Having the sizable workforce spread across multiple offices is already a big challenge in itself when it comes to communication and overall efficiency, compared to having your employees working in one optimised office workspace. A bigger challenge is to have your workforce working from the comfort of their homes with all the infinite number of possible distractions around them.
“How can I make sure this gets done? I can walk to her desk, or maybe quickly her call now. Or I can send her an email to keep track of my request. Hmmm… I will send an instant message for immediate feedback. Or maybe I will do it later…”
Does the above thought typical process sound familiar? Well, these situations are amplified even more with a remote workforce and it can lead to inefficiencies and lost time.
There are various key considerations when planning for your workforce to work away from your offices with the aim to keep a high productivity level. This is a non-exhaustive list:
- Home Workspace – It is imperative for your employees to find/create a distraction-free environment inside their homes where they can focus almost exclusively on work activities. This is the foundation for the subconscious part of the mind to isolate itself from the personal activities typically happening at home.
- Internet Connectivity – It is essential to have a stable and reliable internet connection since this will most likely be the dependency for most communication tools.
- Portable Devices – You need to decide if to let your employees take company-owned laptops (or other portable device types) to their homes or let them use their personal devices. There are several considerations on this one, including trust and security.
- Data Security – Sensitive data outside of your company network can be challenging to manage. You need to properly consider where the data resides, classify the data by risk categories, understand how the employees have access to it and how the data flows. Then you would be able to take the appropriate decisions on how and what tools to use to protect your data from getting misused or leaked to the wrong hands.
- Flexible Time Allocation – You need to make sure employees allocate the needed time in their day to align with other teams. Fixed daily meeting time slots can help here to keep the required working pace flowing. It is good to let employees work at a time they are most productive at (e.g., afternoons), but it is important to make it clear they need to be available at specific times to align with their peers.
- Collaboration Tools – Using the right tool for each collaboration and process flow is crucial. Employees need to be provided with the right collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Outlook for emails, Microsoft Teams or Slack for instant messaging, Atlassian JIRA for tasks and resource management. Most importantly, they need to be given clear instructions on exactly how and when to use each tool to be most efficient.
- Monitoring – In order to understand if employees are doing their work, one can consider implementing some remote monitoring tools. Such tools can help visualise the time each employee spends on each application on his devices as well as more details activities on each action.
- Performance Metrics – Apart from monitoring user activity, it is important to measure the productivity of employees working in a remote setup by setting up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for their tasks. This can be something as simple as tracking the number of sales in or the number of calls done in a day. This can be compared to “working from office” figures to gauge differences in performance.
- Training – With team members being spread separately, it is harder for information to flow between people. You need make sure training sessions, both formal and informal, are regularly kept on going to improve knowledge transfer on all levels.
- Provide Support – It is common for employees to have more frequent issues using their systems when they are away from office. A well-defined means of support (via email, or ticketing system, or phone, etc.) can really help employees report issues and get back on track on their work quicker.
- Increase Communication – Management needs to accept the fact that people working remotely will be more detached from their peers and from the overall company direction. More frequent and structured communication from management should happen when compared to a “work from office” setup to keep everyone’s efforts focused on the right company-set direction.
- Leverage the Cloud – If you are unprepared for having your workforce work remotely, there are a variety of cloud-based cost-favourable options which can be implemented. Such solutions can be outsourced and set up in a matter of days most of the time without any big upfront investments.
This might seem like a long list of preparations and considerations. However, the reality is that the company workflow undercurrents and team dynamics would operate in a totally unique way when you have a remote workforce. If these aspects are not covered at least to a certain confidence level, the business can be at risk of losing control on its efficient productivity that can have a tangible impact on the set targets. Make sure you are prepared and willing to adapt to new workflows to maintain the competition’s edge.
By Jonathan Spiteri
Jonathan Spiteri is our Head of Infrastructure based in Malta. He holds a Masters degree in Information Technology and possesses multiple hands-on certifications on cloud, virtualisation, Windows and Linux. Jonathan’s key focuses are IT operations, development, problem-solving, large-scale IT-design and implementation focusing on innovation, automation, efficiency, team growth and mentoring.
He has 20 years of experience in multiple industries including government agencies, telecommunication, web application security, online casino gaming, online video streaming and banking. His experience has given him a clear perspective across the business, where he can guide the GPG teams towards the right choices, putting the group of businesses at a clear competitive advantage.