How to Get Your Business Ready for Remote Work

Yesterday it was business as usual. Today your employees work from home. It’s a hard, unexpected transition for most people. Here’s how you can keep your socially distanced workforce engaged.

For some industries and businesses, working remotely is not a new thing. Workplace trends researcher, Regus Canada reported that in 2017, 47% of Canadians were working remotely for at least half the week. At the time, there could be no way of knowing how critical and valuable those remote work technologies would become in 2020. 

To be able to follow COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing health guidelines and reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus, employers and employees are choosing to work from home. And while policies and arrangements will vary from industry to industry, the following are some overarching best practices to adapt to new remote-working set-up.

For Employers

Establish Policies

Start by reviewing already existing, and relevant policies, such as your health and safety policies, and adapt them to the COVID-19 guidelines as outlined by the Government of Canada, or according to your province’s guidelines.

Other policies to revise might include: 

  • How to manage confidentiality and handling of sensitive information? 
  • What documents leave the office and which ones have to stay? 
  • What equipment do your employees need to “borrow” to set up a remote work space in which they can be productive?
  • What new network security procedures and processes have been put in place?

Technology and Security

Part of staging remote work involves not only taking inventory of equipment that leaves your office, but also ensuring that any employee using non-company issued equipment is security verified.

Employers can use their own in-house IT professionals, or hire professionals to ensure a seamless transition to a remote working environment, and make sure that proper security measures are in place. Security steps might include: 

  • Keep devices close-by
  • Use secure Wi-Fi connections
  • Employ the latest applications and operating systems
  • Use antivirus software
  • Use a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Create strong, diverse passwords
  • Do not click suspicious email or links
  • Report any red flags to IT or management
  • Use trusted sources for COVID-19 information

Here are other useful tools to address cybersecurity.

Employers needing to craft remote workplace policies can find helpful information at the following links:

LinkedIn Learning: New to Working Remotely? These Resources Can Help

OwlLabs: The Comprehensive Guide to Remote Work

OwlLabs: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Remote Work, Flexible Schedule, and Working From Home Policies

Tripwire: Working From Home During Covid-19? What You and Your Organization Need to Consider

For Team Leaders & Managers

Your team will be looking to you for guidance and cohesion, and some semblance of normalcy during this unprecedented time. Here are some helpful steps in establishing guidelines for the coming time:

Make a plan

Help individuals set goals and priorities for the coming weeks. Arrange a way to track progress and deadlines. 

Check-in regularly

Daily or weekly check-ins on video conferencing are good ways to connect with your team. This is your chance to relay organizational updates, also. If you are going to utilize online tools that track progress, such as Trello, ensure everyone has access and understands how to use them. 

Schedule time for questions & feedback 

Set aside a time of day specifically designated for remote workers to ask questions and give feedback. This helps to minimize long email threads and phone calls, while making sure employees feel heard. 

Manage performance and practice recognition 

To ensure employees working remotely are not out of sight, out of mind, it is important to remember to give recognition and thank employees for their contributions. If employees are not meeting work expectations from home, sending an email or having a conversation can be a good way to find out what is happening behind the scenes.  

Make time for personal connection 

Maintaining good mental health during this time might be the most important thing we do. Encourage and make arrangements for employees to connect with colleagues through online measures. If you have resources for mental wellness, ensure employees have access to that information and knowledge. 

Tips on managing isolation while working remotely can be found here: 

For Employees

Every individual has their own way to be productive. Here are some ways to ensure a healthy transfer of employee work habits to their new setting:

Encourage routine

Routine can be the key to success for most of us; however, working from home can be disruptive. Encourage employees to stick to a regular morning tasks, and even to get dressed to “go to work.” Maybe their daily “commute” turns into a walk instead or a meditation—not a bad trade-off!

Create daily & weekly schedule

Encourage employees to create their own daily and weekly schedules to stay on task and meet deadlines, and to set up a dedicated work space to separate work from non-work life. 

Get moving  

During breaks, walking, stretching, and any other form of exercise are encouraged to stay physically and mentally healthy. 

Voice & video communications 

It is healthy to increase social interaction using voice and video communications during this time of isolation. The last thing you want is your team getting lonely! Encourage leaders and managers to institute regular contact using these mediums. 

The following are resources to help employees with their transition:

NPR: 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You

BBC: How to Work From Home, The Right Way

Hubspot: How to Work From Home: 20 Tips From People Who Do It Successfully

And lastly, remind your employees and your leadership team that this set up is not forever. Other invaluable software tools for business owners looking for a smooth remote-work transition include the following:

Udemy has a free course on Best Practices for Working Remotely.

Project Management

Internal communications
Microsoft Teams

Video Conferencing

Making the shift to remote operations and the corresponding new processes is difficult. We are facing extraordinary new challenges and stresses. Take your time. Be patient with yourself and your team members as you create your new normal

Chambers Plan

Chambers Plan

Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan is Canada’s #1 employee benefits plan for small business. Chambers Plan has been protecting Canadian firms for over 40 years. As a not-for-profit, any surpluses are reinvested to the Plan to support industry-leading stability. That's why more than 30,000 small to midsize businesses trust Chambers Plan to protect their employees.