Every major and minor business, in these 9 excruciating months amid the global pandemic, has tried to shift a portion of their work to be operated and done remotely. This transition is new and very complex for employees that have limited knowledge of working remotely with the same resources they had in the office. You just can’t ask the co-worker in the next cubicle to help you with an issue if you are at your residence with a computer.
The majority of top-tier authorities are ignorant about the problems that will be encountered by their employees when they are directed to work remotely, far from the office. The challenges that come with working from home can disturb the workflow of the company and can result in grave financial loss and frustrated employees that are not pleased by the decision. After that commotion followed by managers and employees blaming each other for the disaster, your business will not survive the impending doom.
Wow! That turned dark almost instantly. It is one of the few outcomes if you are not able to implement a robust strategy of migrating all your company’s work onto a remote platform. We’ve just painted a picture, that’s all. Before making any suggestions, let’s first try to understand the challenges faced by an employee when they migrate to an online, remote working environment.
Challenge Faced by employees For remote working
The operating infrastructure is the first aspect to consider when you are migrating office work to a remote environment. Middle-level employees with enough resources can easily transition to a remote work culture with no hassle whatsoever. But low-level employees that are of equal importance and lack the funds and means to migrate to a remote work platform cannot do so. The owners may have to come up with the capital for the resources required for a remote working system, as you just cannot throw existing employees under the bus and hire new ones, which is a greater challenge than this.
For working on a remote operating business existing employees, at minimum, need an internet connection (a reliable one if your remote system is a resource-hungry one) and a computer that meets the minimum system requirements of the software. It is quintessential for business owners to note that a small business can make do with the cloud-based basic version of a project management software, but the enterprise-grade business need the hardware to be future proof and which can last a few years before critical failure.
Comprehending the new system
Comprehending the new system and adapting to its working is another change that your employees may not be ready to face yet. If you are totally revamping your functioning model the system has to be super intuitive for even the novice users to understand and work on it with ease. Not every employee of a diverse age group knows the nuances of computers but is still a reliable asset for your organization.
Since employees are not in the office anymore, storming into the team leader’s cubicle and your peers is no longer possible to solve queries on the spot. Being connected via the internet still offers many modes of communication, but in a working environment prompt replies are necessary, and that too during the working hours itself. That means communication will play a more effective role when the business is migrated to a remote workplace.
Since there is no physical access to the old records or the previous data stored on the system, referencing the data and working on new tasks becomes a challenge for remote workers. Especially in a non-IT business environment that uses the traditional methods of data storage and collection. A central repository for data is vital for the employees to carry on with new projects and tasks while having a clear gateway to access the old ones with ease.
Since the remote working environment, in the beginning, is not as productive as it tends to get, after a few weeks. The employees may find themselves clocking more than normal hours to do the same tasks. This can gradually lead to burnout that deters the quality of work towards the projects. Increasing the stress level is the last thing you want to do to an employee, that is distant from the company.
Accidental Leaks of Company Data
Remote work facility makes it possible to carry your work device to different places if needed. Using another person’s internet connection or much worse a public Wi-Fi can increase the risk of data theft that is of critical importance to the company. Employees may not be aware of this risk and may continue to use an unsecured connection for company work while continuously leaking confidential data.
Especially in this Covid-19 marred scenario, work from home is an absolute disaster for beginners. With screaming siblings, screams, interruptions during important conferences are very common and hamper productivity in the long run. To replicate the exact work environment at home and establish boundaries for other family members can be a challenge for employees new to remote work culture.
We have discussed the challenges that employees may face when you migrate to a remote working system. Implementable actions must be devised to overcome each and every challenge in order to ensure the same and even more productive when you permanently move online. That’s the primary objective, after all, spearheading the company to progress and profits. Now, if the decision is firm, there are a few pointers to exactly implement a remote working system that ensures to leaves are unturned when you implement the strategy.
Converse with an IT consultant
Enterprise solutions are tailored to fit your requirements and expectations to the fullest. Talking about the transition with the consultant can help them better understand your needs while formulating a base strategy for your remote working system. It can be tedious at first because it involves long hours of discussions regarding the features, attributes, access levels, the infrastructure required, budgeting, and current status of the system in place if any.
Gradually inform your employees
After the green light from the consultants, you can start informing your employees about the advantages of an online working system and gradually help them to develop a liking for it. Explain the improvements that it will bring to the company and the ease of work that will reduce the work burden on employees. Conduct frequent seminars about the way the transition will happen and also keep a record of the employees that are on board with your idea. Those not in favor may need some convincing but mostly employees devoted to the betterment of the firm will agree over a course of time. Timing is very crucial if you are an established business looking to make a transition to a remote working environment. Last-minute notices are the worst way to convey crucial information and may lead to the loss of work staff.
For newer business, it’s building something from scratch and require more inputs and references than you can possibly imagine. Automation happens only after your manual inputs and avoiding that will only result in frequent alterations.
Conduct training workshops
After the system is in place and ready to be up and running, the employees need to be trained before they can wave goodbye to the workplace once and for all. Educational training sessions conducted by developers and team leaders that have tried their hand at the online working system are necessary to teach every employee. The employees should have crystal clear conversations with the corresponding teachers and should participate in active discussions. More queries result in coverage of every minuscule feature of the system in detail and also helps in identifying inherent flaws if any.
