As cities and states begin a slow but sure reopening, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new norm for businesses around the country. More employees will continue to work from home (WFH) despite the reopening. And, small businesses are starting to make adjustments to accommodate and support this trend. Recently Facebook has started planning for permanent work from home workforce.
Pivoting to a WFH workforce can dramatically change the way your business operates. When it is managed well it can be effective and does not have to be a daunting task for you and your business. A critical part of these efforts is to ensure that the workplace remains productive and that important small business communication tools remain secure. Here are 10 tips for pivoting to a WFH workforce.
1. Security first
One of the biggest concerns for small businesses is the security of their confidential data and communication tools. The WFH workforce is at a higher risk of security threats and breaches since many have to work using their home Wifi or internet connection. Therefore, your small business has to be compliant with any regulations for collecting and storing important private information and data from customers and clients. On top of that, you have to ensure any systems you operate on or utilize have updated security software and OS patches.
A small business VoIP phone system is ideal for WFH workforces where employees are located in various locations. VoIP phone systems that run on a Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol or a similar secure authentication protocol encrypts incoming messages to ensure that only authorized personnel has access to them. Protecting all communication within the WFH workforce and external customers are essential to staying secure with a dynamic and remote workforce.
2. Stay connected with your Work from Home workforce with a cloud-based system
Cloud-based systems and services are ideal for growth and expansion. In addition, moving to the cloud also has many additional benefits. One of the key benefits is that it gives you and your WFH workforce immediate and mobile access to important business data and information anywhere, anytime. Cloud-based VoIP phone systems are flexible and scalable and provide the needed connectivity to anyone wherever they are working from.
Many essential cloud-based communications, operational, and productivity tools are made for WFH workforces. Some of these include Google Suite, Microsoft 365, Zoho, and more.
3. Maximize productivity
With everyone working from home and at varying hours, it is important to track productivity among the various departments and employees. Key metrics can show where there is a spike or lack in productivity compared to before you pivoted to a WFH workforce. With that data, you can maximize productivity by adjusting existing pipelines and work policies to allow for greater potential in seamless communication and operational workflow.
4. Keep to your normal business hours
Pivoting to a WFH workforce can mean many different things including more flexible hours. However, customers and clients need to be able to reach your business knowing that someone is going to be there to help. Therefore, keeping normal business hours is important. It will provide a steady flow of external communication while offering stability for your employees.
5. Streamline remote work tools that support your small business
Your small business will need a standard set of operational, communications, and other productivity tools to maximize productivity. With a WFH workforce, these remote work tools are essential to keeping the team intact. In addition, streamlining your remote work tools gives employees the chance to learn and master the specific tools they need. Hopping around from one tool to the next creates instability and reduces productivity levels.
There is a range of remote work tools that are designed to support your small business. Many various tools range in pricing and offer different features. Video conferencing includes Zoom and Google Hangouts. Microsoft 365 and Google offer emailing and office applications. While Slack, Airtable, and Cisco Spark provide workplace collaboration platforms.
6. Ensure you have support
Now that you will have to use a mix of tools and systems, it is important to ensure that you are supported in your pivoting. Transiting into a WFH workforce requires a little getting used to. For instance, with your new small business VoIP phone system, you will need to learn the new system and be able to operate it. Often, employees require technical assistance or support when interfacing with new systems. Finally, ensure that whatever systems or tools you have chosen provide sufficient support and helpdesk options so you and your WFH workforce can get help anytime you need it.
7. Back up important business data
As you ease into your new Work from Home workplace, you should be thinking about how to keep important business data and information secure and handy. With a WFH workforce, employees will be working in various locations with files and critical data on various laptops or computers. Moreover, it is crucial to ensure that backups of documents and important data be centralized, in a cloud-based source or location. Furthermore, make sure that data is easily accessible to everyone. And, if a workstation fails, that data should be retrievable so that it can be recovered.
8. Keep costs low
Not forgetting the pandemic is not exactly over, saving money is crucial to any small business. And, there are many options available for every aspect of your business. Keeping costs low is important. So, carefully screen your options to ensure there are no hidden costs. Ensure that you are getting value for your money. In addition, always ensure that you are only paying for what your small business needs.
9. Equip your Work from Home workforce
Remember that pivoting to a WFH workforce changes many things for you and your employees. Not all employees are prepared for this. Many might not be equipped to work from home. Remaining flexible and understanding employee needs is essential in times like these. In addition, work with various departments to ensure all employees can take what they need from the office such as laptops and supplies. The better equipped your employees are, the more productive they will be at home.
10. Check-in on your workforce and yourself
Working from home can be effective and productive. However, it can also be daunting or stressful for many employees and even for yourself as a small business owner. Regular check-ins can help boost work attitudes and spirit. Ensure your new WFH workforce takes the time they need for breaks and rest. Keep an eye on workload so they are not stressed out juggling deadlines during dinner time.
In conclusion, times are changing and it is always important to ensure everyone is well and positive during such a transition. As you pivot to your WFH workforce, always be open to suggestions. Ask for feedback periodically to gauge how everyone is feeling. Be flexible to change and adapt to new procedures and ways of doing things. Most importantly, as we all try to sustain our businesses, we have to remember that we are not alone. Many service providers are here to help in your transition.