The Philippines and the rest of the world are facing a global pandemic with COVID 19. Philippine companies and its employees are facing the growing challenge of operating the business while in quarantine or total lock down.
Companies have started mobilizing their employees to work from home or work remotely as some employees are no longer able to travel to work. This emergency situation requires strategies and approaches that can help managers to stay connected with their growing remote workforce. The Department of Health of the Philippines has issued guidelines to help Philippine companies and their employees cope with the crisis.
LinkedIn and GitLab (the largest all-remote workforce in the world) collaborated to share below some short-term strategies for operating and building a remote workforce effectively. Darren (Head of remote) for Gitlab shares his insights.
Short-term: How to successfully transition to a temporary remote workforce
1. Establish a remote leadership team
According to Darren (head of remote) for GitLab, shifting an entire division or company to remote can trigger a shockwave of change. “To help mitigate this, start by evaluating current managers and rally a team of experts who have remote work experience. These people should be able to communicate nuances and serve as resources to those who will inevitably have questions”, says Darren.
2. Create a “source of truth” handbook to keep everyone in the loop
This can be rudimentary to start, but will serve as a single source of truth for the pressing questions. You’ll need to communicate this company-wide, says Darren, and update it continually with DRIs for common questions around tools and access. This will serve you well even after the current crisis subsides.
One of the most significant challenges for a remote workforce is keeping everyone in the loop in an efficient way.
3. Set up a formal (and informal) communication plan
Develop and acclimatize your team with your communication plan to enable everyone to communicate formally AND informally. Depending on team size, consider creating an always-on video conference room per team, where team members can linger, or come and go as they please. “This simulation helps acclimation, enabling team members to embrace the shift to remote in a less jarring way,” says Darren.
Whatever your current view on transparency, Darren says leaders should not hold back during this time. “It's vital to maintain perspective through this shift,” he says. “Everyone reacts to remote work differently, and not all homes are ideal workspaces.”
4. Minimize your software tools
While functioning remotely, your company should minimize the software and tools used to a minimum. Google Docs; a company-wide chat tool (like Microsoft Teams or Slack); and Zoom or another video conferencing platform are all you need to start. If your team needs access to internal systems through a VPN, ensure that everyone has easy access and instructions on usage are clear. And ensure remote support and user documentation is accessible as well.
“Working well remotely requires writing things down,” says Darren. “For companies who do not have an existing culture of documentation, this will prove to be the most difficult shift. So aim to funnel communication into as few places as possible to reduce silos and fragmentation.”
5. Drive cultural change
Leaders will have to meet the challenges of this cultural change of remote work. An all-hands approach to recognizing the new reality (of not being in the office daily) is vital to empowering everyone to contribute to the success of a remote model.
Leaders are responsible for embracing the transition. Particularly for companies with strong "in-office cultures," it is vital for leadership to recognize that the remote transition is a process, not a instant switch to be flipped.
6. Enable remote recognition and empowerment
Leaders and managers will find it more difficult to recognize the contributions and effort of their employees who are working remotely. Finding ways to recognize and empower employees to work effectively will be crucial for a remote workforce.
We will cover the strategies for becoming a 100% remote company in the next blog post.
Stay safe and healthy while working remotely!