to attract new employees.
For employees it means income to cover rent and mortgage payments, food, and utilities. It also lessens the stress about navigating the highways during hectic events (like the Olympics). For issues like isolation or quarantine, it will give the employees opportunities to keep occupied and less time to worry about the “what ifs” of the situation. Positive attitudes have proven to be some of the best medicine.
There are excellent technology tools available to help communicate and help with the insecurity that often comes with being physically apart. Creative uses for the tools we have mean that, as a society, we continue to help each other to survive even the toughest of times.
Remote Operation Tips
There are some practical steps to take as an employer and as an employee to make telecommuting successful.
- Hours – As an employer you need to establish standard hours during which the employee will be available. Just because the employee is around the house 24/7 is no reason to expect that they will be working for you during all that time. In the same respect, the employee should be available for clients at reasonable hours. All of this will demonstrate the professionalism of the employee and of the company.
- Space – Have a designated space to work, preferably separate from a common area. That way you have a clear boundary to maintain a balance between work and your other life. It can also serve as notice to children or roommates that interruptions should be avoided. It helps you focus on your job and away from household tasks that seem to take more time than necessary.
- Dress up – While it may seem fun to work in your jammies, it will be less professional for those video meetings. It also adds to your self respect to maintain appropriate demeanour to your work tasks.
- Technology – As an employer it is important to provide the proper technology for home mobile devices and any support that may be necessary.
The Good and the Bad
There are both positives and negatives to a remote workforce. In fact, some of the factors are both good and bad at the same time.
Pros - Employer
- Better Pool – Because there is less concern about hiring someone whose personality will not mesh with the group, there is a greater choice for hiring. It also opens up the world rather than just those people in your city.
- Lower Rent – Less space means lower lease costs.
- Wages – Hiring remote employees in a part of the country or world that has a lower base salary can save some big bucks.
Pros - Employee
- Commute – The flexibility of not fighting traffic or running for public transportation saves time and money.
- Health – Being able to avoid that one employee who comes to work with the sniffles and then shares with the rest of the crew, is a definite plus.
- Satisfaction – In general, people who work from home seem to enjoy their work more.
Cons – Employer
- Supervision – Because the work is performed off site you must rely on feedback from clients about any problems or compliments.
- Miscommunication – Because the final product is frequently the first time you see the project, if the employee was off target could mean a significant amount of time wasted and even a deadline missed.
- Allocation – It can be difficult to be sure you are allocating the projects appropriately. You have no idea of someone is just slow at the job or they are slacking off.
Cons – Employee
- Loneliness – There is no one to chat with at the water cooler. Social interaction is a great part of the work world to share ideas and opinions.
- Staying Organized and Focused – It can be difficult to remain motivated and handle some of the mundane tasks. There is no one to prod you into action. It is also tempting to handle some household jobs like just a couple of loads of laundry that actually eat into the paid work time.
- Internet Connections – Not all areas of the country or even city have reliable or fast connections. It also brings up the question of whether the company should pay for some of the ISP charges or you need to pick up the entire tab.
One of the ways to resolve some of the negatives is to maintain regular group and one-on-one conferences. A daily call would not be out of order so that all the parties remain in touch and go over current assignments, completion dates and any critical information. That doesn’t preclude the idea that either the boss or worker bee can just pick up the phone or dash off an email to be sure everyone is on the same page.
Solid communication should be the basis for strong team relationships even if no one is in the same room. It can also alleviate some of the solitude of self isolation.
Here are some mobile-friendly apps to consider:
- Slack – This is a system that works through channels. You can organize these channels any way you want to suit your needs. It integrates with existing apps to assure the efficient flow of data and everything is on a public channel to keep abreast of activities or to review what has happened.
- Microsoft 365 – This is a hosting service that will work within your organization or can post live events for the general public. A major plus is this service is being offered at a free one-year subscription during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Proof-Hub – This software incorporates individual conversations, group chats, discussion groups and the ability for teams and individuals to join at will. It works on iOS, Android, Windows and web.
- Chanty – Based on AI technology, this is a communication app that incorporates chatting, video calls, threaded messages and screen sharing. It integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox and Teambook. Teambook lets you see all messages, contacts and tasks at a single site. There is also unlimited history.
- Troop Messenger – Another top app, this has a user-friendly admin dashboard. Missed conversations are available. There is also the ability to send messages and attachments to multiple users and groups through Forkout.
It is prudent to take advantage of any opportunities that will allow you to continue as a productive member of society. As a business owner you have a responsibility to customers and to your employees. As a consumer, it is important to continue to patronize your suppliers to the best of your abilities. As an employee, to give a fair day’s work for fair pay.
In times of distress, it is even more important to be prudent but still continue as ordinarily as possible. There is a lot of technology at hand and it is essential that we use it well.
Here are 2excel we have always had the flexibility to work remotely. We have discovered what works and what doesn’t through trial and error. Through this time of crisis we are offering help to businesses that don’t yet have the remote option but wanting to implement a remote working environment.
Clients/Customers would always prefer to hear “Business as usual” than “We are closed for business.”
For more information give our friendly team at 2excel a call on 1300 885 340. “Don’t wait until its too late!”