With the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been forced to make changes at an abrupt and bewildering pace. Many of them were not prepared technically and financially to take on these challenges, the most predominant being the overhaul of systems and processes to make them compatible for a work from home environment.
In order to more efficiently adapt to the changing tides that come with an almost 100% remote work culture, we must change how we believe a typical work period should look and proceed. We must review our system configurations, processes and workflows as these will most likely be a few that are impacted due to working from home.
- Current business processes
- Update team collaboration and communication needs with ongoing check-ins and updates
- Clarify ownership and accountability
- Standardize and centralize document updates and sharing process
- Current system configurations such as:
- Workflow steps and approval paths
- Security access points, supervisor hierarchy and chart of accounts
- Streamline and coordinate system updates
- Training and documentation needs
- Create/update remote training processes for your employees now that they are working remotely
- Update your documentation to adapt to remote working.
Your vendor management system gets a new requisition. The next step would be to assign a recruiter to the req so they may begin searching for candidates and setting up interviews. In a typical office setting, managers receive these notifications and will walk over to their recruiters to enquire about who is prepared and willing to get this process rolling.
Instead, we must now resort to phone calls, emails, and messages — all with the hopes that the recruiter’s internet and VPN connections are functioning. And there aren’t any issues with their Wi-Fi, and they’ve updated their online status if they’re not available.
Every challenge that we face now in a work from home environment was practically non-existent when most of us were in a shared office. Problems that were easily fixed before becoming exacerbated. Therefore, we need to find solutions for our workers that ensures any lags that may exist are easily dealt with and the transition is dealt with ease.
When a group of recruiters receives that requisition, with the assignment given on a first come, first serve basis, there can often be outside obstacles in a work from home environment that get in the way of a response. Say Sally replies to the group that she would like to be assigned to the position, but Joe has communicated to his manager privately that he believes the job should be his. Their manager must then choose which recruiter should get the requisition, even though they have both begun work on finding placements.
In this instance, there must be flexibility on both the recruiter’s side and on managements side. Through written word and multiple forms of communication, people tend to take things out of context, with situations that are handled very quickly in person oftentimes turning into a conflict that can take all morning or afternoon to handle. Text on screen tend to not easily convey tone and intention which makes it easier to be misunderstood or taken the wrong way.
Express to your team that while this transition will take a while to get used to, things will eventually regulate. In the meantime, it’s imperative that mistakes are forgiven, and conflicts are squashed quickly.
Working from home brings with it the need to communicate more consistently and frequently with your team. Make sure to update your status on Teams (group chat/collaboration app) and your email calendars so coworkers and clients are aware when you’re not available. It’s more important than ever to be responsible with your time, especially since people don’t have the ability to see you in person.
Communicating when you’re unavailable is especially significant. Since you’re not in the office, if you disappear, your team doesn’t know that you’re on lunch, stepped away from your desk or running an errand. In dire situations like the one we’re currently going through, when people are expected to stay quarantined to their homes, there’s even less of a reason to not be around during the workday. Be accountable for updating people where you need to step away, so your team doesn’t have to use multiple means of communication to get ahold of you or clients escalate trying to get a response.
Maintain Your Productivity
For those just starting out in the remote environment, they have a tendency to work longer when at home, overcompensating for the fact that since they’re sitting on their couches or in sweat clothes instead of slacks, it feels as though they’re not being as productive.
Over the years I have honed the balancing act of working remote. That means when I’m in work mode, I must be just as present and focused at home as I would be in the office – more so since I need to plan my time so carefully. For me to be available for those who need it, I do my best to be accountable for every second that I’m on the clock.
I also make sure that I’m 100 percent productive during the time that I’ve allocated for work. You don’t need to over-compensate by working 12 hours just because you feel like, somehow, you’re not working to the best of your ability due to your new work environment. However, try to manage interruptions and distractions by enforcing your work schedule and create a consistent work environment.
There are so many benefits to working from home. Even after this pandemic is over and people can go back to their offices, remote work is going to be more prevalent than it used to be. Right now, employees are being forced into remote work and corporations are having to pay for the implementation of all the technologies that make it possible. When today’s stresses are lifted, so many companies will realize the benefits of making this a permanent switch.
I’ve been working mostly remote since home internet connection was 56k modem dialup and high-speed internet was ISDN or T1 for businesses. Google was barely a search engine back then. You’re probably thinking the next thing I am going to say is: “Oh and I walked barefoot in the snow”. No, I had Gortex lined boots back then.
Anyway, let’s clear up another blind spot. This is not a sales pitch. This is me offering to help with potential blind spots you might have and how to correct them. We all could use someone to talk to once in a while. “What? I can’t hear you. I had you on mute”. Seriously though, please do not hesitate to reach out.