Remote Working during the COVID-19 Epidemic and Beyond

April 21, 2020

In the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic, most businesses have chosen to embrace working from home policies, as everyone tries to prevent the spread of the virus. The crisis has accelerated the adoption of working remotely, pushing even the technophobes to embrace more digital working.

With several cities around the globe in a lock-down, it is apparent that maybe COVID-19 is the jab we needed to accelerate the change to remote working. And this could go for months, with meetings shifted to video conferencing. The message is Stay safe, stay well, and take care.

Well, get used to it, this could change the workplace forever. Even so, managers and workers will need time to adapt to these new routines. Like you need to figure out how to keep your employees motivated and prevent them from feeling isolated. Work patterns also need to change and how to check on employees.

Essential tech for the home workplace

Since technology is job-specific, you need what is necessary for your work. Some applications are not easily accessed and used off-site, though.  Most employees will, nonetheless, require similar baseline kits to carry out their routine duties. These kits include:

Workstation – each of your employees will need a corporate-approved workstation. You can either unplug their desk workstations to set up in the employees’ homes or have them use a laptop instead. Alternatively, your organization could revise its policies to include bring-your-own-device (BYOD), thus allowing employees to use their own devices.

Broadband Internet Connection – You’ll need to ensure your employees have a reliable and stable internet connection. Some companies are already offering subsidized broadband connection to their employees amid this epidemic. Getting your employee the newer 802.11ac router with hundreds of megabits of throughput will do you much justice.

Data and Application access – For secure access to the data and applications that employees need to carry out their jobs, they can use a VPN provided by you. Alternatively, you can allow your employees to access their office desktop remotely through remote desktop protocol (RDP) application, often integrated into Microsoft Windows.

Quality USB headset – You’ll have frequent briefings and occasional meetings. The equipment enables your home-based employees to attend virtual meetings. But a smartphone with earbuds can also do the trick. But for long sessions, the-head headsets is better as it is more comfortable.

In this case, we have assumed the employees’ homes have a stable power connection. But to protect hardware from fluctuations of power, you could have them get UPS, which often have surge protection and battery backup.

Cloud-Based Collaboration – Setting the hardware isn’t the biggest challenge. Making sure your people access the applications and data they need without compromising your data security is.  But there are lots of cloud-based productivity tools that feature project management and communications elements that could make life easier for everyone.

Communication – In most cases, a phone call rather than email, is preferable to stay in touch. Also, chat room apps like HipChat or Slack encourage both formal and informal communication, keep communicating your team connected, albeit the restricted social distance.

How to Improve the Productivity of a Remote Team?

  1. Set specific goals and targets and clarify the roles for each team and each employee. Also, have a clear vision and set milestones.
  2. Create a cohesive relationship with your team to enhance workflow and productivity levels
  3. Encourage both formal and informal communication between you and your team, and amongst themselves to break the social distance. Doing this prevents anyone from feeling isolated.
  4. Exploit the collaboration tools to assign the tasks, and factor also, deadlines.

As COVID-19 shakes the world, you should not shut down your businesses, but adapt to working at home. The process is not as difficult as you might fear, just a little tech equipment, and you are ready to go. Much of the work involved in setting up a remote work team is simple. But the success of working at home will heavily depend on the self-discipline of your employees. As long as they keep in mind that the “home office” isn’t home, but an office, you will easily navigate the current crisis and perhaps embrace remote team forever.