Temporarily transitioning your team from in-house to remote is one thing; making it permanent is another and requires additional planning.
Most office employees are working remotely these days, at least temporarily. But what happens after COVID-19 is under control? Will all or most of your workforce remain remote?
If your company is thinking, yes, then consider these four things to make the transition successful.
Before taking the leap, take a close look at your company structure and culture to see if it will be a smooth transition or if there are some fundamental changes that need to be made. Factor in the size of your company and if your leadership team has a mindset that aligns with a remote workforce environment. If you’re not sure this will work, your leadership team will need to do some further analysis and strategic planning, including assessing its current operational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Recognize that there will be other pandemics or unforeseen business disruptions in the future. It may require more effort to permanently transition your workforce or partial workforce to remote; however, it may be a strategically sound opportunity to do it now rather than get caught off guard again.
While some of your existing processes may have been simpler to accommodate, not all of them will easily support a remote workforce. This is a good time to conduct a thorough business process analysis to find process improvements that will work for a remote team. Conducting annual business process improvements (BPI) on a regular basis makes sense. It’s the only way to know where bottlenecks are and what is no longer working. When conducting this analysis, each process should be looked at as though there is no in-house staff, asking yourself what would be done differently.
Technologies and infrastructure
Most of the processes mentioned above are facilitated by some form of technology. With so many as-a-service technologies available, any size company can afford to leverage software and hardware on a pay-as-you-go basis. This technology model is typically available in the cloud through secure web-portals and makes it possible for most companies to hire and train teams to handle projects and processes remotely. Many SaaS solutions these days enable things such as project management, portfolio management, scheduling, collaboration, workflow management, email, marketing, customer service, and more. The key to a successful remote team is giving members the right tools to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
Although most employees can be hired or transitioned to working remotely, not every employee will be cut out for remote work. Some employees may not work well alone or may not be productive, and there may also be skills gaps. It’s important to first understand your processes and then take a look at your workforce to see if there are employees who already struggle with being productive without supervision. This is a tough part. Your company may not be able to easily transition all of its workforce without additional training or, unfortunately, letting go of some staff. Before letting any staff go, consider the different types of training, setting performance goals and measurements, and talk with your employees about what is being contemplated.
Moving to a remote team model can work for most companies, but it is a complex task for larger companies and not necessarily workable for all situations. Manufacturers, assembly lines, grocers, hospitals, care centers, or other businesses need in-house teams. If your company is fortunate enough to be able to make the switch to a remote workforce, then make sure to weigh culture, processes, infrastructure, technologies, and talent first.