At the outset of the COVID pandemic, many businesses began fully remote operations hoping for a relatively prompt return to normal. But in the months since then, we’ve all had to adjust and evolve to what normal will look like in a post-COVID working world.
While many of the realities of this “new normal” remain up in the air, one certainty is that a lot more work will continue to happen remotely even after the pandemic has subsided. For proof points, look to the workplace precedent-setters in Big Tech. In May, Twitter told its employees they could work from home forever. Facebook shortly followed suit. Microsoft and Amazon are extending optional remote work until October and will reevaluate then.
These companies don’t just power workplace solutions; they set the tone for how we work. Their moves portend the rise of remote work as a new workplace standard — and this is our trial run.
3 tips to drive remote success
For business leaders — especially those responsible for defining and overseeing business processes — the evolution of remote work into an operational imperative requires thoughtful management.
And while your company likely doesn’t have the resources of an Amazon or Twitter to seamlessly support an immediate shift, with the right leadership moves you can make the transition more effectively.
Here are the three steps all businesses can take to set themselves up for remote success:
- Listen to your frontline and accommodate their working preferences. It goes without saying that successful businesses put employees first. But as many companies struggle with huge budget shortfalls and the need for contingency planning, they risk sidelining company culture and employee morale. That is the wrong move. If there was ever a litmus test for corporate culture, COVID is it. If you make impulsive or ill-conceived cultural decisions now, you could face insurmountable reputational losses long-term.
You can avoid this outcome by continuing to listen to frontline employees and making an earnest effort to accommodate their remote work preferences. By soliciting continuous frontline feedback and encouraging meaningful top-down communication, you can identify what’s working and what isn’t in a remote setting. Do your employees feel they’re getting a coherent top-down message about company decisions during COVID? Do they want more flexible remote working hours to accommodate childcare or other obligations? These are concerns you can solicit and address with a continued frontline focus.
- Get your processes in check. Effective process management has never been more important than right now. Without clearly articulated and consistent business processes, your business won’t be able to establish the control and visibility needed to maintain successful remote operations.
Establishing effective processes begins with finding the right process platform. When vetting process tools, prioritize solutions that offer intuitive and flexible process optimization across the business. Particularly in a remote setting, your company’s process tools can’t just be the purview of IT — they need to be easy and customizable enough for all departments to use.
- Support remote wellness: The COVID pandemic is a moment of collective trauma, and working remotely can compound feelings of loneliness and isolation. As an enterprise, it’s not your responsibility to individually manage grief and sadness. But it is important to create an environment where employees feel supported. From encouraging mental health days to holding remote meditation sessions to pointing employees toward virtual therapy, you need to adopt a proactive wellness stance.
As the pandemic continues to challenge the working world, it also presents a chance to work more effectively remotely. As we all adapt to a new way of working, companies that treat this challenge as an opportunity for operational improvement will be best-positioned to succeed in the years ahead.