Managing and Supporting Your Remote Workforce During the COVID-19 Crisis: 6 Best Practices
Many of us have been experiencing the blurred lines of working from home and living at work. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work and live. Even as we begin to re-open, remote work will continue to be a preferred option for many and a requirement for some.
If your organization felt unprepared for the increased demand for remote support tools, you weren’t alone—but there are five best practices to help you ensure business continuity.
Best Practice #1: Educate Employees On Best Practices for Their Home Technology Environment
Regardless of the quality of an organization’s technical infrastructure, business operations during the shift to remote work are limited by employees’ home networks.
Here are basic steps to help educate employees about best practices for optimizing home networks.
- Understand your network
There are a few terms you’ll need to know to help optimize your network and improve the quality of your internet speed:
- Internet Service Provider (ISP): An organization that provides services for accessing and using the Internet
- Modem: A device that sits between a computer and wall or cable box. It brings Internet into your house
- Router: A small device that sits between your modem and computer; directs internet connection to all of the computers, tablets, mobile phones and other devices that employees have on hand
- Ethernet cables: Cables that connect your modem to your router
- Know how much speed to expect
The speed of an Internet connection depends on the service you have from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). When you signed up for Internet service, you likely subscribed to a package with a given number of megabits per second (Mbps). This number is the benchmark that will help you diagnose issues with internet speed.
Your speed will be limited by both the ISP service package and the networking equipment you are using in your home. A slow wireless router or WiFi connectivity can bottleneck your speed even if you have a great ISP internet package.
- Discover how much speed you’re getting
Running a speed test will help you know if you are getting the WiFi speeds you are paying for. You can easily check your speed at speedtest.net. You’ll see your download and upload speeds there.
- Evaluate the need to upgrade your modem, router, and ethernet cabling
If the speed test shows that your connection is significantly slower than what was promised, many different factors could be coming into play. Like computers and mobile devices, new WiFi equipment models are released regularly. While you don't need to immediately update your equipment to keep your home network running, you could be missing out on improved services if you continue to use older models.
If you and your team members find home network connections are too slow, it may also be necessary to upgrade firmware or segment your networks.
Best Practice #2: Deploy Cloud-Based Tools for Communication, Productivity, and Collaboration
From communication to project management, technology offers an abundance of options. Learn more about innovative tools your teams can use to communicate, collaborate, and produce with ease:
- Microsoft Azure: Used for savings, security and scalability, Azure is a public cloud-computing service that’s an ideal tool for building, testing, deploying and managing applications.
- Microsoft Teams: The fastest growing app in Microsoft’s history, Teams is a chat-based collaboration tool that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration.
- Microsoft Office 365: A collection of productivity applications that include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and are designed specifically to be used for office or business use.
- Microsoft Outlook: The most highly used email client for businesses today, Outlook is an email application that includes a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, and more.
- Microsoft Power BI: A business analytics solution that lets you visualize your data and share insights across your organization.
- Ring Central: The leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, Ring Central delivers secure, hosted phone and fax functionality over the Internet.
Best Practice #3: Understand the Importance of Social Interaction for Remote Teams
In the sudden shift to remote work and social distancing, it is important to intentionally build social interaction into work routines. Routine check-ins, in the form of one-on-one calls, team video meetings, or a combination of both, help establish a time and place for employees to voice concerns and questions. Having team members use video cameras during meetings helps build and maintain connections between team members.
While email and text messages might be a short-term solution, tools like Microsoft Teams are far better suited for collaboration and communication.
Video chats don’t have to be reserved for discussion about work. Non-work gatherings, like virtual books clubs or lunch-n-learns, can also provide opportunities for employees to share experiences and create community.
Best Practice #4: Build and Grow a Positive Company Culture for Remote Teams
Maintaining transparency across an organization through a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial for a positive company culture. The more business leaders communicate, even if there’s no new information to share, the more employee anxiety will be reduced. Maintaining a strong company culture is vital to keeping up morale and moving through challenging times.
A regularly scheduled company call is also a great way to:
- Model optimism and elevate morale
- Share examples of employees who demonstrate core values
- Distribute financial results and updates from business segments
You can also gain valuable insights and ideas for company call agenda items by allowing for anonymous feedback from employees and regularly measuring employee engagement.
Best Practice #5: Secure Your Systems Against Phishing, Hackers, and Attacks
Employees will be exposing company devices to greater risk as they leave the safety and security of the workplace. But working from home doesn’t have to expose employees to hackers. Here are simple steps you can take to limit the risk:
- Provide opportunities for security awareness training. Services like KnowBe4 helps organizations manage the IT security problems of social engineering, phishing and ransomware attacks.
- Require two-factor authentication to add a layer of security to the login process of online accounts.
- Implement endpoint security to automatically detect and prioritize security threats on devices.
- Protect your email infrastructure with a cloud-based email security service.
- Digitally sign emails so that the recipient can confirm the identity of the sender.
Best Practice #6: Take Advantage of Technology
ArcherPoint is committed to the safety and well-being of our customers, employees, and communities. We have always employed a remote workforce, and we are equipped to help our clients on their current projects.
Attend our webinar, 8 Ways to Leverage Dynamics NAV/Business Central During a Crisis, on June 24th at 2pm ET / 11am PT, to learn how to best leverage Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Business Central during this time.
Microsoft has also published some best practices information and launched an interactive forum for sharing more ideas: