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Transiting to working from home taught us many lessons, both personally and professionally.
At Nextep, we’ve listened to the challenges our employees faced while transitioning to the new normal. We wanted to share what we’ve learned so far in hopes that it can help other businesses tackling the same challenges and preparing for the next crisis.
Communication is key
When the world and your workforce are changing rapidly and no two days look the same, overcommunication is the name of the game. Your people want to know what leadership is thinking, what plans they’re putting in place, and if they can expect more changes to their job.
In light of the unpredictability, we implemented weekly updates from our corporate HR department. These updates include department shoutouts, company retention and hiring plans, and updates from government leaders on stay-at-home orders.
Our CEO, Brian Fayak, also made himself available for Q&A sessions. Employees submitted questions, and nothing was off-limits. He answered them all!
It’s important to keep teams communicating with one another. When your employees are used to interacting and collaborating with their coworkers, it’s essential to maintain the same level of camaraderie virtually. Here are some ideas to keep communication flowing:
- Add team huddles to start and/or end the day
- Block out time on your calendar to have an open video chat for anyone to join
- Have a virtual team lunch or happy hour
- Provide constant communication from leadership and have an open-door policy
Check on your employees
Without a doubt, the pandemic has negative implications for businesses across the country, but it also has negative human implications. Some employees had to homeschool their kids through the spring semester, others with compromised immune systems have had to take extra precautions. Whatever the situation, each person’s life has been changed in some way and deserves attention.
Our teams have been busier than ever helping our clients navigate the changes. They accomplished so much and are serving so many clients, and our leadership sees it as their job to serve our teams. Leaders check on their teams frequently. Sometimes it’s a simple video chat, other times leaders are taking on tasks to alleviate the workload.
Here are a few ways to check in with and encourage your employees to care for their mental health:
- Give them access to mental health experts
- Nextep clients can access free counseling services through our employee assistance program, Resources for Living
- Encourage paid time off (PTO) and let your team leave early if their work is done
- Schedule a video chat to talk about how your team is doing
- Be flexible. Personal lives have been turned upside down, give them the time they need to care for themselves and their families
For Nextep, it was important to ensure our employees didn’t miss a step when transitioning to working from home. Our clients need us to be available, and our tech-forward initiatives helped us adjust quickly and nimbly.
First and foremost, employees need a computer at home and access to their work files. We use a cloud-based system, which makes it simple for employees to access everything they need remotely. Then, we started addressing the more complex needs including extra monitors or more powerful equipment.
Here’s what you can do now to be prepared for a remote workforce:
- Ensure your employees have laptops for a quick and easy transition
- Store your files on a cloud-based system
- Set up a virtual network so your employees can access their work desktop remotely
- Invest in extra equipment, whether it’s spare monitors, adapters, or wireless keyboards, figure out what will help your employees seamlessly work from home
Incorporate new ideas
Much of what we’ve learned ignited new ideas we can continue to use moving forward. One of the biggest lessons for us was that many of our employees enjoyed the flexibility of working from home, and, quite frankly, they’re really dang good at it. This encouraged us to create a new policy that allows flexibility in working from home from time to time going forward.
Beyond that, we’ll continue to focus on the wellbeing of our employees, having fun whenever possible, and celebrating each other often (even it’s it virtual).
Whatever the changes, listen to your employees’ needs and keep up the great work! We’re all in this together.