Flashback to January of this year: Chances are, if you didn’t already have a formal set of policies and procedures that would let your team work from home, you at least had it on your radar, and you planned to nail it all down eventually. You have a lot on your plate, and, as recently as January, it just didn’t seem like a priority, right?
Then, literally overnight, those of us who could, went home, and the people that need to keep things running, like friends in IT and HR, had to catch up. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that we have a lot of great tips that can move your business closer to deploying a mobile workforce that will save you money and build healthy, happy teams.
1. Set up and test the laptops (and any other tech) onsite first to make sure that things like your VPN and other vital programs work the way they should. Sure, your IT can troubleshoot and do some setup on the fly, but why not save everyone some extra frustration if you can?
2. You might already be keeping an inventory of the tech people are using inside the office (if you’re not, you should) now update that list to show the devices that have gone offsite with your team.
3. Speaking of frustration: make sure your firewall has enough bandwidth to support your team all logging into the VPN at once. Working from home should keep projects rolling forward, not cause delays when your firewall can’t handle the strain.
4. It’s easy to take speedy internet for granted, but does your team have enough speed or internet service at all, for that matter, to let them get to your VPN and do their jobs? If not, you may need to set them up with hotspots or reimburse them for internet service.
5. Consider offering a “technology stipend” to help your team set up a comfortable and productive home office. Investing in small improvements like a better office chair or a desk lamp will pay off with a happier, healthier, more efficient teammate.
6. If your team isn’t already using video conference tools like Zoom, Webex, or Microsoft Teams, take time to get them acquainted with the program of your choice and give them plenty of practice to get them comfortable.
7. Your team will feel better and be more productive with a secure, quiet, and dedicated home workspace if they can have one. That extra solitude will also help them keep your organization’s information safe and secure.
8. Be vigilant and tell your team to do the same. Remind them to be especially wary of email “phishing” and other scams meant to break into your email network. If they do click on suspect emails or open attachments from unknown people, tell them to report it right away so IT can respond ASAP.
9. Establish a process for handling the requests to your offsite teammates, whether it’s a routing requests through a single point of contact in the department or using technology to handle “helpdesk” requests. Make sure they’re logged when they come in, properly documented, and then closed out when they’re done to keep everyone on the same page.
10. More physical distance can complicate getting in touch in an emergency. Plan multiple channels of communication including having personal cell or landline numbers available so the team can reach you.
11. Create (and follow) a team standard of keeping calendars up to date. Stepping away from your laptop for a while to decompress? Going for a walk outside? Put “break”, “lunch”, “thinking time”, etc. on your calendar both to remind you to do it and let others know when to give you some time and space.
12. Make sure everyone feels comfortable and well prepared to stay in touch virtually. While some of us are well suited to those quick distance check-ins, others might be struggling without the opportunity to drop in for a face-to-face chat.
13. Put a little extra emphasis on setting and meeting deadlines. Major changes in your work routine and distance from your team can make it easier for things to slip through the cracks.
14. Pay attention and find ways to support your team’s mental state. Check-in more often, be honest about your own anxiety and stress, offer helpful coping tips, and be available to talk about life stress if your teammates reach out for help.
15. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Set a plan for regular communication out your team, including face-to-face, if possible, and make sure your virtual door is open for their feedback too.
About the Author: The Exclamation Team is a group of multi-talented, multi-discipline, multi-tasking experts in HR, IT, Marketing, and Operations. When they’re not focused on helping one of their credit union or business clients take things to the next level, they’re creating something new and cool to share with the world. You can follow the Exclamation Team on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.