To comply with social distancing and stay-at-home orders, businesses across sectors shut down their in-person operations and moved to remote work. While the transition may have been challenging at first, companies have found their footing and learned to work from home successfully. Many expect to continue a remote or partially remote model even after the pandemic has passed.
Taking the right steps upfront can ensure a transition to a long-term remote or hybrid workplace goes smoothly. If you’re looking to optimize your business for a remote working arrangement, try these 13 strategies recommended by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.
1. Empower decision-making.
A key way to optimize your business for a hybrid workforce is to look at how you empower your team. They need to be able to learn, iterate and make quick decisions to deal with rapidly changing environments. Do what you can to eliminate roadblocks in your team’s decision-making process. – Jonah Paransky, Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions
2. Make in-office work a luxury.
Hybrid implies people will work from home and work in the office. Seeing people in person and maintaining the personal side of the business is important. To make sure hybrid actually happens, assuming the pandemic is over, companies should make working in the office a luxury. Maybe lunches, snacks and coffee can be provided for those in the office, helping create a welcoming work environment. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant
3. Give everyone the same tools and expectations.
A few things have really allowed our team to thrive in a remote work environment. We give our employees tools specific to seamless communication and cross-functional project management (Slack and Asana). We use video during meetings to maintain a human connection, we overcommunicate on expectations and timelines, and we review and modify meetings for efficiency every quarter. – Betsy Hauser, Tech Talent South
4. Put everyone on a level playing field during meetings.
When you have meetings, be sure that everyone is on a level playing field and can participate. This usually means that if one person is dialed in or on Zoom, then everyone is dialed in or on Zoom, and there aren’t groups of people in a room together. You lose the group dynamic as soon as part of the group can easily communicate in person and ignore the remote participants. – Wes Jackson, Three Wire Systems
5. Set up regular but brief virtual meetings.
So far we’ve found the best way to keep our teams in step is to keep communication constant but not overbearing. We like to begin every day with a short virtual team meeting where everyone has an opportunity to share their work and enumerate their goals. Making sure everyone is on the same page with clear objectives is invaluable, whether or not they are in the same room. – Josh Green, Software Verde, LLC
6. Set up instant messaging and video chat software.
Set up collaboration tools to give your team members the ability to seamlessly communicate while they’re remote. To simulate communication virtually, teams need instant messaging or video chat software like Microsoft Teams. Businesses may not realize how much they need these tools until they start working remotely, but it will help team members to be productive while social distancing. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
7. Beef up IT support.
We’ve focused on increasing our security post-pandemic to allow employees to work from home more often. Because Futurety is a data analytics company, we already have to meet very high security standards to safely store data from organizations. We’ve increased our IT support to allow employees to safely and effectively access data from a remote location while protecting all sensitive information. – William Balderaz, Futurety
8. Set clear objectives and attendance policies.
Setting clear objectives with remote working fluidity is a great way to optimize a hybrid workforce. Setting a minimum number of in-office hours or specific days of the week is a great way to maximize flexibility and performance. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
9. Keep your team connected via a single application.
One way to optimize business performance is to implement a communication platform that keeps workforces connected from a single application. Organizations should offer workers the ability to seamlessly access video conferencing, chat, file sharing, call listening, CRM access and other essential business functions through a single platform. Connectivity will be one of the keys to sustained remote work. – Matthew Halle, Lead2Growth
10. Continue virtual standups.
Continue holding virtual standup meetings, even when people are back in the office. Not only will this continue to ensure that the remote team doesn’t feel left out, but it will also continue to enforce a time limit and minimize rabbit hole discussions. – Cody McLain, SupportNinja
11. Adopt rigorous digital security practices.
For a hybrid office, it is vital that you continuously use firewalls, ensure that all computer disks are encrypted and upgrade all antivirus software. Team members should connect through VPNs and enable multifactor authentication. These affordable and simple practices will safeguard your business from security threats. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
12. Update your recruiting and hiring processes.
Recruiting and hiring practices must be adapted so you can learn how a potential employee will perform when working remotely. Most behavioral tests have yet to be modified to test how future employees will react to different working scenarios, whether they be hybrid or fully remote. As employers, we have a lot to learn about matching employees to their most productive work environment. For now, get ready and learn. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing
13. Make essential information accessible from anywhere, 24/7.
One of the biggest challenges in shifting to a hybrid workspace from a traditional one is communication. You want to make sure that everyone is connected and that all essential information is accessible at any given moment of time, no matter where your team members are. Once you take care of that, consider the transition successfully made. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS