Navigating to a Remote Workforce During the COVID-19 Outbreak


Many businesses in India are moving to either a partially or entirely remote workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more businesses closing due to the growing number of coronavirus cases, it’s important to find ways to efficiently make the switch to working from home. As you prepare your staff for telecommuting, consider the information in this guide to help you plan the transition.

In this guide we will cover:

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How to plan for a remote work transition

Use the following steps as a guide to help you plan to move to remote work:

1. Collaborate with managers and team leads

When planning for a remote transition, it’s important to discuss ideas and strategies with staff in leadership roles. For instance, allow team leaders and managers to brainstorm and give their input on the best tools to use, ways to keep employees engaged and when to plan for team collaboration using online methods. Additionally, encourage managers, team leads and supervisors to lead by example by promoting top-down change. For example, when senior leaders stop coming into the office and start working remotely, it helps signal to other employees that they can feel comfortable doing the same.

During your brainstorm, start the conversation with questions like:

  • What communication platforms should we use for staying connected with employees?
  • Which video conferencing app is the best for holding team meetings?
  • How are we going to ensure employee productivity and engagement?

2. Choose one reliable communication method for important information

Be transparent with your staff about the transitions you’re making to remote work using the channel of communication most of your employees use. Foster open communication and create channels within your communication tools for employees to share information, socialise and converse with each other. Additionally, keep your tool stack simple by designating one reliable communication platform that everyone will use to stay in touch, ask questions and give feedback. With one designated tool, you can easily share and receive important information related to work in addition to the latest news updates on the outbreak.

3. Establish a remote management team

To work effectively at home, employees need direction and feedback from managers and team leaders. Identify key managers who will be responsible for leading and supporting different processes of your business so employees know who they should report to. For instance, consider establishing a management team in charge of project development, quality assurance and other processes within the workflow of your business’s operations.

4. Set up a remote resource tool (like an FAQ document)

Your employees may have questions about what to expect regarding remote work assignments and other concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. Because of this, it is important to set up an online resource, such as a FAQ page, where employees can find answers to questions related to productivity, work-life balance and health-based resources. For example, you can set up a universal document through an online application where employees can log in and check for updates.

Additionally, communicate regularly with employees to learn about their concerns and suggestions and answer any questions they may have so you can add more information to the resource. Keep staff up to date on the latest news regarding COVID-19 cases and facts by including a running list of links that direct your staff to the appropriate news, media and health updates on the pandemic.

5. Form a plan for communication

Effective communication is crucial to transitioning to remote work, so it’s important to establish a plan for regular contact. Consider instituting weekly team meetings through an online conferencing platform to stay updated on progress. Similarly, daily emails with essential updates regarding completed projects, new project developments and other tasks can help you keep employees informed.

6. Streamline your technology and tools

Transitioning to a remote workforce often depends on certain tools and resources to help make work processes run smoothly. Communication tools, productivity tools and project management tools are essential to maintaining consistency across the various operations of your business. It’s important, however, that you implement only the necessary tools you and your staff will need to complete tasks and stay in contact. For instance, an online word processing application, a company-wide communication tool and a video conferencing platform may be all you need to get your remote workforce up and running.

Tips for keeping your business running during the COVID-19 pandemic

Consider the following information for managing a remote workforce:

Provide company equipment if you can

This depends on exactly what your teams need to perform their jobs. If employees can bring home their office laptops, for example, it can be helpful if family members regularly use their home computers. Ultimately, the choice to provide office equipment to your employees can be contingent on the costs of supplying such tools in addition to what your business is able to securely send home with staff. Consider creating a ‘check-out’ system on the last day of work. Log what equipment employees are borrowing in order to track expensive equipment.

Interview and hire employees remotely

If you have interviews coming up or you’re looking to hire new team members, you can do it all online. Use a video conferencing platform like Skype or Zoom to conduct interviews, or you can even perform phone interviews. Consider creating a shareable document that provides new employees with business information such as employee handbooks and other important documents. Additionally, if you have forms that require employee signatures, you can use an applications like DocuSign to send and receive confidential paperwork securely.

Integrate online communication tools

Set up regular check-ins to review employees’ work, answer questions and assign new tasks. Keep your teams connected through online communication platforms with file-sharing and private chat features. These tools are beneficial for organising workflow and sharing information in a remote environment and can help keep employees engaged and productive. Similarly, if you notice some employees are quiet within your communication channels, reach out individually or set up regular remote one-on-one meetings.

Support employees’ work-life balance

Designate a team lead to manage small groups of employees while working remotely. These leaders can act as mentors to provide professional support and a source of friendly advice that help encourage employees to make clear boundaries between working times and leisure times. Similarly, team leaders can offer moral support to encourage employees to find a quiet, distraction-free space that they designate as their workspace. At the end of each workday, team leaders can catch up with their teams to check on progress and ensure employees aren’t overworking. Finally, consider remote happy hours and activities. Plug-ins like Netflix Party allow users to watch movies together. Use video conferencing to designate time to eat lunch together or have daily conversations with the video turned on.

Use and share available government and medical resources

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website provides guidance for employers and businesses, as well as information regarding what to do if an employee starts showing symptoms.

Essentially, shifting entirely to a remote work environment requires full support from leaders and staff to ensure the smoothest transition possible. Keep employees updated and provide moral support to help make the change efficiently.

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