Even after training sessions are completed, proper documentation describing the working and functionalities should be presented to each employee for any abrupt queries. Settings up a central video library that contains videos about performing an action on the system can help the employees to handle most interruptions themselves, without disrupting the workflow, and solve errors themselves.
Create a reliable maintenance and support team
After migrating to a remote working system malfunctions, several issues, speed throttling, access levels, and mere upload and download can pose a problem sometimes. These are not inherent vulnerabilities but can occur after a system update or integration of a new module. To tackle this and easily resolve the issue faced by the employees, a reliable maintenance and support team is necessary. It should comprise of IT experts, both hardware and software, a chat support team, and a managing authority that closely monitors all issues.
The above pointers illustrate the steps of transition that a business needs to take in order to create a productive remote working system. It clearly guides you through the desired steps but the system itself is the most complex piece of the puzzle for the organization and its employees. Here are a few features and quirks that a remote working system must have in order to function without manual intervention and frequent visits to the company office.
The remote working system for your business should have agile workflow management that can adapt its strategy as per the changes in the workflow, tasks, and additional features. The system must be able to handle multiple projects at once with detailed information and a descriptive dashboard that provides a quick insight into what’s happening in which project.
The remote working system must have an analytics engine that observes the progress of every project. It can be then used to create comparison and performance logs that can be leveraged to bolster the productivity of the employees and smooth sailing of the project. Without an analytics engine, it’s very difficult to pinpoint hurdles and not make the same mistake with the next project. Analytics helps save the investment and provides predictions about the viability and completion time of the project.
The remote working system should be intuitive and rich in visual style and customizability options. The email needs to feel comfortable and not strain their eyes on a bleak looking interface. The user interface should be constantly improved and suggestions for future updates can be collected from the existing users of the system.
The remote working system must have an inbuilt module to chat and converse with team members about ongoing projects, issues at hand, and brainstorm the ideas to resolve them. One on one or group conversation, both should be available with features for audio and video messages and file-sharing of all types should be supported by the system.
Centralized file repository
A centralized file repository should be present inside the remote working system that holds every file generated during a project with clear details about upload date, time, project relationship, uploader name, and file permissions if any. The repository can be fully or partially accessible as per the discretion of top-level management.
Not everyone needs to have access to all the projects in motion in an organization. The remote working system should contain access levels that have to be granted by managers and team leaders to the employees as per their needs. This leads to more focus at work and less snooping around other projects.
The remote working system should be cloud-based, and most of them are to help in the automation of numerous services that would otherwise require manual effort. Cloud-based infrastructure inflicts less load on the user’s system as CPU-intensive work is done by the servers and not the user’s system. Cloud-based remote working systems have multiple backups in place in case a server location fails abruptly or is under scheduled maintenance.
The remote working system should have multiple views to display the project and its corresponding data. The most common method is using Kanban boards, Gantt charts, list views, timeline views, and much more. Not everyone is comfortable with a single approach so including a few of them or all can result in an effective overview with precise details of the active and completed tasks, members, and time spent in the project.
The remote working system should contain an integration module to use third-party applications and custom APIs if required. Not all functionalities need to be recreated but integrating them helps in easy sharing of data between the remote working system and the corresponding application.
Productivity is impeded if the remote employees are not active and continue to slack off during work hours. Active time tracking with a prompt notification, URL tracking should be implemented to keep track of the time spent by the employees in doing a task. The tracking logs can then be used to identify sluggish performers which can be then retrained and guided to catch up with the rest of the team.
For a business that deals with both field and remote workplace employees GPS tracking can be implemented with geo-fencing so that the presence of employees is detected while they are at the site and when they leave the site.
The time tracking feature can be manipulated to create an attendance module and shift scheduling system. It logs the hours put in each day, along with the presence and absence of each employee. Shift scheduling can be used to avoid any discrepancy regarding the work hours and project details.
The remote working system should have the latest security mechanisms in place to avoid unwanted intrusion. The security system must be able to safeguard and encrypt all the data inside the system so that even a data leak or theft makes it impossible to understand the project details.
The benefits of using a remote working system are as follows-
Save money on office locations
Expensive workspace with multiple services, approvals can be tedious and can cost a lot of money to build. An investment that is done on a physical workspace will wither away with time and take a lot of time to move the business into profit.
Focus more on productivity
Active time tracking and analysis of performance can be used to improve the work quality of the employees. This will improve the productivity of the team members in the long run as each project completion will give more insight into their work habits and scope of improvement.
With a remote working system, the commotion and confusion regarding a project are very minimal. Any issue can be taken up directly to the team leaders and manager for prompt resolving and not cause a halt in the workflow.
A time tracking module inside a remote working system can track the billable hours put in by the employees and generate timesheets accordingly. The timesheets can be in turn used to prepare invoices and automate payroll as per the services availed by the client.
In a remote working system, the next slot of interns and candidates can be selected based upon their familiarity with a remote working system. It will act as a filtration system that will separate efficient workers from lackluster ones. It also brings diversity to the workforce as more adroit professionals join the company in the future when physical presence is not a compulsion anymore.
Scouting the existing competition in the market can help you gain valuable insights into how you want the final product of your enterprise to be. Open integration support could do wonders for your remote working system and help it to extract data from existing services used by your organization such as google calendar, outlook, sheets, etc. The scalability of the system must be kept in mind as your business grows and the work intensifies. These suggestions can help you in constructing a useful and reliable remote working system that benefits you and your employees.