Remote Working Information Toolkit
2. Main reasons for Remote Working
3. System Considerations
4. Technology Requirements
5. Human Resource Aspects
6. Further Information
Main reasons for Remote Working
There are a variety of reasons why remote working may become essential for an individual or whole teams of workers:
Health-related, such as the Covid 19 Pandemic
Barriers to the workplace, such as disruption due to flood or fire.
Remote Working may allow for your business to remain effective and productive whilst having a positive effect on workers and management.
Use this Toolkit to provide you with a framework to establish resilient best practices, systems, and processes to enable your business to remain successful.
Stanford produced research to show that participants who worked as a team continued with their work up to 64% longer than individuals left to work alone. They also enjoyed a higher engagement and success rate together with a feeling of having more energy.
We are most likely to be motivated to take on a challenge if we feel that we are part of a team.
Set Clear Work Systems
Workers will go about the same task in a variety of ways. It is vital to set standards so that objectives will be achieved in the least amount of time. This will increase certainty from team members who will therefore raise fewer queries and understand how to set about tasks and how much time individual tasks are expected to take.
Work Systems should be defined and repeatable.
Set Defined Outcomes
Staff should be provided with precise descriptions of expected outcomes. Provide examples of final results to illustrate to team members what the outcomes should look like.
Team Members need a combination of detailed instructions for executing tasks together with a certain amount of freedom to perform those tasks.
Ask team members to list their planned activities for the day using a calendar. Management should review these tasks early in the day with each member of the team to set expected outcomes.
Create a Sense of Routine
It is important that team players feel that there is structure to their day, week, and month. This can be achieved by holding meetings at the same set time each day/week/month as appropriate.
Further routine can be established by setting a regular time for telephone conversations or an expected time to receive a deliverable such as a completed task list.
A feeling of being in a work environment can be established by the use of video calls rather than simply a telephone call.
Have Agreed Working Hours
There will be some staff whose roles define their working hours, such as customer contact employees. However, many employees may not need to be so regimented, and even those with customer-facing roles might be able to be rostered at staggered times and still provide the service required.
A flexible approach is needed as each team member will need support for their own situation, which may include child care or even other caring responsibilities.
It is important to keep the team aspect as much as possible, so ensure that there are several hours a day where all team members are online together at the same time.
Team members may well be handling digital as well as written information at home for the first time.
In still in team members that all information must be kept safe and secure.
Paperwork should be locked away when not in use. Computers or laptops should have their screen locked when left alone. No data should be transferred to any home devices, including laptops, desktops, or mobile devices.
Establish a dress code. This might be that team members dress for work as if they would coming into the office.
Have a system for management to know when you are at work or not. Team members should not be contacted out of those hours.
Agree to set times for breaks during the working day, including lunch.
Diarise individual and group calls for general discussion as well as for more formal meetings.
Management should be able to know how often and when each staff member is being contacted, which should be regularly and frequently.
A laptop, provided by the business, should be issued to each staff member. Work should not take place on staff members’ own equipment if at all possible. Workers should only carry out work activities in the browser of their device if they are forced to use their own hardware in the short term.
A laptop should be an absolute priority purchase for the business should one not be immediately available for each staff member. Many work activities are possible using Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and so on.
Revisit the requirements of your GDPR compliance policies with staff members and give them practical examples of situations where these arise when working from home.
Mobile and Landline Telephones
You may wish to implement a Voice Over IP (VOIP) telephone system for business calls. You can ask staff members to download one of the free phone apps available to allow business calls to be made and received on their own mobile phones.
Adobe Acrobat Connect
Encourage a video call rather than sending an email as this will improve communication as well as reinforcing the sense of being in a team.
Virtual Meeting Tips
Use proper lighting – get the brightest light in front of you. This could be a nearby lamp or open window.
Do not use any backlighting – it may cause a silhouette.
Check your background – make sure there is nothing that shouldn’t be in your background.
Check yourself – Preview your video before going live. Dress appropriately for the event. Don’t get too close to the camera. You should be far enough away to have your head and shoulders on screen. Do not fill the screen entirely with your face.
Do not Use other applications – take care because your microphone will pick up sounds coming from your computer. Close all other programs like your email client Slack, and any other applications that make audible notifications to stop them from interrupting the call.
Be prepared for the meeting – Create and forward an agenda well in time and draw up any props such as diagrams, graphs, and statistics.
Send all login details a day or two ahead to allow staff members to check them out beforehand.
Ensure that all participants check in to the system about 10-15 minutes before the start time to allow time to sort out any technical issues.
- Your invitation to the meeting should include:
Notes from the last meeting
Intended length of the meeting
Use the usual practices that you would employ in any meeting – presentations should not be too long, an objective should be set for the meeting, a timekeeper and chairperson should be appointed along with a minutes taker and so on.
Staff members may take so time to get used to virtual meetings. Have a short training session to discuss all of these points as well as the importance of not being interrupted by domestic situations (such as a roaming cat) as well as familiarising everyone with s system like Slack for sharing links and comments during a meeting.
The technology or online meetings is now very user-friendly and nobody should fear any of these applications.
Virtual Meeting Hardware
The basics required are:
– Broadband connection
– A reasonable laptop or desktop machine.
– Either computer speakers or a headset.
– A microphone or a headset.
– Camera – either built into the computer/laptop or a USB webcam.
There is an endless supply of software applications to share presentations, draw graphs and take notes. However. simple is often best and you may prefer to use paper and pen for many of these things, at least to start. Too much technology at once can lead to delays and hold-ups when you need to concentrate on keeping your business on course.
Some individuals will take to remote working easily and enjoy whereas others will struggle. Discuss this issue with staff and try to identify the causes of any problems, which will fall into two main areas:
– personal traits – such as the tendency to get distracted easily
– working conditions – where the work location and circumstances create difficulties to work remotely, such as a lack of a separate room to work in or constant interruptions from family members.
Adopt a suitable management strategy for each employee and monitor the results.
Introduce and enforce a Wellbeing System for all staff. Any existing system will need to be updated for the remote working situation.
Maintain Professional Standards
Rules should be agreed upon by all as to how to act in a remote working environment. Professionalism must be maintained.
Remember that there are still Health and Safety requirements for remote workers.
Your business may be a physical one. How can you adapt it to a virtual environment? Can you set up a shop? This could be for either a business that sells physical goods or services.
Maintain communication with customers. Find reasons to communicate with them via your newsletters and social media. This may be more than just sales messages. You could keep them informed about how you are adapting to the new environment, give them an insight into some of the staff and how they are changing their working habits and how customers can keep in touch with you.
Setting up online payments is fairly simple these days. Fewer people are using cash. PayPal is popular and there are others such as Stripe to consider.
All of this information is provided without liability. It is not intended as legal advice. The author and publisher cannot be held responsible for anything arising out of using this information.