DENVER, CO, March 17, 2020 — In the last week, hundreds of companies have mandated work-from-home policies, sending thousands of workers home with laptops and a hope for stable wifi. The COVID-19 viral disease is now officially a pandemic, per the World Health Organization, so the number of home-based workers will only increase in the days and weeks to come.
This mass exodus from the office has exposed a vulnerability in many companies. Some companies have remote work plans in place, but many do not. As more and more companies mandate that employees work from home, it’s clear that organizations need to have remote work policies in place for emergency situations like the current coronavirus health crisis, but also for situations of extreme weather or security concerns.
“Virtual work has been on the rise for years, but this is new territory for so many workers. It’s put a spotlight on the need for work-from-home preparation, policies and training,” said Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center, author of Virtual Teams for Dummies and founder of Virtual Team School. “Virtual work has amazing benefits – a nimble, highly productive work environment, great flexibility, lower operational costs, increased diversity and more. But those benefits are only possible when the right strategies are in place.”
According to Powers, there are several essential strategies for virtual work success. These strategies include having a company infrastructure that supports virtual work, making sure that there is technology support, establishing communication and connection agreements and having leadership buy-in.
“Having so many home-based employees without agreements in place can create confusion. Most of these newly-remote workers – and the companies they work for — are not prepared,” said Powers. “At a minimum, teams should be establishing agreed upon communication practices immediately. Check-ins throughout the day, creating ways to connect beyond email and text.”
With a global pandemic declared, this home-based workforce will likely be in place for weeks or months. Powers advises working collaboratively to establish six key team agreements right away:
1. Communication – establishing appropriate communication protocols – what to use, and when to use it. This includes email, text, phone, video, Slack channels, etc. (consider level of risk for misunderstandings and emotions before you choose)
2. Connection – creating connection on a personal level and ensuring the team connects on more than work topics.
3. Conflict – determine how teams will manage conflict and disagreements before they escalate
4. Technology – establish the tools used for tracking time, project progress, team updates, messaging, document security, etc.
5. Meetings – create expectations and rules around meetings (ex. sharing leadership role, creating and distributing agendas ahead of time, cameras on, use of collaborative tools)
6. Availability – determine service level agreements (SLAs) for response times; ensure that people don’t feel that they have to always be “on”
At Powers Resource Center our passion is creating a culture of connection by developing emotionally intelligent leaders and truly cohesive teams. We believe in the radical idea that your career should bring you joy, fulfillment and move you out of your comfort zone. Our goal is to be your trusted partner that brings fresh insights, strategic thinking and straightforward, honest advice to help you build a thriving, agile workplace. Over the past 20 years, we’ve worked with more than 300 companies and thousands of executives, managers, internal trainers, emerging leaders and teams to create a culture that gets them excited and delivers results. Get to know us at https://powersresourcecenter.com.
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