Leadership needs to define a goal
When implementing remote working, business leaders must first define a goal. COVID-19 is no goal in itself. Company leaders need to ask why they want to implement remote working beyond the demands of the current crisis. Is the aim to reduce office space? Can it be used to optimize commuting, or introduce more flexibility into the corporate culture? Etc.
Once the goal is defined, the first step starts with adapting leadership to the new way of working. Business leaders need to set up a set of practices to be able to communicate clearly with employees and stakeholders. For example, by actively reaching out to their teams on a frequent basis, optimizing the calendars, planning regular feedback rounds, … Communication should be quicker and much more frequent. This improves collaboration and builds the necessary trust to successfully roll out new ways of working.
A set of clear guidelines are needed to help employees deal with this new way of working: not only why, but also what and how. This guidance must also be reflected in an adjusted HR policy. Remote working is here to stay, so it does not suffice to focus on short-term solutions. Successful companies also plan for the long term and adapt their corporate culture accordingly. In fact, the entire business needs to be operated virtually, for employees, suppliers and other members of the ecosystem.
Using the right tools for a good migration
When choosing appropriate tools, it is important to first look at what is already available. If the company needs to act quickly, the tools already available can get you well ahead on the road to full adoption. If they are not available, or they turn out not to be applicable or effective, then there are some user-friendly short-term solutions that companies can install and that contain all the needed features. Always look at what the company needs, not at what is most popular. Every business culture is different and may need different tools to keep productivity high.
The next step is to build on this. Start the process of adoption. Organize training moments for employees, spread them over several days, listen to the feedback, adapt where necessary, ... This way of structural implementation is essential. Remote working is an investment. Do not rush, but build step by step.
Maintain good employee sentiment for good collaboration
It is important for companies to keep track of employee sentiment during the rollout of structural remote working. Company leaders should pay attention to the impact a lack of physical contact has on people. Only when employees work remotely do they fully realize the added value of physical contact.
Companies need to stimulate cooperation between colleagues and monitor togetherness. Consciously planned off-time moments such as virtual coffees or 'bring your kids to work' sessions give teams the opportunity to connect with each other. It is no coincidence that silly games, video sharing and virtual after-work drinks are doing so well these days: they are a way to ventilate emotions and share them with colleagues.