How to avoid chaos when switching to the remote work

It was the fifth week of quarantine… Empty streets, offices, rare shoppers in the groceries. Production has stopped, but not everything is as terrible as it might seem at a first glance. Most enterprises have moved their offices to remote mode long ago Today, for those who still have not done this or do not know how I will tell what to pay attention to when transferring employees to a telework

The coronavirus epidemic forced Ukrainian companies to urgently learn how to work in a remote format. Tops transfer daily standard meetings into Skype conferences and instant messengers. Programs often fail, employees are forced to monitor mail, chats in all instant messengers and track missed calls simultaneously. Panic in the air becomes almost tangible, and top managers cease to see the full picture.

How to avoid chaos, you ask? Stop panicking and follow my recommendations. Use these tips as a checklist and check if you have done everything so that the transition to the remote format went smoothly.

1. Keep the documents in order

Telework is a new format for employees, and it is not equal to vacation! (as many people think). Therefore, my advice number 1 is to consolidate the new labor relations with employees documented. If your employees are staffed, you have two options: either sign an additional agreement to the main agreement on the transfer to a remote work format; or conclude a new labor contract providing for a remote work format. It will help to avoid misunderstandings between you and prevent disagreements. Besides, make sure to write labor hours, responsibilities, and programs for completing the tasks in the contract!

2. IT resources to help

What programs do you use internally? Are they available online from anywhere in the world or just inside the office? With an ERP system, transferring employees to remote work will be simple. If there is none, you should immediately get her. Make internal resources available to key employees. Assign your IT department to deal with this issue and provide access to everyone who needs it.

3. Time management above all

Analyze your subordinates’ work, and make a detailed list of working processes and practices aimed at obtaining a result. For example, if you had briefings every morning at 10:00 a.m. before transferring to the remote work, hold them at the same time using Skype or Zoom. Do not deprive people of the usual practices that promote productive work!

4. Refuse 1000 and 1 messenger

Constant and uninterrupted communication online is the key to the successful completion of tasks. Conduct an opinion poll, analyze which instant messengers are more familiar, more convenient, or more useful for your employees. Maybe Viber? Can employees use chats in a CRM system? People must be in a single information field. If you have not yet achieved this, use IP telephony in CRM so that incoming calls are forwarded to those employees who can currently answer, and so that calls can subsequently be recorded for monitoring purposes. It may seem to someone very complicated, but in practice, it is not.

Understand one thing – the more messengers used in the practice of your company – the worse. The abundance of communication channels leads to chaos. Leave the prerogative of 1000 and 1 messenger for sales staff only. They need them to communicate with customers. The rest is completely unnecessary.

5. Trust but verify

Have you ever tracked your employees’ work: number of hours worked, productivity, reporting? If not, then it’s time to start doing it. If you held meetings to monitor implementation, continue to do it remotely. Try to transfer the culture that has already been developed in your company online. A clear statement of the problem and the timing of its implementation is important. A variety of task trackers will help. All your employees should record a “photo of the working day” – a report showing how much time they worked on specific tasks during the day. Moreover, it is important that fixation occurs during the day, and not at the end “by eye”.

6. Safety above all

Using free instant messengers for work discussions can be unsafe. Other solutions can be used to minimize the risk of hacking or information leakage. To exchange work files safely and not merge information to competitors, I recommend using cloud storage and settings of different access levels.

7. Do not call others just when you want

The information exchange time is no less important than the way it is exchanged. You, as a leader, need to introduce certain rules for calls and messaging between your employees, especially if they are located in different cities, countries or even on different continents.

If your message is too long or you have to send it after hours, perhaps it’s better to send it by e-mail? If someone needs to call a colleague or client, I recommend treating it the same as a business meeting. If it’s not a super urgent question or if you need more than a few minutes to talk, coordinate the call time in advance. No need to make calls, especially collective ones, without warning.