Remote Work Challenges During the COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled COVID-19 (coronavirus) as a pandemic. As of March 30, 2020, there are over 730,000 cases around the world. The situation is rapidly evolving – leaving the majority of countries and territories under a state of emergency – meaning individuals must stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing, and only leave the house for essentials.

You and your team have likely felt the impact of the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Right now, non-essential businesses of all types around the world are forced to close their doors or work remotely during this difficult time. Unfortunately, remote work is a relatively unfamiliar concept for many individuals. This means that navigating cybersecurity threats, collaboration concerns, and a lack of physical interaction while working can be difficult for teams.

How Will You Avoid Work Disruptions During This Difficult Time?

If you don’t already have a remote work strategy in place, it’s time to put one together to avoid work disruptions during this difficult time. Here’s a few of the most common challenges associated with embracing a remote workforce and how to address them:

1. Your Team Lacks the Right Technology Foundation

If your employees haven’t worked from home before, they may lack the technology foundation necessary to stay productive. This includes:

  • A strong internet connection with enough bandwidth to accommodate workloads.
  • Up-to-date devices, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
  • Additional accessories, such as high-quality webcams and head-sets.

Our recommendation is to issue company-owned devices whenever possible. This ensures that all devices in use will be up-to-date, reliable, and secure. If this isn’t possible, consider the following options:

  • A virtual private network (VPN) that lets your employees connect to the network via a secure, encrypted tunnel to keep sensitive data safe.
  • A VoIP business phone that allows your team to access their work line from home via their smartphone with enterprise-grade features.
  • A virtual desktop infrastructure that lets your employees access their work computers from the comfort of their own home.

If internet connectivity is a problem, consider offering your employees an upgraded internet plan or data plans so they’re able to tether their desktops or laptops to their mobile devices.

2. Your Team Lacks Adequate Collaboration Tools

Sure, email and mobile devices work when an employee is working out of the office for a day or two, but in the long-term, collaboration tools will be necessary to allow your team to share files, video chat, edit documents together in real-time, and much more. Microsoft Teams is a great choice as it enables you to:

  • Work together on files with the ability to share, access, and edit in real-time.
  • Video conference or group chat with up to 10,000 people at a time.
  • Keep sensitive information safe with advanced security controls.
  • Communicate with one another with instant messaging, scheduled meetings, etc.
  • And much, much more.

Microsoft Teams is available within any Microsoft Office 365 plan. If you’re not already signed up, Microsoft is offering a FREE 6-month trial of Microsoft Office 365 E1 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A few other great options for video conferencing and chat in particular include:

  • Skype
  • GoToMeeting
  • Zoom
  • Slack

3. Your Team is Struggling with the Lack of Oversight

For those who aren’t used to working from home, it’s a difficult transition, especially due to the lack of oversight from management. You can assist employees who are struggling with the following:

  • A clearly outlined remote work policy that covers hours expected, expectations regarding communication, and a regularly scheduled weekly or daily check-in via video chat.
  • A commitment to ensuring they have remote support from a team of trusted technology professionals like HitsTech who can handle the majority of troubleshooting remotely.
  • A cloud-based project management tool such as Basecamp, Asana or another similar option that lets you organize their day-to-day priorities and keep them on track.

Keep in mind, it’s important to provide opportunities for socialization as well. Although we’re limited in terms of face-to-face contact, Microsoft Teams or a similar solution can be used to encourage employees to eat lunch together, stay in touch with one another, and hold regular “coffee meet-ups” virtually to keep morale up.

If you need a hand transitioning to a remote workforce, get in touch with us at (828) 695-9440 now.

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