Most of the American workforce is facing a new normal: work from home. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, statistics showed that only 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) were working from home half-time or more [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 American Community Service (ACS) data]. As employees and companies adjust to temporary regulations due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the majority of the workforce is finding themselves working from home. As they settle into this new routine, many companies are quickly realizing that they don’t have the right tools in place for employees to be successful. Luckily, work-from-home technology development has far outpaced its real world use. Right now, the single best thing for every person who is forced to work differently is to take the initiative to use the great technology that is available. If given the right tools, your employees can become empowered like never before and continue to add value in driving your business forward.
Below are some ideas that managers and executives should consider that will help your newly positioned work-from-home employees feel energized and connected.
Have your team set up its workspace
- Suggest picking a good spot with minimal distractions. This may be difficult with kids at home but reassure your employees that everyone understands that the situation is out of the norm. And if little ones do happen to interrupt or poke their head into the middle of a meeting, acknowledge them with a friendly "hello and welcome, little person!” Show compassion for interruptions or distractions. These are unusual times for everyone.
Ask your team to communicate early and often
- People are likely balancing several things. Ask your team to communicate personal schedules and times when employees may be unavailable. You may not be aware of everything people are trying to balance and encouraging them to get things done when they can goes a long way. Chances are that they are likely being more productive than the average worker is on a normal day at the office amid chitchat.
The daily grind, but from home
Turn the Internet to 11
- Thank Goodness for Internet (TGFI)! Today, the internet gives us the power to do so many things that we used to never be able to do remotely. But with that power comes great responsibility; ensuring your remote employees can access company data with little to no latency. One quick way to be responsible about this issue is to increase your company-wide bandwidth. (If you happen to be in an Involta data center, this can be done in mere hours.) For the work-from-home employees who are using their own internet, and likely sharing bandwidth with others in the house, carriers have removed “caps” from most home internet packages. Encourage your team to call or research this so they don’t get a “surprise” bill at the end of the month.
Embrace online meetings
- There are several collaboration tools available for both business and personal use. One of Involta’s favorites is Microsoft Teams (part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite). If your company currently uses Teams for meetings with remote offices, work-from-home employees can join the same meetings easily as long as they have an internet connection in their home. If you have never used Microsoft Teams before, there is no better time than now to try it out. There are lots of “How To” videos online to help employees learn the ins and outs of the software. If you need help setting it up, call an expert like Involta. We provide a quick-start offering to help businesses get up and running.
No laptop, no worries
- Does your team work from workstations or desktops when they are in the office? While laptops have become the more popular option for businesses today, there are still many organizations that don’t have a quick and easy remote solution. If your company still has groups of employees that lack the ability to be mobile with their desktop, consider investing in Virtual Desktop (VDI). VDI gives companies the power to deliver workstation performance and capabilities through a Web or SaaS-based delivery model. Amazon is a leader in the VDI space with its AWS Workspaces Businesses are using this technology to let their remote IT workforces deliver a full-suite business application to the end user. The desktops can be accessed from a web browser, a home PC, an inexpensive thin client, Chromebook or even a tablet. And they are very easy to get up and running for businesses that partner with Involta. If you’re looking for some help or to understand more about VDI and how it makes working from home feel more like “working from the office”, Contact Us.
Keep the Band Together
The Virtual Watercooler
- A favorite part of working in the office is catching up with friends and colleagues. Just because your team members are all sitting in their home offices, does not mean the interpersonal communication has to stop. Create a five-minute Microsoft Teams meeting for office teams. Keep the discussion casual and take a screenshot of the interaction to show off to others. You may even find out something unique about a coworker based on their home office environment. These quick morning or afternoon meetings are a great way to get energized or take a break during the day.
- Not being in close proximity to co-workers forces everyone to consciously set aside time to connect. It’s important for employees to still feel like they belong to their work life and those bonding moments that used to happen in the lunchroom are still occurring. It's a really great time for small group work and team check ins - - all of which can be done via video conference and IM. You can use Teams to encourage fun activities and challenges to maintain morale and help your team stay positive, engaged, and energized.