In response to changing circumstances and uncertainties due to COVID-19, organizations have found themselves in situations where they quickly need to set employees up to work from home for an extended period, or even transition to fully remote work.
From an employee perspective, the shift can incite feelings of concern, confusion, and disruption among others. As GitLab, an all-remote DevOps software company, writes in its team handbook, “while remote work is liberating and empowering, it can be jarring and isolating for those who are not equipped to manage the change.”
Harvard Business Review says that some of the common challenges for newly remote teams include a lack of face-to-face supervision, social isolation, and lack of access to information. On that last point, the publication adds that “newly remote workers are often surprised by the added time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers.”
Technology leaders and their teams play a critical role not only in providing the infrastructure that supports new working arrangements, but also in providing the tools and resources for educating employees on best practices and helping them through the transition.
On this front, we suggest a communications plan that covers three key pillars:
1. Customer service: Increase awareness of important resources virtual or remote employees can access and the added benefits of using the available options
2. Agility: Use various forms of communication to inform virtual or remote employees about the resources available
3. Automation: Provide tips, best practices and troubleshooting via multiple channels to ensure employees have the necessary information and assistance to successfully work remotely
From our technology team, here are some tips for organizations to better support their employees’ transition to working remotely. And, get more business continuity best practices from Ceridian’s CIO Warren Perlman here.
Provide webinars through your learning portal that cover org best practices and troubleshooting. For example, when to use a VPN, technology and security guidelines, refreshes on using tech resources like video conferencing and other collaborative tools.
Provide a tip sheet or guidelines for running virtual meetings. If possible, provide company branded virtual backgrounds for video calls as many may not be comfortable turning on their video with makeshift home offices behind them.
Employ a Hypercare support concept, something we’ve done at Ceridian in situations when we’re onboarding new acquisitions. It involves making technology leaders available for an extended period (for example, a week) to answer questions in topic-specific rooms online. This model enables people to quickly get the support they need to do their jobs by getting one-on-one assistance on the spot. This is a helpful higher touch interim measure during times of transition that contributes to maintaining business continuity.
It is okay to rely on using communication tools other than email. Schedule regular team meetings using video conferencing, use your company Intranet and other message boards available to provide real-time updates, address questions, and create a greater sense of the work community.
As employees may have questions that do not usually come up for your support teams, make them aware of any changes in process or exceptions so they can support them without further frustration or confusion on either side.
Don’t fear employee surveys or other channels to collect information. A quick outreach to ask pointed questions via a tool like Microsoft Forms is effective and can provide insightful information to managers that might not otherwise come to light.
Encourage employees to use collaborative technology to share stories, funny realizations, light-hearted memes, and tips and tricks they have picked up through the transitional journey.
Read all of Ceridian’s COVID-19 communications and updates at COVID-19 Central.