The UK is perhaps days away from being told that everyone must work from home to help delay the spread of coronavirus. Already, businesses around the world have enforced mandatory remote working, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Salesforce.
The coronavirus pandemic is bringing disruption to the status quo, with governments, public bodies, and businesses stepping up measures in an effort to contain and delay the outbreak. Around the globe, schools and colleges are closing, high street shops (with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies) are shutting their doors, and major sports and music events are being postponed.
The spread of the virus is understandably fuelling a rise in remote working, as people seek to avoid the crowds of public transport and busy open-plan offices to enable social distancing and lessen the virus’s impact. But how can companies prepare for home working in an emergency like this, if they’ve never done it before?
Here are some steps to make the transition as smooth as possible:
Keep staff up-to-date
Enforced home working is likely to happen quickly, so make sure that you communicate any changes to staff as soon as possible. Send internal messages and post the latest news on your company intranet to inform employees of emergency plans, and monitor the responses accordingly to ensure that vital updates are being read.
In general, home working is most successful when the lines of communication are constantly open. If you’re a manager or supervisor, let your staff know what your expectations are: do you want to hear from your staff several times a day, at the end of the day, or just whenever there is an issue? Being upfront from the start will make sure there are no crossed wires.
Get the right technology in place
One of the biggest reasons that companies are reluctant to allow remote working in the first place is due to lack of infrastructure. With coronavirus spreading rapidly and enforced remote working on the horizon, businesses may worry they’re not in a position to overhaul their technological setup fast enough to make remote working feasible.
But these days, setting up a digital workplace takes very little time and in-house resources, and provides everything that workers need to do their job from home, such as communicate with coworkers and share information. Thanks to cloud technology, all of the tools can be used out of the box straight away – you don’t need to spend months hiring specialist IT staff or writing code to get your business technology ready for remote working.
Create a dedicated workspace
People who are new to remote working might find it difficult at first to focus at home. Encourage staff to create a dedicated space at home that’s just for work, away from the distractions of household chores, nosy neighbours, or the TV. Many people won’t have the luxury of a separate home office, but working from the kitchen or coffee table will work just as well.
Doing this will help workers quickly get into “work mode”, and also help them to separate work and leisure time. It can be all too easy to let work spill late into the evening, so it’s important your staff put mental and physical barriers in place to prevent this from happening.