It looks like remote working will be with us for some time to come, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be anticipating a return to in-house operations. When things change again, it’s important to be able to hit the ground running. This week’s tip is about returning to the office, as well as best practices for remote working in the interim.
Whether it’s by choice or as a response to a crisis, whenever you make major changes to how you and your business conduct your operations preparations to make the transition smooth are essential. Change can be disruptive, so here are some things to consider.
A routine is a useful thing. It helps people work according to a pre-existing set of timings without having to think too much about procedures and task sequencing. Routines save time and energy. This is something to remember when moving to remote working. Ideally, you should try to preserve whatever you can of your prior workday routine. Examples include starting work at the same time, at a suitably familiar workstation. Some people even continue to dress up as if going to the office, in order to normalize the work experience and maintain productivity at existing levels.
Staff working remotely will find it easier to manage the change if you provide them with the tools they need to continue to work collaboratively outside an office environment. Email is a standard communication tool but there alternatives and supplementary options. They include instant messaging and videoconferencing, which in certain scenarios can be more effective communication tools.
Keeping in contact is crucial, but it’s always a bit more difficult when team members can’t just speak to the person at the next workstation for advice or feedback. As well as providing the tools, it’s necessary to be proactive, encouraging people to use these tools as standard practice. It’s good for your operations, and the workplace morale that helps to oil the wheels.
After a while, working at home or remotely will become the new routine, and you will need to plan for a return to the workplace. This might be easier said than done, and the process will need facilitating, just as it did when operations shifted in the other direction. Again, there are things you can do to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Some people find that remote work suits them and is the most comfortable and enjoyable way to function. Don’t impose a sudden switch back. If it doesn’t interfere with other people’s work or impact on productivity then why not allow them to carry on, at least in the shorter term? At the very least, allow people to ease back into things gently.
Consider the social aspects of working. Working remotely cuts out the normal social interactions that happen during breaks or at the water cooler. When back in the office, people may have some catching up to do, and will enjoy reconnecting with workmates. Cut them a bit of slack, as long as it isn’t denting productivity. Once the current health crisis is under control, you could even foster this team spirit, which creates a happier, more efficient workplace, by sponsoring some social events.
Some staff may welcome the opportunity to once again put on their smart clothes for work. Others may have loved the chance to wear comfortable clothes, no tie or high heels and makeup. Imposing a strict dress code immediately may not be the way to go. There’s a line that probably shouldn’t be crossed, of course. Ragged sweatpants and tatty t-shirts aren’t a good look for a business, especially for anyone dealing face-to-face with clients. But you can never lose by making the office a bit more inviting, even if it’s just buying some plants.
No shift from in-house to remote working and then back to in-house working can be entirely seamless. Thinking it through and taking steps to make the transition easier will benefit your staff and, ultimately, your business. When it comes to the changes in using technology that accompany these shifts, you can leave that to Quikteks. Call us today to discover how we can assist with your business technology for collaborative and remote working, at (973) 882-4644.