The spread of COVID-19 across Canada is leading employers to reevaluate their workplace setup. Many are turning to remote work to keep their workers and communities safe, while doing their part to flatten the curve.
For employers who have little or no experience with implementing working from home on a large scale, this can be a difficult process. Navigating the legal, technical, and financial implications is not always straightforward. Here are some guiding principles to help you roll out remote work, while doing what’s best for your organization and for your employees.
define your work from home policy
Once you’ve made the decision to ask your workers to operate remotely, you need to communicate your decision to your employees. Depending on the size of your organization, this may mean involving your legal and HR teams to ensure that issues like privacy, security, payroll, and benefits are addressed. If you have a health and safety team, provide ergonomic best practices for setting up a home office. When you have all the relevant information, tools, and resources for your employees, explain the context in which you are choosing to implement remote work. Flattering the curve is a global effort, but expressing concern for your employees' safety can instill confidence and boost morale during a difficult period.
communicate clear expectations and guidelines
If your employees aren’t accustomed to remote work, a drastic transition to being home full-time can be daunting. The structure and support they find in an office isn’t easy to replicate at home, so it’s crucial for employers to provide clear expectations and guidelines. Although you might not know how long your work from home policy will be in place, try to provide broad estimates. Be transparent about your priorities as an organization, as a team, and on an individual level. Discuss what projects and initiatives will be your focus in the upcoming days and weeks. Providing your employees with structure will help them feel more confident and secure when working from home.
provide tools and resources
Before you ask your employees to work from home, prepare them with everything they need to operate as efficiently as possible. This means equipping your workers with proper hardware and software, ensuring they have access to the internet and VPN, and supporting them in creating a safe workspace. You also need to give your teams quick and easy access to technical support. Nobody wants to find themselves with no internet and a looming deadline, so be proactive and communicate openly with your workers about the tools they need to make remote work convenient and comfortable.
keep up regular communication
Working remotely can take a toll on team spirit. When you're in direct contact with your colleagues and managers, working together and supporting each other comes naturally. However, things get complicated when you’re isolated. Communication channels become unclear and, in consequence, morale can suffer. To prevent this, it’s important to stay in regular contact with your team. This will look different for everyone. You might schedule daily morning meetings to touch base with your team, discuss urgent projects, and communicate updates. You can plan weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee to review their workload, chat about their mental health, and address their concerns. To nurture a positive team dynamic, consider creating a group chat where each person can share thoughts and discuss ideas. The key is to make everyone feel included.
offer continuous support
Given the circumstances under which you’ve decided to implement working from home, remember that your employees may need additional support, work-related or personal. Try to create a dynamic where your team feels comfortable reaching out to you for help. Even more importantly, ensure to provide a direct and accessible resource employees can reach urgently. Whether they need immediate technical assistance, begin to feel discouraged, need to tend to their health or to the health of a family member, remember that providing your employees with relevant support is essential for a positive remote working experience.
As you call upon your employees and colleagues to do their part to flatten the curve, remember that beyond the needs of your business, the wellbeing of your employees play a crucial part in your ability to weather the storm. Remain as clear and transparent as possible, provide your workers with the tools and resources they need, and you can expect an efficient working from home period.