COVID-19 accelerated an already rapidly unfolding discussion about the future of work. The availability of flexible work resources is greater than ever, but many teams lack adequate governance in place to effectively leverage them. The most common mistake is to assume that remote work is essentially in-office work conducted elsewhere. Organizations that recognize and account for the differences have the greatest success. Here are some general tips to consider:
Policies provide a way for employers to outline their expectations and for employees to acknowledge those expectations. Remote work policies should clearly define standards for productivity, availability, professionalism, and communication. Policies should also describe HR, legal, IT, and other resources available to remote staff. No employee should feel less valued for working remotely.
Policies are supported by procedures which describe in detail how employees should perform their duties while working remotely. Procedures can be specific to roles or teams. Good procedures will also account for abnormal situations, such as what to do when loaned equipment fails or home internet is disrupted.
Employers should also strongly consider remote work training. Remote work is less intuitive than it seems and training can encourage staff to follow best practices such as maintaining a separate, distraction-free workspace, clearly defining work times, and creating ways to facilitate online communication.
Provide the right tools!
More systems and apps are not always better when working remotely. There should be enough to be productive, but not so many that staff feel stretched between them. Generally, one of each of these is necessary:
- An email and calendar platform such as Outlook
- An instant messaging tool such as Teams
- A virtual meeting tool such as Zoom
- A productivity suite such as Office 365
- A file management system such as OneDrive
Don’t forget security!
It’s easy to let your guard down at home, but security can be even more important without the controls in the physical office.
Policies and procedures should include information security guidance:
- Avoid public Wi-Fi and utilize VPNs
- Never use found or unknown flash drives
- Even at home, be cognizant of overheard conversations, disposal of printed materials, and locking screens.
- Most of all, work data should stay on work platforms!
Organizations must carefully consider whether to utilize internally owned and managed equipment or allow staff to bring-your-own-device (BYOD). BYOD environments can potentially save money and resources and allow staff to use equipment they know and like, but can make managing device security and preventing data loss more difficult.
It’s important to remember that the goal of remote work is flexibility. Remote work arrangements allow employees to work in the environments that fit them best, and a certain amount of trust must exist that staff will follow through. Additionally, sometimes ad hoc arrangements will be necessary due to unforeseen events. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good!
Most importantly, remember the human!
Remote work processes focus on the use of technology, but never forget that humans are every organization’s most valuable resource. Humans are social creatures. We crave connection and face-to-face interaction. Employers should encourage webcam use whenever possible and sponsor social events. At Intrinium, we’ve stayed connected with dance parties, virtual movie nights, and lip-sync battles. Some Intrinium teams have even adopted daily video watercooler chats. Teams that feel engaged and connected will always outperform teams that don’t.
Intrinium has guided organizations large and small in developing effective, secure flexible work solutions. If your team is looking to expand remote work options, reach out to us today.