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Emergency Remote Work Planning

 

An emergency event, like a pandemic, can cause a massive interruption to everyday life. This applies not only to the pivotal health effects, but also to everyday things like transportation, food, and working life for those accustomed to going into an office.

Unfortunately, these types of disruptions can last for months, so responding to them as quickly and efficiently as possible is crucial. Lags and delays in getting a remote workforce up and running in a timely fashion can mean added stress on employers and employees alike, in addition to possibly complicating any potential underlying financial strain that may arise.

So, how do you prepare your workforce to respond to a major business disruption like this, and do so flexibly and quickly?  We review a few helpful tips when it comes to putting together an emergency remote working plan.

 


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Audit IT Software and Hardware

If possible, it is beneficial to get a plan in place to train team members on how to work remotely. Assessing their comfort level with the use of communications systems will be ideal to help to provide a further idea of where any training gaps may be before going fully remote.

Another key thing to think about is to ensure that you address and train employees on any best practices when it comes to cyber security and compliance. When workforces go remote on a grand scale within a short time, as they have during the COVID-19 pandemic, it  can open up several new vulnerabilities for hackers and spammers to take advantage of companies. A data breach, dependent on how significant, has the potential to cost companies enormous amounts—and potentially run them out of business entirely.

Educate your team on the importance of creating strong passwords, how to avoid email phishing scams, and other cyber security best practices, especially during this work from home period.


Set Up Emergency Work Plan Communication Guidelines

There should be a clear and concise communications plan in place when it comes to knowing how to reach each team member. It’s helpful to consolidate contact information in one place and make it well known which channels of communication employees are expected to use (phone, chat tool, team collaboration tool, videoconferencing, email, etc.). Making a list of all team members’ working hours, and any working hours that may change based on other things that are associated with working from home during an emergency (i.e. employees that have to also take care of children at home), is also incredibly helpful so that everyone is kept informed of when they can expect to reach each other.

 

Plan Meetings Strategically

When a team is scattered across multiple locations, it is more challenging to call a meeting instantaneously. You can’t casually walk over to a coworker's desk and ask if they have a moment to chat about a report or any upcoming deadlines.

Carefully examine meeting schedules and determine which ones are vital, which ones can be postponed, cancelled, or when there may be availability for a new meeting. In-person face-to-face time is limited, but virtual meetings should be prioritized every once in a while so that you maintain a sense of team. Perhaps daily morning and afternoon huddles are now advantageous to keep newer team members aligned, for example. With that, it is important to plan meeting times carefully.

Ensure that you are organizing meetings to be strategic and collaborate, and not just repeat information that can be easily shared via another medium such as email. 

 


Looking for a more productive alternative to email? Try MiCloud Connect for collaboration and MiTeam Meetings for videoconferencing >



Document and Communicate

During a remote working scenario, important business decisions that were formerly made in conference rooms or offices may now be made in virtual meeting rooms and group chat tools. Ensure that those decisions are being documented effectively. It is also ideal to have some sort of shared “hub” where team members can share individual updates that may apply or benefit the entire organization. This can be done with a shared project management tool.

 

Check In On Your Team

Remote working can be challenging, especially during emergency situations. It can also be particularly challenging depending on each individual team member’s work-from-home set-ups. Isolation can weigh heavily on individual team members, as well as any new potential stressors they may be experiencing by suddenly having to work from home. Check in on your team members – not just from a work perspective to ensure projects are still moving along – but also to make sure their mental well-being is holding up.

 

Identify What Worked and What Didn’t

Taking note of what is working while a full team is remote is important in order to identify any shifts that may need to happen in the future to benefit your company.  In the case that video conferencing is so effective that it allows a business to cut costs for travel, for example, or that it gives employees an added layer of flexibility that they didn’t have before, then a company can take what they learned from when their workforce was remote to move business forward once the emergency is over.

Pandemics like COVID-19 are incredibly challenging, disruptive and confusing for all. Most could not have predicted that their businesses would be facing this challenge during the first half of 2020. Whether your organization had an emergency remote working plan in place, or if you are still working out the kinks, having these tips, and ensuring that you have a plan for any future event that requires a sudden pivot to a virtual work set-up, is important for business continuity. 

 

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