Within just a couple of months of the coronavirus first emerging, more than 70 percent of employees worldwide were working from home. Even as restrictions begin to ease and offices are allowed to reopen, many businesses are making the decision to keep their employees home, either permanently or for the foreseeable future.
Even if your workforce is already operating mostly online, making the transition to remote work can be a challenge. Whether you’ve already made the move and are facing challenges or are thinking about making the remote work transition permanent, keep reading to learn how to optimize a mobile workforce.
Consider Your Current IT Capabilities
One thing that hasn’t changed as businesses make the transition to remote work is the heavy reliance on technology. But unlike being in an office space, employees are now responsible for managing new software, connecting to online meetings and managing their technology on their own. When something goes wrong, it isn’t as easy as simply stopping by your IT manager’s office or shooting them an e-mail asking them to stop by your desk. Instead, your IT department will now need to service desktops, laptops, software, and any other tools from afar.
Unless you have a small team that doesn’t rely on a lot of different tech, odds are that you’re going to need to expand your IT department to keep up with the increased demand. Streamlining the software that your team utilizes and ensuring that each employee is properly trained or has access to resources can also help to alleviate some of the issues that will pop up on a day-to-day basis. Choosing software that’s designed for a mobile workforce and its specific operation demands will streamline the transition and allow your employees to adapt with fewer issues and questions.
Find New Ways to Inspire Employee Loyalty and Commitment
Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement was at an all-time high. Yet, the number of employees who reported being enthusiastic about their work, committed to their employer, and involved in the workplace was still just 35 percent at its highest. Now, with more employees working from home and splitting their focus between work and family life even more than before, that number has likely dropped even lower.
Finding ways to encourage employee commitment and boost loyalty while your staff is working remotely can be a challenge. At this time, it’s impossible to offer many of the popular perks that employers have previously offered, like work happy hours, catered lunches, or corporate retreats. Instead, look for ways to offer moral support to your staff during these difficult times.
If you are able to, allowing flexible work hours for parents who may now have kids learning at home rather than going to school can be a great display of support. Other perks businesses can offer remote employees to boost loyalty include providing a stipend for creating a home office, hosting virtual events, or continuing to offer virtual professional development options.
Keep Communication Flowing
Television and movies focused on cutthroat offices often paint a picture of employees being afraid to speak to their bosses about even the smallest issues, but real-life studies suggest that the opposite may actually be true. In one poll, 70 percent of managers reported being uncomfortable or even scared to communicate with employees about matters big and small.
With the everyday encounters that come with working in an office now removed, keeping an open-flow of communication at all levels is more important than before. Besides communicating on projects, encourage your management staff to reach out to their teams on a daily basis about how they are adjusting to the remote work environment or challenges they may be facing. And make sure that those concerns are welcomed, passed along, and taken into account moving forward.
Plan for a New Future
While a vaccine may be on the horizon, there’s no denying that for many businesses and employees, the remote work trend is here to stay. By thinking about your IT capabilities, finding ways to encourage loyalty and keeping communication open and flowing, you can ease the transition and continue to support your employees, no matter where they are working from.