Before the coronavirus, very few people worked from home, with only seven percent of the private workforce able to do so. But today, more and more companies are developing ways for employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic passes. The real challenge, however, will be ensuring employees understand new workflows and have the necessary support from management to successfully work remotely.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Even before the recent relaxing of state guidelines, medical and scientific experts predicted that the US would see a spike in cases in the fall, complicated by the return of the flu season. That means before we are able to return to our offices, where management traditionally keeps a close eye on employees, managers need to implement policies now that support their employees’ new reality of working near where they sleep.
The good news is there are several ways to make sure employees remain as productive as possible. One of the best ways to ensure consistency and continuity, in good times or bad, is to have a dynamic employee handbook. These handbooks should serve as guides on how the company functions, including details like what clients expect and individual roles in delivering the products or services. Handbooks can include previously completed work, which means listing successes, noting any ongoing projects in need of improvement, recording ideas that were previously rejected, and keeping track of failures so that they are not repeated! Living handbooks are easy to maintain with digital versions that don’t have to be printed and updates are made instantly and noted for future records. A well-designed handbook, along with other visualized workflows, increases employee work output which keeps clients happy so they continue to realize the important role you play in helping them succeed.
Marketers already use engaging videos as sales tools, but in the new work from home realm this medium will become the go-to way to train current workers on new programs or initiatives. Managers cannot afford to wait until the return of “business as usual” because not only do we not know when that return is, but also your employees aren’t used to working from home. Since managers remain responsible for their employees’ work whether it is produced in the office or at home, you have to make sure employees can access the information and resources they need to succeed. Producing authentic, visually engaging videos is a proven method to streamline the change in processes you normally would do in person (which saves the company money), increasing retention, and improving consistency.
While we are all at home, there are also several programs you can use to make sure everyone continues to be held accountable for their work, like Teams, Slack, Jira, and Monday. Using these tools is effective for two reasons: 1) No one can hide. Monitor participation in chats to see who contributes to group projects and who does not. 2) Quality control. Review work products so you can maintain consistency and standards. You might not be able to drop by your employee’s desk to check on them, but with the right tools you will be able to determine if they are giving their best efforts.
As always, one-on-one conversations offer the best insights on how your employees are doing. Take a half-hour to speak to them over video conferences regularly, whether that’s weekly or monthly. Make sure they understand their individual responsibilities, correct any mistakes, or simply brainstorm about any ideas they may have, which is one of the most effective ways you can engage your staff to keep their brains energized and focused.
With remote work being the new norm for the foreseeable future, it is more important than ever to engage employees as much as possible. Don’t just make sure employees do their work, but also make sure they feel like a valued part of the team. These simple steps go a long way to keep businesses running as smoothly as possible in these unpredictable times.