The COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it. The time spent in quarantine with many Singaporeans working from home showed us the limitations and advantages of this working model. Most working adults work fully from home or only visit their office when necessary.
For example, you’ll spend less money on rent, utilities, and maybe even salaries. At the same time, you benefit from concentrated work, and more focused employees as those water-cooler talks are out of the picture.
But, if you manage remote work poorly, your employees may dawdle more or miscommunicate with each other.
Here’s how to avoid that:
Managing Employee Remote Work: The Preparations
These preparations will help your employees transition from a strict work environment to an informal one that can easily invite them to play hooky or disturb their in-sync connection.
Here are the steps you should follow:
1. Planning And Communication
You need a rigorous plan with enough flexibility to manage employees successfully. Then, you must communicate your expectations transparently and thoroughly.
Here are the essential points to cover:
– When the working from home programme starts
– When it will end
– What happens if COVID-19 becomes less widespread or dangerous
– If remote work starts in waves
– What employees will take part in each wave. At this point, you have to be very clear about requirements and vulnerability issues, such as age, pre-existing conditions and living with vulnerable family members/elderly family members.
– Make it clear which employees are vital for your business’s infrastructure and whether they’ll continue to work from the office. Do take note to explain how their time will be split if they worked part-time from the office and from home.
– Explain specific strategies of reducing risks for employees who continue to come to work
– Explain specific procedures in case essential employees get sick
2. The Right Tools
The primary advantage of office-based work is that all of your tools and equipment are there. The hardware and the software are all in one place; thus, each employee has what they need right at their fingertips.
That’s where things get complicated with remote work: Do you want to manage employees so they can work efficiently? You need to ensure the right equipment.
That’s easy to do in some cases. For example, if you’re running a telemarketing company, each employee needs a laptop and the right software.
But what if you’re running a private school?
Some teachers don’t have all the tools they need at home. For instance, Physical Education or Music teachers have it much harder than others. So, here are the questions to ask yourself at this point:
– What tools – both hardware and software-related – do my employees need to get their job done?
– What can I provide?
– What tools can my employees get for themselves?
– How can I ensure my employees get the hardware they need to their homes safely?
– Who is liable if they damage that hardware? E.g., consider that your employees may have small children or pets that can mess with that equipment.
– What software do my employees need?
– Can I reconsider my team’s software needs to save money and streamline the work?
– What is the best online communication tool to ensure my team members are in sync with each other?
– What is the best online tool for conferences, video calls, and meetings?
3. The Proper Level Of Security
It’s easier to manage employees and data security from the office because everyone’s in that same place. Therefore, it’s more difficult for your business to be hacked or for vital information to leak.
You’re planning to launch a new product, and it’s something completely innovative that uses an entirely new approach in your market.
Think the equivalent of pineapple pizza or push-up pants but for your industry.
But just as you’re talking about it in a meeting, an employee’s partner overhears your strategy, and they can’t help but tell it to their parents or close friends.
Or, your crucial employee’s noisy neighbour decides to hack their VPN out of boredom.
That’s how vital information gets leaked, and the competition gets wind of your idea.
Here’s how to solve this potential problem:
– Enforce strict GDPR protocols.
– Ensure your team uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for work communication and data sharing.
– Explain and enforce a strict clean screen/ desk policy. As its name suggests, your employees who work from home must keep all their documents hidden from the people they live with. This policy is even more critical if your employees are allowed to work from a public place, like a restaurant or café, where information can be stolen or leak easier.
4. Focus On Health And Safety
Remote work is a crucial strategy for stopping the COVID-19 pandemic as face-to-face contacts are minimised. However, remote work involves other health and safety problems you have to consider.
For example, what if your employees get injured? Will working in front of a computer for more extended hours increase their stress levels? Do they have ergonomic furniture that prevents chronic back pain?
So as you can see, you’ll have to check and take responsibility for a slew of factors you didn’t even know were your responsibility in the first place. Here’s what to start with:
– Fire safety and possible electrical hazards. E.g., in case your employee’s outlets can’t withstand specific hardware
– Any personal injuries during work hours caused – or not – by the work people do for you. E.g., if a piece of hardware isn’t well set up, it can injure an employee. Conversely, another person can slip while they’re on the way to the bathroom.
– Stress management because teleworking can cause what’s called Zoom fatigue. Besides, lone working has a slew of implications for mental health, especially if some of your employees are living alone.
– The work environment must be appropriate both for your employees and your hardware.
How To Manage Employees Working From Home: The Real Deal
Once you have these things in place, you must focus on strategies that keep your staff productive, efficient, and healthy. So, your employees:
1. Must be in perfect sync
2. Know what their job is
3. Work in a calm environment
Each employee should know their role perfectly well because otherwise, they’ll waste time. Obviously, you knew that.
So what’s changed?
Remote work can minimise or erase some responsibilities and put more emphasis on others. For instance, your web designer and your accountant won’t butt heads. But you have to consider how each employee’s work changes and communicate your expectations.
The idle chit-chats you have with your colleagues. A significant part of office time is spent socialising, doing meetings, or popping over to someone else’s desk to borrow pens. You take lunch breaks and coffee breaks.
So, a nine-hour day is interrupted by these small activities that have a significant purpose in helping employees bond and get in sync with each other.
Here’s what happens when you’re working from home:
You know exactly what to do, and you don’t want to waste time. You have everything you need in the room with you, so you tend to take fewer breaks.
So, basically, you have to rethink your employees’ workload:
What tasks they should perform
– Whether they can choose their own hours or not
– How many hours/day are they expected to work – remember that you shouldn’t ask your employees to feel like they’re on call 24/7
As the workload changes, the performance indicators change as well. Besides, depending on your industry, people can be expected to perform better or worse. For example, a content writer can focus better and achieve more while working from home than a personal trainer or swim coach.
Here’s what to do:
– When deciding those indicators, evaluate the objective conditions of your industry
– Take into account everyone’s roles
– Reconsider your goals
– Construct quantifiable and realistic indicators
– Be prepared for flexibility
– Communicate your expectations and indicators carefully
Technical support is essential in remote work in case people’s computers or tools break down. You never know when your employee might need a new laptop or tablet for his/her work. So, consider:
– Who will ensure tech support?
– How will tech support help employees?
– What time will tech support be available?
– What if more employees need help at the same time?
Training For Managers
There is always something to learn. Training your managers appropriately is essential because telework has different challenges and expectations from office work. The same management concepts cannot be applied.
So, even the best project managers must be prepared for these new conditions to ensure your employees’ productivity, health, and happiness.
Managing employees’ remote work is challenging because you have to consider a slew of issues that you haven’t confronted yourself with before. But with lots of dedication, patience, and organisation, you’ll arrange efficient teleworking conditions.
Transitioning from office work to remote work will require some extra funds, such as purchasing the right hardware and software and training your managers. You may also need business financial assistance to reorganise your work environment.
MPM Capital is one of the most flexible business loan providers in Singapore. We offer customized business loans that can help entrepreneurs. For example, we provide tuition centre business loans, pet shop business loans, pre-school and kindergarten business loans and more.
We are able to provide the funds business owners need in their transition to working from home. For large business loans, apply with MPM Capital now!