Dinah is a Managing Partner at a busy recruiting firm in the city. For a long time, her managers and associates have been requesting her to allow them to work remotely. She has been adamant that all employees clock into the office every morning and out at their contracted working hours. In 2020, any goal-oriented manager worth their salt would have much to say to Dinah, but they didn’t have to.
Then along came COVID- 19. Organizations have been forced to put their agility skills to work, fully. With restrictions on movement, Dinah was floored. Having her employees coming into the office every day was not an option but work had to be done. All of a sudden, all her employees are working from home and surprise, work is getting done!
Dinah is not alone, hundreds of organizations have had to shut down their physical offices and move their offices to their employees’ homes. For most who had earlier adopted the practice, it has been smooth sailing with minimal to no disruptions. Others have quickly adapted and quickly integrated remote working as a functional aspect. Others have been slow in adapting, resistant even, but are gradually being forced in that direction by circumstance.
Role of the Employer in Remote Working.
The employer has a huge responsibility in ensuring business continuity when employees are working remotely. Managers and Supervisors, where there is a lack of direct interactions may be anxious that not enough work is being done. However, it must come out that results are the scorecard of what is being achieved.
- Remote Working Policy.
If your organization is going in this direction, then you need to put in place a Remote Working Policy guiding this so that employees are bound and guided. The policy will indicate which positions and departments are eligible for remote working. Confidentiality and security of company information while working remotely is also a major aspect to be outlined. It will also include levels of support to be given by the organization, communication with managers and supervisors, and measures of productivity during this period.
- Set Targets and Work Objectives.
Most employers, like Dinah, are not in agreement that only results should be managed and not the employees. Having employees sitting at their desks all day does not guarantee productivity and great results. Even in remote working, employees must have SMART goals set in consultation and agreement with their Managers.
- Rules of Engagement
How often do you need the employees to check in or send in their progress reports? Do you need to have online sessions regularly? Do you need them to be available on their mobiles at specific times? Do you need them to come into the office on specific days or for specific activities?
These will be laid down in agreement with the Managers and line with the company’s Remote Working Policy. They should not be intrusive or bordering micromanagement or punishment for employees for working at home. Non- working hours shall be respected.
For organizations that are just getting into the remote working space, some level of training may be required. If the company will need to integrate new tech into the business, like an ERP System, then both employees and managers will need to be trained.
This will help save time when the work begins. For new employees, an even more vigorous on-boarding will be required. Also, train employees on how to maintain high discipline levels in working remotely, how to create comfortable working environments, how to ensure minimal disruption, and how to put their minds in the right space especially when working from home.
Within the few weeks that Dinah’s employees have been working from the comfort of their homes, she has been highly impressed with the levels of commitment and dedication her staff have shown. There have been zero disruptions on their work and she, in turn, is fully supporting them in their bid to keep the company running. Sitting in the office whiling away useful man-hours is a thing of the past.
Remember that for remote working to be executed seamlessly, the employer must fully be supportive of employees. Proper equipment should be provided, the right technology and if not available, a proper working station. It could also be an emotional disconnect for employees forced to work from home and yet, they love the social aspect of being in the office with colleagues.
Provide enough support for these employees too and create near social online activities to cater to them.
Despite the nature of your business, all managers must constantly be reminded that this is the future of work and start moving your business to the cloud, in preparation for the next wave of disruption. It will either fully move you into that space or push you right out of business.