By Mary Kate McGrath - October 20, 2020
In March, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders required companies to rapidly transition to remote work. Now, with a vaccine still months away from approval and distribution, it seems that a long term remote work plan will be necessary across industries. Employers transitioning to a long term remote work or hybrid work model should continue to promote collaboration, creativity, and productivity to meet immediate and long term business objectives.
It’s not only government agencies that are continuing to work-from-home until 2021 - in May, tech giants Twitter, Apple, and Facebook extended remote work policies indefinitely, announced strategies to keep office capacities low, and rolled out plans to transition a large contingent of their workforce to remote over the next 10 years. Many companies are realizing the potential benefits of a remote workforce, including a boost in employee morale, saving resources on unnecessary office space, and a wider pool of talent to choose from.
There are many benefits to a long term plan for remote working, and while the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a rapid transition into a work-from-home model, employers can make long term plans to make these efforts sustainable. There are many strategies for creating a long-term-remote work plan - however, top priorities should include setting and establishing clear objectives and goals, allow employees the flexibility necessary to meet these goals, and creating a comprehensive communication plan that promotes connectivity and can reach workers anywhere.
Businesses considering transitioning to remote work, or a hybrid model where only essential workers are in-office should consider how the shift can positively impact company goals. Additionally, administrators should continue to support workers from afar, ensuring all workers can keep in touch with IT, HR, and other relevant departments, and that all have the necessary office resources to do their role from home.
Also, investing in a robust communication infrastructure, preventing workers from becoming isolated or siloed, making sure all departments understand corporate objectives as well as overall vision and continuing to prioritize a highly transparent, equitable company culture is essential.
While companies are getting an immediate benefit from work-from-home policies - continuing business operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic while mitigating the spread of the virus - remote work can continue to provide value in the future. These potential benefits can include higher rates of productivity, savings on office space, travel, salaries adjusted for high cost-of-living areas, access to a wider pool of talent, and better retention rates. With proper planning, businesses can continue to derive value from remote work, long after the pandemic wanes.
There are three major considerations for companies crafting a long-term remote work plan - technologies, resources, and rules, according to the Harvard Business Review. The technology aspect means all the existing or yet-to-be implemented tools necessary for making a remote workforce functional in the long term, including all collaboration, creativity, and productivity tools.
The next consideration will be the resources, policies, practices, and processes your system needs to function, including HR considerations such as travel, professional development, and compensation. This also includes home office stipends and other considerations to ensure workers are capable and comfortable. Finally, companies should establish a set of rules, norms, and key metrics to determine that culture and values are being upheld and preserved, even with a predominately remote workforce.
Many major companies are already seizing the opportunity to implement long term work-from-home policies. For example, Twitter has allowed workers to remain WFH permanently, except for anyone with an essential in-person role, such as maintaining computer servers, as per CNET. The company noted that the transition supported their focus on decentralization and emphasis on, “a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere,” a spokesperson told the site.
Other tech giants have followed suit - Facebook reported that nearly half its staff will transition to work-from-home over the next ten years, with a specific emphasis on maintaining a team mentality across the company. This will be accomplished through WFH requirements - workers eligible must have strong job performance and be experienced - as well as a long term plan to establish hubs of work-from-home employees in Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver.
Even government agencies have found success in transitioning to a remote workforce. In Washington State, mandatory teleworking was extended through the end of the year, with all agencies taking a “regional approach” to telework that will, “continue to meet the needs of residents, maximize physical distancing for people who need to report to work in person, and further stem the spread of COVID-19,” as per Governing.
The transition has required governments to fulfill goods and services online or over the phone, a convenience many residents are hoping will continue to be available post-pandemic. Officials also proactively communicated with workers about the WFH extension so all could plan their home lives around the change accordingly.
It’s essential for businesses to communicate with all workers, whether they are on-site, working from home, or traveling. Employers should develop a comprehensive and flexible communication plan that accounts for remote working, hybrid working, and other models that integrate workers who are doing their role from home. A comprehensive communication and collaboration solution can keep workers connected and informed throughout the pandemic, but these tools, which include an incident notification system and employee safety app, can continue to provide value for a remote workforce in the long term.
First, the tool allows administrators to reach workers with a broad range of communications around the status of your organization, including health tips, emergency procedures, or return-to-office protocol. The app can also boost employee engagement, allowing workers to access critical company resources, no matter where they are via the app resource center.
Administrators can also communicate with remote, mobile or traveling employees to keep them up to date with what is going on at headquarters. Deliver push notifications to workers directly, either across the organization or based on location or region, allowing for more precise and targeted communications.
Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.
1) What is the Rave Panic Button? Who can initiate it and what information does it share with school staff,...