Working from home or in a virtual workspace is an effective mode of productivity that offers many advantages in terms of stimulating creative systems and processes and the necessity for improved communications.
Leveraging technology to its fullest extent affords us an opportunity to continue operations and provision of service with minimal interruption, providing we plan, train and execute on some best practices.
1. Discuss the duties and workload of each staff member with their supervisor.
2. Determine what work can and cannot be done remotely; set priorities for work, expectations and deliverables.
3. Adjust HR guidelines as necessary, just because someone is working from home does not mean they won’t need a sick day. During this time parents with young children may still need to take time off to deal with family issues.
4. Think about resources, do staff need laptops and will the organization be paying phone bills if the organization determines they want a staff member to attend conference calls?
5. Design new processes for a virtual office. Will you start the day with a group text or Skype? How will receptionists or others without clearly defined work-from-home roles be employed? How will clients be served and what will be considered best practices?
6. Prepare your technology to work remotely:
a. set up email addresses and shared inboxes for communications;
b. Establish Cloud drives, Google Docs, drop boxes and other remote storage areas to share documents and work collaboratively;
c. Determine your video and voice telecommunications platforms, this may include Skype within your Microsoft/Outlook account or calls or video within Facebook Messenger.
7. Consider how you will employ staff that may appear to have a solely in-person job; there are many opportunities for file management, taking messages, managing email, setting up conference calls and other aspects of office management that can be over-looked as necessary in a virtual office, think about how you can continue to employ staff such as receptionists. Will you need a video editor and uploaded because you’re putting recorded meetings or training sessions on YouTube while you’re working in a virtual office? Consider how things will change in your workplace and plan for all eventualities before you decide to downsize your staff.
8. Be creative, working in a new way can provide new solutions to problems you may not even have realized you had and new ways of doing things, consider using video and social media more as communication tools.
9. Practice your new office procedures, it may make sense to take a day to get set up and do a run through or practice of your new virtual office procedures. It may be more challenging to be half online, half offline and serving customers in an ad hoc and inconsistent way were all the kinks haven’t been worked out, so consider taking a day to get set up, do a practice run on how your virtual office will run then open your virtual doors to customers after you’re certain you’re ready.
10. Focus and find balance. It can take some time to become accustomed to working from home, and some time to eliminate at-home distractions, work on promoting focus in each individual’s workspace and within your virtual workspace. Also consider sharing information and ideas as to finding balance for people who are new to working from home, so they maintain their physical and mental health.
Stay tuned, this work from home guide will be augmented by other suggested tools to help you optimize your virtual office, improve communication and employee relations and increase productivity.
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