With news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) weighing heavily on many people’s minds, I have been asked by a number of my clients about how to prepare for remote work. In fact, just yesterday a client’s building was unexpectantly closed, and they were told to pack up their belongings and leave. Before something that dramatic happens at your organization, I want to share some tips and strategies to help you be proactive in your approach to this growing health crisis.
It’s a Technical and Mental Game
Pragmatically, most people understand that technical needs will need to be met, but your organization’s “mental” needs are equally important. To successfully implement a virtual environment, you need to be aware of the unique mindset involved in managing this way. For example, not everyone has or is comfortable working from home, so it is management’s responsibility to help people become comfortable with their virtual workplace. By being prepared both technically and mentally, you can help ensure a smooth transition to virtual work.
Preparing Your Technology and Protocols
- Access to Files
- If files are in the cloud, have your team test out access from remote locations.
- If you still rely on VPN, make sure you have enough licenses, and check your bandwidth at the office to make sure it’s sufficient OR educate users that if everyone is logging into VPN at once, there will be a slow down!
- If you cannot supply your staff with laptops to take home and require that they use personal devices for work, then you should institute a temporary policy making sure that your MSP or IT department scan for viruses, malware, and up-to-date patching BEFORE connecting to your network.
- Access to Phones
- Because telephone coverage can be critical to organizations, the
following are the minimum requirements for organizations to institute during
- If your phone system allows for voicemails to also be accessed or viewed via email, then be sure to have that functionality activated, and check with all your team members to be sure that they can access/view them.
- If this service isn’t available. make sure your team knows how to access their voicemail remotely.
- Some phone systems are more sophisticated, but if your phone system has limited options, at least make sure your phones are forwarded and have a standard outgoing message.
- Because telephone coverage can be critical to organizations, the following are the minimum requirements for organizations to institute during this time:
- Access to Colleagues/Collaboration
The following are specific technical tools designed to allow for collaboration remotely. Explore if you already have them (i.e. Teams might be offered as a part of your Microsoft Office package) or institute them now:
- Microsoft Teams
- Video conferencing (Skype, Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.)
- Have something to help you connect with a colleague. Establish an “informal” a-synchronous communication channel such as Slack (there is a limited free version).
- Run a Test
- Have your team take computers home and test access.
- Don’t Get Caught Off Guard
- If you are extremely concerned, set the protocol now that laptop computers go home each night.
Preparing Your Mindset
After preparing your technology and protocols, take some time to prepare your team members for the shift in their mindset of work from office to home. The following tips can help ease the transition and increase productivity.
- Deliberately “set up a space” designated for work. Encourage your team members to find a space at home that is comfortable and quiet.
- Don’t recommend the kitchen table as a workspace, if you can avoid it. Try to create some physical separation in your workspace from your “home” space.
- Set expected work hours. Routine is important.
- If you have family home with you, set a boundary so they know when you can and cannot be interrupted.
- Don’t “sit” at your computer all day. Get up, walk around, go for a walk. Make sure to move around.
- If you are directly managing a team, establish a regular team meeting to create continuity.
For more extensive guidance, please check out our eBook which contains information regarding the use of Slack, Teams, and many more insights to help you make a successful transition to virtual work.
If you are interested in a personal consultation on transitioning to a virtual workplace or how to digitally transform your organization, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.