Remote work has been on the rise for years now, but concerns regarding the coronavirus have sharply accelerated this trend, forcing many companies and employees to test their capabilities for telecommute work environments. Workers in China, Italy, Japan, and South Korea have been working from home en masse, and recently companies in the United States have been following suit: Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Square, and other organizations in affected areas have asked employees to work from home if possible. The need to quickly adapt to remote work conditions is revealing many organizations’ limitations, as well as raising questions about how best to support workers who rely on in-person activities for hourly pay—employees in industries like retail, food service, hospitality, etc.
Even if you live in an area that has not yet been majorly affected by the spread of COVID-19, preparing now for the possibility of shifting to remote work is a good idea. Here are a few things you can do to ease this transition:
- Bring your work laptop and other crucial resources home every night, unless you can use a VPN to access your work computer—in which case, make sure that you’ve fully tested this capability and are prepared to use it. If there are other non-electronic resources you might need, bring those home at night too. Determine what items you couldn’t do your job without if you suddenly could not return to the office.
- Download Zoom or another video conferencing technology, and familiarize yourself with it. Work with your team to determine the technology that best suits your needs, and have everyone download and test out the same program. If your team is forced to cancel in-person meetings, scheduling video calls will help everyone remain connected and organized. Especially for those employees who thrive on the social aspects of traditional work environments, scheduling regular video calls will be essential.
- Prioritize assignments and tasks that require unmovable company resources. If you’re working on a project that requires materials housed at your worksite that cannot be moved, try to complete it now, if possible. Move tasks that can more easily be completed at home further down the priority list.
- Create a solid game plan with your team of what the workday would look like with team members working from home. A formal operational plan with agreements in place about scheduling/availability expectations, methods of communication, ways to complete tasks and attend to responsibilities, etc., will keep everything moving as seamlessly as possible.
If you consider now what the reality of remote work would look like for your team, you won’t be caught scrambling for resources and work options in the event that you have to telecommute. Instead, you’ll be well equipped to handle the transition—and who knows, you may even find that the benefits of remote work boost your team to new levels!