The Coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively affect Australia and all other countries throughout the globe. Some states in Australia such as Melbourne have been hit with a second COVID-19 wave, which means tougher restrictions and more employees continuing to work from their homes.
Even though some businesses such as tech companies and online startups have already been experimenting with their employees working from home before the pandemic hit early in 2020, many other businesses have been taken by surprise. Fortunately, there have been options such as renting virtual offices in Melbourne to help them cope and adjust to the rapid change.
However, going ‘remote’ is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. Some of the biggest problems many businesses face is not the execution or implementation of their staff working remotely, but the long-term effects such as managing staff, workloads and productivity.
Staying remote post-crisis
Since the beginning of this year, the office is no longer what it used to be. As working remotely has become the new normal, every business should be drafting and implementing a remote work policy.
When drafting a remote work policy, it should cover important facets such as:
1) The terms for staff attendance.
2) Outlining the purpose of the policy.
3) The software and hardware policies.
4) All communication protocols.
5) Defining the nature of remote work such as part-time, once-off or full-time.
6) All related policies including sick leave and annual leave.
7) Any applicable support and benefits.
8) Setting the expectations.
9) Outlining all legal rights.
10) Listing all decisions and considerations.
Communication is crucial
When a business has its entire staff working from a virtual office, clear communication is the key to success. There are no more casual chats around the water cooler or over coffee in the staff kitchen. Everything that needs to happen, no matter how small, must be communicated.
This means that every single aspect of communication needs to be built into your company’s remote working policy. Whether this includes one-on-one reviews, informal braining storming sessions or daily morning meetings on Zoom or Skype, businesses must outline the guidelines on managing how they communicate with their staff.
This also includes text-based communication. A remote working policy should include specifics like defining the main channels of communication such as Skype or Gmail, each staff member’s availability they are expected to adhere to on the channel, and the expected response time for replying.
Keeping company information secure and private
There are many concerns that arise when businesses are forced to work remotely, and security is a major one. Even when staff are working from an office, a secured network is never a guarantee, but it can be harder to monitor and manage with staff working remotely.
When businesses are working remotely from virtual offices Melbourne, it is important to create and implement policies to ensure that sensitive company information remains secure and private. For example, there may be a guideline mentioned in the remote working policy which mentions that all employees should be using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep their home network secure and which approved software programs everyone should be using.
Apart from keeping sensitive company data secure, client confidentiality is also an important security factor. The policy should outline unapproved activities which may lead to comprising client confidentiality. For example, this can involve banning staff from taking sensitive client calls in a café or a public park.
Managing and monitoring employee productivity
Even though working remotely brings more flexibility to employees, it also brings more responsibility. Because managers are not able to manage their employees as easily as if they were in a physical office space, it is important to include metrics for monitoring employee performance and productivity.
The two most effective metrics to factor are input metrics (process-based) and output metrics (outcome-based).
For example, let’s say that a business is wanting to measure the productivity of one of their sales executives. To efficiently monitor their performance, this would require output metrics such as the number of clients they have acquired, revenue and more.
However, as output metrics are not directly controllable by the employee, creating a set of input metrics they are accountable for is important as well. For example, an input metric can include factors such as how many emails, meetings and follow-ups they have scheduled and conducted with potential prospects and more.
As the restrictions of the Coronavirus pandemic shows signs of easing in Victoria, continuing to work remotely is a likely reality for many businesses. If you are a startup or a small business and are looking to take advantage of the many virtual offices in Melbourne, consider the importance of creating and implementing a policy for remote work and ensure that your business can easily handle the transition to going online.