Remote Workforce: Immediate personnel management considerations

It is important to recognize that, in addition to management challenges, employees are adjusting to the new work-at-home environment.  Prioritizing on employee needs is imperative to enabling them to support clients and other business operations.  Ideally, a business continuity plan should be in place in advance of a major business disruption that outlines processes and procedures to accommodate and manage a remote workforce.  If not, a business continuity plan should be developed and documented as new processes and procedures are implemented for use near-term and in the event of a future crisis.

Such a plan should establish equipment and platforms to facilitate the mental health, social, and business interactions needed by employees to maintain their productivity.  A key necessity for management is to conduct regular leadership communication with employees. Such communication should convey the priority to provide needed support to the employees – including things such as new policies, workspace, technology, and productivity issues.   Many technology platforms, such as video conference and instant messaging, can help remote teams to communicate and collaborate.

In addition to regular communication from leadership, companies should also make sure employees hear from other key departments during a crisis.  Open and honest communications about needs is should take place across managers and staff.  For example, employees should feel comfortable advising management that they need to attend to certain needs of their children.  Flexibility, trust, and measurable business objectives are key.  Although managers can have a natural tendency to want to see people in the office working with structured hours, they need to modify their approach to enable remote employees to make adjustments and workarounds to accommodate home- and family-related interruptions.  Measurable business objectives help to facilitate flexibility and the ability to focus on results rather than visible hours worked.