The past year and a half has seen businesses of all shapes and sizes, operating in all sorts of fields, undergoing a whole lot of change. The coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic – and the rules implemented by the government to slow the spread of the virus – have forced into working in different ways that don’t require our staff to come into direct contact with one another. For many businesses, this has meant switching to a remote workforce. As vaccines are being rolled out around the world, and as things seem to slowly be getting back to normal, many of us are beginning to question what lies ahead for our business. Do we get back to the office? Do we stay remote? Here are a few pieces of information that could help you to make the right decision for you, your business and your employees.
Decide Whether You’re Staying Remote or Heading Back to the Office
Now that life is slowly getting back to normal, you’re going to have to make the decision as to whether to bring your staff back into the office space or whether to leave them working from home on a remote basis. Both options have their perks and drawbacks. When you have staff in your office, you can keep an eye on them, ensuring that they work and allowing meetings and presentations to be carried out more easily. It’s also good for team building and bonding. However, remote workforces can be equally productive and a lot cheaper. Why? Well, when your staff work from home, you don’t have to fork out for commercial premises rent, electricity, gas and other overheads. You may also want to survey your staff to determine what approach they’d prefer. This can help to inform your decision.
Sticking With Remote Working
If you decide that remote working is working well for you and your staff, and decide to stick with this working mode, you need to make sure that you constantly help your staff to perform well, supporting them at all times. It can often feel difficult to manage staff who are working from home, but the following steps should help you to achieve this well.
Be Flexible and Compassionate
The first thing that you need to bear in mind when managing a remote team during these difficult times is the sheer importance of sympathy and compassion. All too many employers are skeptical of their staff, showing concern that they may not be working as hard from home as they would when being watched in the office. At the end of the day, you should trust your staff enough to rest assured that they are working as they should be and micromanagement will only drive good staff members away. You will be able to see how staff are performing with KPIs and if staff are clearly underperforming should you consider reaching out and checking how they are getting on. Remember that times are hard too. Your staff may be trying their best, but bear in mind that many people are losing loved ones, falling ill themselves or facing other issues. Their partners or family may have been made redundant or unemployed. They may be struggling financially. They may be struggling with childcare and schooling. Show some compassion and don’t jump to conclusions that people are merely being lazy if issues are arising. Offer support where possible – with stress, anxiety and other issues. Try to be lenient. If someone needs more flexible working hours, granting them could boost their productivity and benefit everyone!
Set KPIs and Goals
When managing remote staff, KPIs and goals become extremely important. Not only do they allow you to keep on top of your staff members’ performance, but they also give your staff a sense of direction, ensuring that they know what they are doing and that they have a clear vision of what is expected of them. If you’re not familiar with KPIs, “KPI” stands for “key performance indicator”. Make sure that any KPIs or goals you set are realistic. Some bosses set them excessively high to push staff to their limit but this doesn’t often pay off. Staff tend to be much more satisfied when you set reasonable goals that they can achieve and feel satisfaction from.
Invest in Cybersecurity
Of course, working remotely is quite different to working from the office. Your staff are likely to be using their own internet connections which may not be quite as secure as those you could provide in an office. This is where cybersecurity systems and cybersecurity training can come into play. Cybersecurity should have always featured on your list of priorities, but now, more than ever, it’s becoming an absolute essential. Cybercriminals are aware that businesses are vulnerable as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic and increased numbers of remote workers. They want to take advantage of unsecured networks and staff without direct supervision from managers and other authority figures. Some changes that you might like to implement to avoid cyber attack include:
- VPNs and Firewalls – when your employees work from home, they may automatically connect to their home networks. These are much easier to infiltrate than corporate networks. By setting up a VPN, you can reduce these risks. If you’re looking for further assistance with VPNs, it’s good to know that they are also commonly referred to as “virtual private networks”. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your staff have a firewall on all devices that they are using for work.
- Cybersecurity training – the more your staff are aware of potential cybersecurity issues, the less likely they are to fall prey to them. This is why cybersecurity training is essential. Phishing tends to be one of most commonly employed methods that hackers use to gain access to your business, systems and data, so this is a good place to start. Phishing is the use of deceptive emails and websites to gain protected or personal information. Teach staff to keep an look out for emails with bad spelling and grammar, generic greetings (such as “sir” or “madam”), direct requests to click links or provide personal information and odd or misspelled email addresses (such as email@example.com)
Heading Back to the Office
If you decide that your staff should head back into the office, you will have to undertake a few changes to keep in line with the times too. Here are a few that you should undertake before staff return, as well as some that will now simply be an ongoing part of office life.
Surveying the Office Space
First, head into your workspace and ensure that it is still fit for purpose. All sorts of problems could have occurred while you have been away, so you may need to undertake some repair work that JR&CO can help you to complete.
Settling Staff Back In
Remember that staff have been working from home for quite a while now. They may need to settle back into working in a professional space. So, consider a phased return. You should also make sure that staff can reach out to you with any concerns or queries. This will help to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
Remember that rules and regulations are always changing. So, if you’re considering signing a contract or lease, be wary of extended ones or ones that aren’t lenient in regards to the pandemic.
These are just a few different things you can do as we take our first steps back into a world of normality. Hopefully, some of the information above will help you to do what’s best for your business and its needs!