In a matter of days last month, businesses of all shapes and sizes all across the world found themselves scrambling to make the transition to remote work in the wake of COVID-19. Even for the best prepared organizations, this has been no small task. No doubt, many businesses are still grappling with the move, and may be continuing to do so for some time.
Here are some top tips on making this shift as seamless as possible, and steps you can take now to make it less painful the next time circumstances require it be done again.
1. Don’t let your security lapse
Yes, you have a lot of balls in the air right now, but it is critical that you maintain your standard IT hygiene routine. Recently, the US Secret Service issued an alert warning of fraudulent emails related to COVID-19 that contain malicious attachments. These emails mimic those sent by legitimate companies providing updates to customers on their current response to the pandemic. Stay diligent and continue monitoring for evolving phishing emails and scams and increase your frequency of communication to employees when red flags arise.
2. Be mindful of employee networking issues
Remember that in most cases, it’s likely that it’s not just a singular employee who is using an internet connection, but also the employee’s children, spouse, etc. And they all may be connecting multiple devices. This can impact the performance of the network connection more than you might think. Consider setting up additional connections for employees or advise them on how to connect and disconnect various devices when not in use. Sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to overlook, so ensure all employees have a working and reliable Internet connection.
3. Don’t overthink it
As daunting as this all seems at times, keep in mind that you only need three things to make this work. You need to have all company applications hosted in the cloud for fully remote access. You need a VPN installed on the device used for company purposes. And you need a network connection (or a device to provide a network connection). That’s it.
4. Prepare now for the next crisis
Odds are, another situation could arise that will require an immediate transition to remote work. Doing a few simple things now to prepare will pay dividends if that occurs. Make sure to keep your technology up to date, and move as many of your applications as possible to the cloud – if possible, all of them, ideally. And if you’re not already using productivity tools company-wide, start now. Using them early and often will make the shift to communicating via those tools more natural.
5. Be the best leader you can be
All the technology in the world won’t matter if your employees are unhappy and unproductive, so really focus on being the best you can be for them in this difficult time. Empathy and optimism are critical right now, and a little bit of both can go a long way. Remember that people are stressed and tired. Many employees have kids at home, and they’re pulling double duty home schooling them while trying to do their jobs. Be a great listener and look for signals for folks who might need a bit more contact.
If you’re a global company with employees in different regions of the world, remember that what’s considered normal where you are may not be normal somewhere else. In certain regions, working remotely is not a widely accepted practice. An easy transition for one culture may be difficult for another. In these cases, keeping lines of communication open is critical. It’s extra important to proactively engage the employees for whom this may be an especially difficult transition. If employees know leadership respects the difficulty of the situation, it can ease the stress.