Tips for Preparing Staff to Work Remotely

Working From Home …

Many businesses, organizations, and employers in Canada are in the process of ensuring their employees/staff can work from home. This, however, means rolling out a WFH (work from home) plan to ensure any team can work as efficiently as they would from the main office.   The work from home option will help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections significantly.   Setting up a home office can be a challenge for many people. Outlined below are a few tips to help you start off on the right track.

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Have all the essential systems in place to ensure seamless communication and collaboration

Modern technology and the evolution of apps have made it possible for staff to hold video conferences and even collaborate on various tasks, remotely. Microsoft Teams and Skype are examples of tools that many workers use for video conferencing.  With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, these tools make self-isolation and social distancing possible, hence reduced risk of catching an infection. Your staff can work remotely, thanks to these communication tools, and even have face-to-face collaboration virtually. This means they can work on all the tasks assigned to them without ever putting their health at risk.

That said, ensure each member of your staff has all the required and essential communication tools for collaboration and conference calls.  Also, you’ll want to ensure everyone is well-versed with these

tools and any apps and software that will be used.

Ensure every staff member has the correct tools to facilitate working from home

Your staff will only be able to get work done if they have everything they need to do so. Ensure they have all the essentials ranging from stationary, a work computer (or laptop), extra call credit, as well as connectivity to the work servers. You can even have the employees use their personal computers to work, as long as they can access the necessary

systems and folders. You may need to consider loaning out laptops to make this possible. In addition to this, working from home means each staff member will need a stable internet connection. Check to see if they have enough bandwidth to support your systems and if it requires an upgrade (at your expense).

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Formulate a document control plan

Document control is essential/vital, especially where team members are working remotely. It helps ensure that each team member has and is working on the most up-to-date file. Although this mainly depends on your line of work, document sharing and control can be quite tricky, considering you have to let your staff access your servers remotely. You can either have the IT department prepare login credentials for the same, or use other document control systems including Microsoft Teams, Google Sheets, and Google Documents for improved collaboration. These help ensure no one deletes or saves over the other person’s work.

If this doesn’t, however, seem like a viable option, you may then be forced to create a procedure whereby all team members can check-in and share documents with other team members. Video calls will come in handy to do this.

Discuss expectations with staff members

Working from home/remotely can be challenging, especially where teamwork is required. With some of your staff quarantined with children (and other family members), it might be difficult for them to come online at certain times. This might force them to work during odd hours to be able to hit deadlines.  While this may work to the company’s advantage, working on sensitive tasks that require immediate feedback can prove to be a challenge. Setting working hour parameters to ensure all are available at some point during the day is therefore recommended.

Look for a way of ensuring all staff members provide feedback regularly while working from home. It is with regular communication that your business will remain standing during these trying times.

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Working remotely may not be an option for many, and especially those in the service industry (health, personal training, hospitality, etc.). Some may not have the needed resources to be able to work from home. Discussing all these aspects with your staff and reaching common ground, should help everyone arrive at solutions while keeping people safe from COVID-19.

Stay well, stay safe!

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