How to manage a remote workforce during the coronavirus outbreak

Author
Dakota Murphey
Business Growth Consultant
17th April 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has had catastrophic effects right the way across the world, with many small and local businesses feeling the impact of governmental decisions and media hysteria.

Those decisions have led to businesses losing many customers, clients and, therefore, profit. This has, in turn, caused employers to become increasingly concerned about how to safeguard their companies – keeping on top of tax and insurance issues, asking for business advice from specialist lawyers, and understanding how to manage their now-remote workforce.

If you are one of those companies who are concerned about how your business will cope moving towards a remote working environment, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. By following the four tips we have outlined below, you can ensure your workers stay productive throughout the outbreak – and beyond. 

1. Set up a remote leadership team

One of the first things you need to do when moving towards remote working is to establish your remote leadership team. This will need to include dedicated members of staff who can help guide others through the period of transition.

Certain employees on your team may have more experience in remote working than you do and, because of that, will have a better understanding of the correct tools, software and systems to use. Make sure to listen to their ideas and utilise their expertise in order to manage your staff in the right way. 

2. Create your communication plan

When you think about the office space, many employees will have an area where they can relax and have a quick, informal chat with their colleagues over a cup of tea, and another area where they can discuss more pressing work issues.

When it comes to working from home, it’s important to set up communication channels that reflect this ideology – providing your staff with an avenue to chat with colleagues both formally and informally.

Utilising tools like email, Slack, Zoom, Skype or Whereby, it can be super quick and easy to set up remote workspaces where employees can freely discuss whatever’s on their mind – whether that be a Netflix recommendation or client update.

“It is important to have in place a business continuity plan that is communicated to all stakeholders and that is being reviewed on an ongoing basis to meet the challenging circumstances posed by this Coronavirus.” (George Ide)

3. Think about your tools

While on the subject of remote working tools, it’s important to remember that less is more. Don’t overload your staff with a whole host of new processes and systems to remember – you need to make the transition as easy as possible for them.

From a starting standpoint, you should use tools and software where staff can easily share documents with one another and communicate effectively. Google Docs and Slack are two of the most commonly used tools by remote working teams globally since they make it easy to work online and keep data secure.

One other thing you’ll need to think about setting up is a VPN. This will enable your staff members to access your server remotely from wherever they are in the world, meaning they’ll be able to get hold of important company documents while they’re away from the office. 

4. Embrace the change

Humans do not like change, especially when it’s out of our own control. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, businesses are being effectively forced to change the way they work in order to survive; something which inevitably brings with it a natural resistance.

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your company’s transition to remote working is successful comes through embracing this change – something that is especially important in companies known for having a strong ‘in-office’ culture.

Employers need to recognise that remote working is a process rather than a problem which, when carried out in the right way, can actually lead to potentially greater results

Final thoughts...

The world of work has changed substantially in the past few weeks, and several companies now have no choice but to navigate the challenge of moving towards remote working. While this may all seem new and scary, many companies already successfully operate on a remote working basis, so it definitely can be done.

In fact, if anything, remote working was always the way the workplace would eventually go, representing the future of work. Now, however, due to the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus outbreak, that future is here much sooner than many anticipated. 

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