The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the idea of WORK as we know it: Businesses reopening with a skeleton staff accompanied by massive layoffs. In other words, the necessary work needs attending. Thus, in the search for solutions, some have to turn to remote work management protocol, a privilege that was previously only available to 7% of America’s working population before the pandemic.
Remote work sounds like an enticing solution, doesn’t it? Considering that businesses are making losses, have bills to pay, while hungry people are ready to resume work. Nevertheless, it is the managers’ mandate, being at crossroads, to provide workable solutions that deliver results.
Therefore, like all other work-related adjustments, business owners must develop a remote-work strategy. The strategy must consider your need for results alongside remote workers well being.
An assessment of your readiness and capability will aid you in developing an adaptation strategy.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
Assessment Of Remote Work Management
Any strategy begins with an assessment of the prevailing situation. A few questions will help you to develop a quality plan, helping your business or organization to take up remote work and make its management more effortless.
For some of you, you might have the following questions still:
- Can my business still run smoothly with employees working from home?
- Can I serve my clients working from home?
- What are the cost implications of allowing remote work?
- What risks will my business face when initiating remote work?
- Is my business in the industries that support remote work?
Having determined that you can operate with remote workers, it is time to get down to the planning and implementation of the remote work management strategy.
Remote working is not as easy as issuing work and asking for results. It takes more than making calls or sending emails to obtain satisfying results.
Successful remote work managers need to establish mutual relationships to reduce friction and get agreeable outcomes. Their focus must also shift from micro-management and processes to overall delivery.
It must not be lost to the managers’ successful deliverance of work needs pushing around some workers; even with supervisors keeping tabs now and then.
How do you handle such workers operating remotely with the following privileges already withdrawn?:
- walking into their offices and asking for a report
- summoning the employee to your office
- supervising the ongoing work in person.
It won’t be as simple as strolling in the park, at first. But over time and consistent practice, it will be like taking your daily meal for survival.
Let us look at the process of remote work management protocol and its use making the organization more effortless.
How To Initiate Remote Work
A manager does not wake up one day and sends work to employees. Hence, an institution must lay down the foundation for remote work.
Here are a few ideas to consider when laying this foundation:
1. Employee Consent
Invite your employees to a discussion on the possibility of working from home. Allow them to air their concerns. Make sure that you are attentive and concerned when working on a resolution. Such discussions are meaningful because it helps gauge perceptions and align them with prevailing realities.
For instance, some will complain about the presence of kids and other family members. Others will raise concerns about the use of computers and laptops in an efficient manner.
Use this opportunity to address these concerns and provide an assurance that the employees will be facilitated.
2. Customer Consent
Clients will present one of the fiercest battles when planning your remote work idea. Some are already worried about the security of their information, especially with the recent hack of the zoom application. The conventional understanding has being employees could not leave the office with company materials.
If they have to work remotely, you have to guarantee the clientele that their information will remain safe and intact. Discuss your security measures and invest in the most reliable security systems. It will be a PR nightmare if a data breach is traced back to your company while you had assured a client of adequate protection.
Clients also want assurances that projects will still run efficiently. Will the turn-around-time remain intact? What is the impact on cost?
As the manager, you have a mandate in delivering the same or better quality work without the hands-on supervision of workers.
Many would consider the remote work management option easier and less expensive. However, it is not always as it seems. For instance, you have to pay for a home-internet for your workers. Some of the laptops they use might come with restrictions. A new desk can translate to more expenses.
It will take negotiations to find a perfect balance on compensation. Therefore, bargain with employees on compensation packs when working remotely.
How much will remote work cost the company? If you are initiating the protocol because of the pandemic, will the returns cover for the cost incurred?
Remote work management will come at a cost. You have to make phone calls and install the software (or infrastructure) to allow follow-up on assignments. Failure to facilitate the remote work and management process will lead to hitches that affect overall performance.
5. Expectation Management
If everyone could work from home, then organizations and businesses could eventually avoid the costs of hiring office space. However, the truth is, some workers will promise the best results yet fail to deliver. Some see it as an opportunity to shake off their boss, who breaths on their necks from time to time.
While some of your workers will fall below expectations, others will deliver exceptionally well.
Learning to work remotely will be a process. Some of your employees will catchup faster than others. How do you assist them without making them feel as though they are failing?
In light of the current challenges, you must adjust your expectations. Address the challenges facing your workers before demanding delivery to full capacity. It shall shift the blame to the side of an employee in case targets are not met.
Tools You Need For Remote Work Management
People are easy to manage if they are stationed in one place. A boss walks to an employee’s desk to collect files or follow up on a project.
But in this case, technology will be your biggest ally.
1. Communication Protocol
The morning briefing will be replaced by calls and emails. As the manager, you must set the rules of engagement for the entire team. Agree on how to communicate, when to communicate, and on what issues your communication will take place.
For instance, regardless of the urgency of the work, an employee has a right to decline late night calls. Penalties must be introduced, dealing with the breaking of such a protocol.
Prompt communication helps to eliminate hitches and guarantee a smooth workflow. Remember to facilitate such communication through appropriate phones, airtime, internet, and any apparatus necessary.
Your workers must also be well versed in the use of the selected communication protocol.
2. Work Handling And Submission Tools
One of the most critical questions for remote work managers is how work will flow from one employee to the other or one level to the other.
For instance, the person working in the field is responsible for data submission for analysis. Salespeople have to submit invoices and receipts. Lastly, the accounting department must intervene somewhere in the processes.
Invest in technology that brings together all workers and their managers. It is like creating a small virtual office. Ultimately, It helps in eliminating conflicts whereby junior employees claim to have submitted work while seniors affirm that they have not received it. Moreover, seniors will also be stopped from victimizing their juniors because records will show.
A sound work management system makes work and people handling easier. Everyone will not be calling every other person about work. Projects will be easier to monitor without undue pressure.
Look for some of the best work management tools for remote workers and ensure smooth workflow in your business(es).
3. Collaboration Tools
An office is about collaboration as the team handles a project. For instance, members of the same department will need to meet, plan for projects, and review the results. Departments also need to collaborate to ensure the smooth running of projects.
Invest in the best and especially most collaboration tools. They could double as communication platforms where people hold meetings, share files, and view results of their work. You do not want an office where everyone is running his or her plan individually and always.
4. Results Management Tools
Offices have dashboards indicating the levels of delivery on each project. The same must be replicated during remote work. You should be able to track the turn-around-time for each project. If an organization’s management has delivered its expectation, the employee must be pushed to do the same. Therefore, the results should be precise for all to avoid accusations of underhand dealings.
Use the data from result management tools to streamline your processes. Discuss these results with your employees and demand commitment for improvement.
Risks To Expect During Remote Work Management
Remote work management is never easy. You must prepare to enjoy the benefits while still dealing with prevailing risks and delivery of desired results.
The risks are especially dangerous because you could lose your most valuable clients in the process.
Let’s look at some of the risks to expect and the best way to handle them, shall we?:
- Time Management- time in the office begins at mostly nine and ends at five. It’s easy to ascertain that the employee has reported and is working on a project. However, it will be impossible to follow every employee at home to see whether he or she is working. The best solution is to focus on the results instead of the process. You should set timelines such that you can question why workflow is lagging, yet time is gone. Further, agree on time management before each project begins. And think of it: you must recognize your remote workers for the quality of their job. Why not if they deliver and their work is up to the bar? Taking the time to boost remote employee morale by making remote employees feel heard and rewarded is crucial for successful remote work management.
- Information And Data Security- corporate organizations are becoming increasingly sensitive about customer information. The fact that you will be sharing information over third-party networks will be a subject of concern. Secure systems and work with employees to avoid unwarranted exposure of customer information.
- Miscommunication- smooth work collaboration requires seamless communication. Workers must be available for communication whenever they commit time to a project. Allow multiple communication channels like email, phone calls, and text messages to ensure that workers and supervisors can be reached conveniently at all times.
Each remote work scenario comes with its challenges. It is upon the players involved to evaluate the problems and find the best solution. Workers must understand that remote work still comes with the demand to meet targets. Managers must also appreciate the different working conditions and adjust their expectations.
The best way to make remote work management effective is planning. Evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses to find what works for you. A remote work environment requires the collaboration of all workers, just like a pleasant office environment.
Any weak link like lack of communication, inability to collaborate, or failure by management to consider remote workers well being will only result in total failure.