The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive for Americans in a number of different ways. Perhaps one of the most prominent ways in which it has been disruptive, however, is in its displacement of the workforce. While many have been able to keep their jobs, they’ve been forced to work remotely rather than working within their standard office settings. Transitioning to a remote workforce offers a lot of benefits, to the point that many businesses may make their transitions permanent to reduce costs and promote productivity.
With that being said, for employees who have been working in a standard office setting their entire lives, adjusting to remote work can be a little intimidating. It’s important that employees feel supported by their employers during this adjustment period. Below are some of the ways in which the transition into remote work can be supported and eased by upper management.
1. Provide Equipment
It’s crucial that the remote workforce isn’t working off of their own personal hardware. While employees may have their own computers, they need to be provided with personal work computers in order to work securely and efficiently. This way, employers can be sure that employees are all on a level playing field, with the same types of technology. They can install standard security software in order to ensure that company information is safe. Furthermore, employees won’t be forced to place unnecessary stress or download work-related software on their own personal computers. Aside from computers, employers should consider providing headsets, microphones, and perhaps printers depending on how many hard copies the company may require employees to make.
2. Invest In IT
In a standard office setting, employees can turn to professional onsite IT services whenever they have issues with their hardware. The problem when relying on a remote workforce, of course, is that those issues don’t simply go away. When employees can’t access IT services easily, this can cause hangups in productivity, as well as frustrations. Rather than training employees to resolve smaller problems on their own, employers should invest in remote IT services that employees can access with a quick phone call or email. This is no different or less valuable than investing in standard IT services; in 2020 alone, $925 billion will be spent on IT services worldwide. Management should ensure that employees have access to professional IT services no matter where they are.
3. Hold Regular Team Meetings
Transitioning to a remote workforce is especially difficult for employees because many of them are used to being able to ask questions and consult with their coworkers or managers with ease. Therefore, it’s important that remote workforce support isn’t just about giving IT help, but maintaining a team environment and community as well. This can be done through regular team meetings, ideally with video conferencing technology. Managers should provide regular question and answer sessions in the beginning to ensure that employees feel as if they can troubleshoot any problems they may be having. Team building can be supported through instant messaging technology and the encouragement of company emails. The goal is to encourage an open door policy, even when employees aren’t actually in a traditional office.
4. Utilize Virtual Office Training
There are a lot of benefits, as mentioned above, to remote work. But it’s important to work with technology consulting firms to ensure that virtual offices are utilized for long term success. It’s not enough to provide hardware and let employees return to their traditional roles without preparation. As they are provided with new virtual office software, employees should be made to feel that they’ve been completely supported and prepared. Employers should offer, or even insist on, remote trainings to ensure that employees know how to take full advantage of their virtual offices.
It’s crucial to ensure that employees don’t feel as if they are being abandoned when they begin working remotely. When you’ve grown used to working one way for most of your life, finding the advantages of working in another manner can be difficult. However, working remotely is about more than keeping employees physically safe for the short term. It can improve productivity and comfort and cut costs for the long term. As long as employees are supported during the transition, they will succeed.