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Advice for Coping With the Challenge of a Remote Workforce

Web.com Team
working from home with tea

From Our Partners at Phone.com

Organizations across the globe are now facing the daunting task of creating the necessary infrastructure and support mechanisms for those jobs that can be done with a distributed workforce. We’d like to share some tips and tell you a little bit about how we are addressing this situation at Phone.com.

Best Practices for Remote Work Situations

There are multiple factors that play into how easily you can roll out a remote workforce capability, including the type of work required to keep operations running, your technology infrastructure and internal support. Here are some best practices to consider.

Communicate Openly
Fear of the unknown is considered a fundamental fear. In an unprecedented situation like the one we find ourselves in today, the unknown can quickly lead to high levels of anxiety and even panic. While you may not always have all of the information to alleviate employees’ fears, you should aim to at least communicate often what you do know, particularly as it relates to your organization. Keeping all of your employees in the loop as to how the crisis is evolving and impacting your business, how your organization is responding and what they can do in the near term can help relieve anxiety. It also shows you care about the health and well-being of your employees above all else.

Set Expectations
Be sure to set expectations for each employee on their individual role. Be detailed in the tasks they are to complete, the processes they are to follow, and who they are to report to during the emergency. Uncertainty is the enemy in this situation. Setting deliverable-based expectations is a much better approach than trying to ensure people are working every minute. Managers will play a pivotal role in ensuring expectations are clearly articulated to those who report to them, tracking each person’s performance and providing feedback. 

Ask Employees What Support they Need
If you’ve had to create or increase remote work capacity in a pinch, it’s likely your employees will need support in preparing their remote workspace. Depending on the structure of your company, you may designate a single person to manage requests or enlist the help of managers to reach out to each of their employees. 

You’ll want to know if they have the basics, such as reliable and secure internet/wifi connection, VPN access if needed, a computer or an alternate device to log into email and other apps they need to perform their tasks. They should have a business phone connection either on their mobile device or via the use of a computer softphone (software that enables internet calling). Collect the information and then work with your team to equip people with what they need to do their jobs.

Reduce Vulnerabilities Combat Fraud
Sadly, some people will try to take advantage of your network or online communication tools even during a pandemic. The switch to working from home may mean new devices connecting to your systems. Make sure you ensure that everyone is using complex passwords. If someone uses "1234" or "password" for their mobile phone application, thinking that it's just a phone, hackers will find the hole and exploit it. 

Provide Employees with Tips for Working from Home
Many of your employees may have never worked from home before and aren’t sure how to make the most of their new work environment. It’s easy to get distracted, procrastinate, allow interruptions and become less productive. Here are a few resources you can provide employees who aren’t used to working from home so they can feel more comfortable:

PC Magazine - 20 Tips for Working from Home
Forbes - Five Crucial Tips for Working from Home
Inc. - 11 Best Productivity Tips for Working from Home

Keep the Workforce Connected
While working from home may be preferred by many, it can also feel isolating, particularly for employees who are used to working with other people. Gallup says 21 percent of remote workers say their biggest struggle is “loneliness.” For those employees who need it, they recommend establishing online group chats to encourage regular, virtual “hallway chatter” and/or weekly “phone trees” where remote workers can gather around a workplace topic.

Whether your employees enjoy the solitude of remote working or not, it’s important, according to Gallup, to make sure they aren’t “cut off” from the organization. Managers must make a concerted effort to keep their employees “visible and their advancement, development and recognition top of mind.” They must be engaged not only with their work but with your organization.

How Phone by Web.com Technology Can Help
During this situation, or any other that may require a change to business as usual, Phone by Web.com can help ensure that your business continues to operate smoothly, even if remote work is necessary. 

Whether you choose Phone by Web.com or another solution, the important thing is that the system be reliable, scalable and easy to use. 

Every effort should be made to ensure that calls are made and received on business phone numbers, not the personal mobile or home numbers of employees. This not only protects employee privacy, but it also will significantly reduce the chaos when this emergency has passed.

When using Phone by Web.com, you can make and receive calls using your business phone number, send and receive text messages, including pictures and group messages, access your voicemails with transcriptions, send faxes and manage your business contacts. 

Phone by Web.com also includes a mobile app for when you are on the go, as well as a fully-featured online desktop app, which allows you to manage your communications from anywhere.

What Phone.com Is Doing to Support our Employees and Clients 
Here’s what we’re doing behind the scenes to make sure we’re always prepared so our clients are always prepared:

  • We conduct remote-work tests during non-emergency times to ensure that we are prepared.
  • Our network features multiple geographically-redundant offices and data centers.
  • We have remote working capabilities for employees in all regions.
  • We have business continuity and health and safety plans in place for all Phone.com locations, should they be required.

 

Remote working may not be ideal for your company for the long term, but with the best practices above, you can adapt your business to meet the challenges that we will all face for the foreseeable future. By giving your employees the technology and protocol they need to remain productive and efficient in this crisis, you can ensure your business stays strong and can weather the storm.

We want to conclude by acknowledging those workers who can't do their job from home. Without the hospital professionals, grocery store workers, pharmacists, first responders, delivery drivers, utility workers, assisted living staff and countless others out there in our communities, this situation would be even worse than it is. We thank you for all that you do.


Images:
Featured - Unsplash
Image 1 - Unsplash
Image 2 - Unsplash