The Coronavirus pandemic has placed the world under an extensive lockdown that has probably never been witnessed on such a scale. Travel bans, regional lockdowns, etc. have compelled enterprises all over the world to either suspend operations or to direct their employees to work from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread aggressively and the World Health Organization (WHO) has directed people to adopt self-quarantine and social distancing protocols to contain the community spread of the disease. For employers, the well-being of employees and their families is the highest priority. At the same time, they need to ensure Business Continuity Planning (BCP) measures are in place to drive the business through this disruptive phase.
A key strategy is to adopt fluidic work structures for all employees that is tech-enabled to ensure communication and collaboration. This is increasingly not a matter of choice, as many cities face total lockdown, and firms have to gear up to enable their teams to work from home. Do you know what all has to be factored in to ensure your firm is work-from-home ready?
Employers, especially those with no prior practice of work from home, need to equip, train and guide their employees to help them efficiently operate remotely. There are companies that offer an allowance for the employees to set up a fully equipped home office. Remote working necessitates the availability of high-speed data access, computers/laptops, ergonomic office furniture, stationery, peripherals, power backups and cloud access, etc. In case an employee doesn’t have space for a home office, arrangements can be made at a co-working space in the vicinity of the employee’s residence.
Communication and collaborative tools are seeing an unprecedented rise in the number of users that will impact how we work for years to come. Services such as Amazon Chime, Avaya Spaces, Bluejeans, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts Meet, Lifesize, LogMeIn GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom are among the many providers that have either announced free service add-ons or extended their packages to meet the changing needs of the stay at home worker.
Most of the leading enterprises handle confidential customer information and sensitive data which might cause great damage if accessed by hackers or leaked digitally. Hence, before providing remote access to their employees, such companies need to install efficient security software, provide regular auto-updates or set up firewalls on the computers and other devices that the employees might use to access such data. It is crucial for such companies to foresee any risks and make arrangements to mitigate threats of hacking, cyber-attacks, phishing, data theft or leakage online.
Prolonged work from home can cause a lot of physical and psychological disturbances for employees who are used to working in a dynamic office environment. Over a period of time, they might not only find it difficult to focus on work, but, also start feeling lonely, unimportant and isolated. To ensure that employees remain emotionally content and connected, companies must leverage communication technology and encourage employee engagement. There are various tools like video hangouts, online meditation sessions, online gaming, conference calls and chats etc to keep the employees in the communication loop, officially and socially. There are various health and fitness apps that can monitor and motivate people to avoid sedentary lifestyles and remain in good mental health. Friendly interactions, team calls, jokes, emails, funny videos and GIFs etc can be highly instrumental in ensuring employee wellness and performance.
Providing the right equipment or guidance is only part of the challenge. Companies must also ensure dynamic cooperation among teams and team members scattered at different locations and time zones. Simply telling employees to log in at a particular hour or to attend morning conference calls is not effective enough. For businesses to thrive, it is important that the employees are able to collaborate spontaneously, exchange ideas and innovate. There has to be a robust interactive approach that combines technology and communication with wellness. Even while working remotely, employees must still feel valued, appreciated and part of the decision-making process within the organization.
The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced uncertainly and volatility into the traditional office structure. Forward-looking companies will need to implement agile, dynamic working strategies quickly to ensure they can function remotely, communicate effectively and provide the best possible working environments for their teams.