Working from Home: A Guide for Small Businesses from APG Federal Credit Union
September 16, 2021
Almost overnight, entire companies began working remotely as a result of the recent public health emergency. And for those that had not yet ventured into the working-from-home space, juggling the economic uncertainty of the pandemic while establishing a protocol to help employees navigate this time may have felt overwhelming. The Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-guide-to-managing-your-newly-remote-workers reported that the most common challenges employees face when working remotely include:
· Minimal face-to-face supervision
· Less access to information
· Social isolation
· At-home distractions
However, this “new normal” can be leveraged to benefit businesses. Small business owners have found that employee availability is 19% higher since working remotely and 57% of businesses reported they would continue remote working long-term.https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/05/remote-work-after-pandemic-survey.html
Follow these tips to address employee concerns, streamline your business through the pandemic and keep your virtual doors open, even if your physical doors may be closed.
Establish a Plan
Kick off your working-from-home endeavor by developing expectations on remote working procedures, then communicating them to your team. Lay out clear boundaries, including a schedule for the workday, delivery timelines and project priorities so everyone is on the same page and understands what they are supposed to be doing and how to do it. Make sure your plan addresses the common employee concerns above and provides a point of contact that employees can reach out to with an issue.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Remote working eliminates the ability to pop over to your co-worker’s desk to ask them a question or verify what they meant in an email. As the period of working from home grows, so does the need to communicate through various channels including instant messaging, video calls, video conferencing and conference calls. Remember that interpretation and intention of messages can become muddled over email, so try to communicate via video or phone call. Remember it is usually better to over-communicate than under-communicate.
With working from home, your management style is forced to adjust. Since you are unable to actively see that your employees are working and completing their tasks, having regular video or phone meetings to catch up on their progress is essential. Consider implementing a video chat every morning to kick off the day, chat with your team and set priorities.
Participation has also shifted from speaking up in a meeting to promptly replying to an email thread. Timely replies assure your employees and team that you are engaged and available if a concern arises, and interested in their dedication to operations.
Remote workers are facing a new set of distractions and interruptions. Whether a leaf-blower is running in the yard, your furry friend thinks you being home means time for play or your child needs extra attention, it can be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand. Being aware of these realities is important. Keep in mind everyone is doing their best to navigate these unprecedented times and remind your team it is okay to take a moment to deal with their given environment.
Opt for Productivity
Technology is key to working remotely – and technology that works for your business is even more important. Upgrade essential platforms to streamline communications and operations. Likely the most important facet of working from home is the way your team communicates. Make sure your email, chat and conferencing tools are up-to-date and working for all users. Leveraging the right technology can help you keep your team on track, accountable and productive.
Prioritize Employee Wellness
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The physical and mental health of your team is crucial to the success of your business. Provide your employees with resources to stay fit, happy and productive. This can include information on ergonomics, urging them to take breaks to get up from their desks, stretch, walk around, practice healthy habits and get enough sleep. You can also strengthen intracompany relations by arranging virtual birthday and holiday celebrations or television and movie viewing parties. We are all doing our best to get through this time, together.