The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions to start working remotely. Organizations that required employees to come in to work every day, suddenly found themselves thrown off balance. In addition to these sudden changes, they're now faced with the task of dealing with a workforce that had no choice except to become remote.
Working remotely, once considered a perk, has become a lifeline for organizations who want to stay in business in these challenging times. Yes, working remotely has become the new norm in organizations across the globe. But with that come some unique challenges:
Lack of clarity on work-related tasks
Uncertainty about what the future holds
Take for example: the COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on most IT teams in organizations as they figure out the right technology to enable their remote workforce to function and be productive. And that brings us to an urgent question that needs to be answered.
Is your organization able to offer the right kind of support to this "no choice" remote workforce?
5 Strategies to Help Strengthen Your "No Choice" Remote Writing Workforce
1. Define a Clear Communication Strategy
‘Communication’ has always been key for a successful workplace and will be, even more so, for a remote workforce as well. But with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the mantra is to COMMUNICATE…COMMUNICATE…COMMUNICATE! And all this, while maintaining social distancing!
When employees come in to work, it’s very easy to spot anxiety or burnout by simply looking at their faces. But that’s not possible in this ‘remote’ scenario. So, communicate frequently and regularly with your team to ‘feel their pulse’ – not only to find out how they are coping up with working remotely but also to tell them what’s going on with the company.
Plucked from the camaraderie of the workplace, your employees suddenly find themselves working at home–alone. This isolation can cause disengagement that needs to be quickly tackled. Tools such as Teams, Zoom, Webex, and Hangouts can help you stay connected with your team. Use them to communicate on day-to-day tasks and hold meetings (virtually), just as you would if you were in office.
2. Set Measurable Goals
COVID-19 has set off a change management reaction, but unlike a planned change management strategy, this one gives very little time – to set processes to proactively overcome the disruption.
It’s evident that only those who push themselves to change will survive. Organizations with traditional work and training practices are faced with the task of transforming themselves overnight just to stay in business. Many organizations have needed to switch to online methods – right from training their newly remote workforce to selling their products to potential customers.
With such a lot of change happening, you might have to take a long hard look at your organizational goals – if some of them need to be reinvented or shifted, or even discarded if that makes better business sense in these challenging times. Apart from business continuity, you need to also focus on training-continuity. After all, training is a very effective method to keep employees aligned to your organizational goals.
It would be a good idea to break up long-term goals into short-term ones. That can take the stress out of your remote workforce and help them prioritize their work.
3. Focus on the Big Picture
Trying to get things done while maintaining normal business operations in the face of a crisis, is a challenging task indeed. Not to forget, the additional pressure to find new channels to reach out to customers and prospects and trying different operational tactics, even when it feels like shooting in the dark. In short, organizations need to try anything and everything to keep the business afloat in the face of a shrinking world economy.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, we'd say, with every crisis there comes opportunity.
Leaders must step back and try to make sense of the current situation. Step away if you must, from the urgent but small, everyday problems that a business faces, but do not lose focus of the big picture.
Encourage your remote team to see the big picture too. Let them know the ‘why’ behind every ‘what’ they need to do. Empower them to make their own decisions and implement new ideas, as engaged employees can steer your organization out of these challenging times.
4. Celebrate the Small Wins
Often small mistakes make us feel bad but small wins don’t give us great highs! They can get overlooked easily, especially when employees are working remotely. And for an "no choice" remote workforce, this can get stressful. Your team is going to be more productive when they’re intrinsically motivated and feel appreciated.
Celebrating the small accomplishments of your team is a great way to motivate your remote workforce, giving them some much needed highs in this time of increasing lows. Perhaps it’s time for a virtual party or give your team a day off from work!
5. Provide Opportunities for Virtual Training
Unprecedented times like the present global coronavirus pandemic are when learning and development programs take a backseat. Organizations with more of face-to-face training are going to find it more difficult to get their training initiatives back on track as against many others with online training programs already in place.
Right from the small school in your neighborhood to the most prestigious universities in the world–everyone’s experimenting with online training. COVID-19 is not the time to press the pause button on learning and development programs for your employees. Switch to technology-enabled learning that can be continued outside the classroom. Use virtual classrooms, webcasts, audio- and videoconferencing, rapid eLearning, or any other form of digital learning to let your "no choice" remote workforce continue to learn… and be productive!
You WILL Overcome In These Challenging Times–and So Can Your Remote Writing Team!
It’s up to the leaders and managers to steer their remote writing teams through this difficult time and keep them engaged–and connected. If you're unsure about the effectiveness, progress, and strategies your organization should take concerning your remote teams, you are not alone! To learn more about remote writing team optimization and boosting your workflow during economic downtimes, we invite you to contact us for a free, one-on-one consultation to help you target your goals and stay on track–and add to your remote writing team!
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Fred is a Contributing Writer for Remote Writers Work and Exclusive SME Author for GS Solutions. As a digital nomad, he's worked for various organizations as a freelancer and supports recruitment events for startups globally.