With more than 300,000 people infected with coronavirus around the world, many companies are swiftly implementing work-from-home policies to avoid all non-essential contact for staff.

For organisations new to or unfamiliar with running their businesses off-site, this can pose a challenge and leave many feeling unsettled. Here are some simple ways to ensure your chances of a successful transition are less…remote.

Starting from the top

It’s important for managers, leaders and CEO’s to be across online tools and channels to lead by example and ensure they aren’t just throwing their staff in the deep end and expecting them to cope. Instead, leaders should be engaging with the process and be seen doing so. Not only does that send a signal that this is the accepted way we’ll be doing things from now on, but it also fosters unity, and shows that we are all in this together.

Just keep talking

There’s no avoiding the loss of face-to-face interaction that comes with the need to isolate and working alone in front of a computer screen is vastly different from the hustle and bustle of your usual office environment. As a result, clear communication and collaboration become all the more important. There are plenty of tools to keep staff connected and teams synchronised, but it’s important to realise that talking through technology isn’t as precise as personal interaction: a rushed email or misinterpreted Slack comment can leave the best of us feeling anxious, particularly at his unsettling time.

Try picking up the phone or doing a quick video chat to ensure communication is transparent and encourage your team to socialise and chat online in the same way they would in a real-life office. One idea is the use of an internal Instagram account, which could feature images and live chats from remote teams. Sending images of lunch spots, conversations around daily challenges or motivations, and the encouragement of non-work topics can boost the morale of your team and connect colleagues on a deeper level.

COVID-19 is not the only virus…

Homes generally don’t have the same level of cybersecurity as offices, and staff working from home may have to use personal devices and home networks that lack the tools built into business networks – think secure antivirus software, customised firewalls, and automatic online backup tools. Thankfully, armed with the right knowledge and tools, teams can steer clear of cyber threats and continue to get the job done. It’s worth looking into the use of VPNs to channel traffic…and if unable to provide dedicated take-home devices for staff, having an IT surgery where personal devices can be assessed for risks.

Mind how you go

Working alone without the everyday interactions we’ve become used to, can be wearing on a mental-health level. When you don’t have an office to show up to, you miss out on opportunities for regular social interaction and connection with co-workers, and some may start to feel isolated, even depressed. You can lessen the impact of changing location by creating a comfortable and private place to work in your home and incorporating exercise breaks and social interaction into your routine. Even just turning off email notifications before and after working hours and maintaining a normal sleep schedule will help keep a feeling of normalcy.

So while it’s certain that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to remote working practices for many companies that may not have considered them an option, some simple preparation will make it less of a chore and more an opportunity to trial workplace flexibility for the future. To find out more on Hames Sharley’s strategy approach to the COVID-19 virus, click here.

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