Sweatpants are all the rage these days. Brands like Aeropostale have seen a 23% uptick in women's sweatpants while Russell Athletic has reported a double-digit surge in sweatpant style searches. We know that the coronavirus started this trend. Could it continue even after the crisis? We're not sure we are ready for that.
Even before COVID-19 began upending people's lives and forcing companies around the world to put business continuity plans into action and widespread work-from-home policies, working remotely was a trend that was gaining speed. While it is not easy to shift many employees to remote access, there are definitely ways to smooth the disruptions. So today, we provide you with some tips as you expand your remote work practices.
Ensure you have a robust telecommuting policy. Ideally, this policy should be reviewed with employees before they start working remotely. However, if that is not possible, at least ensure that they review it and sign off on the conditions ASAP. Elements that should be covered include: the appropriate IT procedures (VPN etc.), approved equipment usage, current contacts for trouble-shooting issues, among others.
Provide the necessary tools. It is likely that your employees have the essentials already, such as internet and phone access. But, adding something like videoconferencing could assist with collaboration and make remote teamwork fairly easy. You will also want to make sure that your offsite employees have approved hardware and software so that there are no security issues.
Increase the frequency of interactions. Since you are not able to see your employees, it is important to check in often. You don't want deadlines to get pushed or even missed due to the lack of physical presence. Online software programs could help with this too, so you may want to check some of those out.
Schedule conference calls to minimize distractions. If possible, schedule important calls over?? coffee but before the rest of the family is up or at other off-peak times. As families are adjusting to shelter-in-place or other stay-at-home measures, this could help to minimize distractions and allow people to focus.
Keep communication open. Ask how your employees are doing, and if they need any additional support so that they know they can rely on you for any extra assistance. You will also want to do a check on how they are feeling, both physically and emotionally, to make sure they aren't feeling overwhelmed or stressed, which can lead to illness.
Try virtual get-togethers. In the absence of opportunities for colleagues to interact socially the way they would at the office, video conferencing can be used to make up for those lost social interactions, such as virtual happy hours or coffee breaks. Your staff will likely appreciate being connected in that way again.
Since we don't know when this crisis will end, we hope that these tips help ease some of the difficulties in having a greater number of employees work remotely. Stay safe and stay connected!