Before the unforeseen worldwide pandemic, only 5.2 percent of total employees in the US were working remotely. 43 percent of them worked from home only some of the time. However, with the Coronavirus situation making it impossible for people to work in closed spaces, most companies have been forced to go remote.
A study had already predicted remote work becoming the new norm by 2025, so we are essentially five years early. Everything happened so suddenly that most SMBs were just not ready for this massive shift to remote work in such a short span of time.
Remote work in the middle of a global health crisis is incredibly challenging, even for work from home veterans who have been doing this for years. People are constantly scrambling to manage kids, pets, and home chores. For people who are working from home for the first time, this can become almost impossible if they are not armed with the right tools.
Even if the current pandemic gets resolved sooner than predicted, businesses still need a plan to embrace remote work. They need to make it an essential part of their workforce.
Embracing remote work: One step at a time
Remote working is the perfect example of business transformation that needs to be implemented on multiple levels of the organization. The remote work strategy of your company should be able to serve the needs of employees by providing them all the necessary tools and offer them adaptive and resilient ways to work together in a seamless manner.
The remote work strategy should clearly provide specifics about how employees can collaborate, communicate, and manage their everyday work.
Here are the three stages of moving to remote work:
1. Early stage remote work
At the early stage of remote work, you essentially use the same tools that you used in your office and try to take things one day at a time with constant emails and calls.
While it might seem to work for the first few days, it can soon become difficult to track all the emails and find all the tasks and their respective deadlines that are assigned to different team members. As a result, your employees might end up spending more time finding their work details and less time actually performing their work which can lead to decreased efficiency.
Moreover, with no way to track information, department heads have to constantly call and email their team members, even outside of work hours, which can cause additional stress for employees.
2. Middle stage of remote work
In this stage, you should start searching for applications that can help your employees manage work in a better way. You can introduce different applications for project management, process management, and collaboration.
But the problems arise at this stage when you use applications with overlapping functionalities. For instance, the project management application might also have a comments section and chatting feature. So, if employees have a question about a particular task, should they directly ask about it in the project management app or should they use the separate chatting application?
Without no clear specifications about which application to use for which purpose, there can be increased confusion between the employees, which can make it difficult for them to work together remotely. Also, employees have to constantly toggle between different applications which decreases productivity and efficiency.
3. Advanced stage of remote work
This is the stage where you should have the ideal digital strategy in place for remote working. You should replace all the disparate applications with a single digital workplace platform that can help you access all the business data and tools from one place.
The biggest advantage of using a single platform instead of the average 16 SaaS apps is that you are able to simplify everything for your employees. This doesn’t just lead to less training time and less complicated user manuals, but it also helps your employees worry less about the tools at work and focus more on their actual work.
The digital workplace that you implement in your organization should be able to:
- Streamline and automate business processes
- Communicate with other team members easily
- Track the progress of every task or project
- Automate approvals from the different departments
- Robust ticketing and case management
At this stage, your only concern should be to train employees in the right way so that they can leverage the power of the digital workplace to its fullest extent.
It is also important to note that digital workplaces aren’t just made for remote teams. The idea behind digital workplaces is that your team should be able to work seamlessly without any productivity or efficiency issues, whether they are working from home or from their office.
Start preparing for the future
Even without the current pandemic, remote work was set to become a norm for companies in the coming years. The COVID-19 health crisis has only forced the organizations around the world to embrace this change sooner than it was needed.
However, the transition doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to implement a great remote work strategy. Plan for the future and use tools intelligently to make a great change.