Chances are you’re working from home if your job situation allows it. Today’s circumstances are putting remote working arrangements to the test; companies have no option other than to comply with state and national-level requirements. Recent research shows that due to the advice from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Remote work… [is] one of the policies that nearly half (46%) of organizations are implementing because of the COVID-19 epidemic.”

Of course, working remote – or telecommuting – isn’t a new concept. In fact, the number of employees leveraging this kind of flexibility has increased steadily in the US. According to CNBC, “One Gallup survey found that 43% of Americans work from home occasionally. That's up from 39% of those who did in 2012. And according to Quartz, U.S. Census data indicates that 5.2% of U.S. workers completely worked at home in 2017 — that's about 8 million people.”

That article went on to state that more Americans would stay home to work if they could. Those individuals are likely getting an opportunity to do just that right now. The key during this uncertain time is to help make this arrangement as successful as possible for both the employee and the company. The following are some ways to manage remote employees effectively now — whether as a short-term solution, or in preparation for extended policies.

Maintain normalcy as much as possible

This approach is needed for everyone at every age.  Keeping routines and schedules help people continue to be productive and keep a sense of structure.  Keep your team meetings and one-on-one check-ins. Continue to make trainings available if you have them. Keep deadlines and goals intact so long as they are reasonable. While some adjustments may need to be made, in general keeping the same level of responsibility and accountability will help employees stay focused. 

Make sure expectations are clear

Some managers and leaders may be concerned about a drop in productivity and accountability due to the flexible nature of remote working. It’s true that employees shouldn’t take this opportunity to sleep in until 11 a.m. and sign off around 1:30 p.m. Expectations that are clearly communicated will help curb lax behavior, especially if you continue your routines as mentioned above. Communication to your teams about what programs should be used for collaboration and delivery of items will help put structure and boundaries around this new setup. 

Focus on unity

Feeling a part of a culture and team is even more important during times of uncertainty. Luckily there are plenty of technological solutions that create a personal touch while working separately. Programs like Zoom, WebEx, Slack, Skype, Google Drive, Microsoft suite/messenger, etc. can help teams see, hear and work more intimately with each other.  Leveraging this kind of technology to support your existing routines, like meetings and deadlines, will help ease the transition from in-office to remote working. 

Keep corporate communication frequent

Without the hallway and water cooler discussions, employees can begin to feel isolated from company topics and news. Continue communication mediums already in place and consider increasing the volume and frequency of those communications. In addition to important updates and housekeeping items, take the opportunity to include lighter topics with employee spotlights, at-home physical challenges and other fun information. Doing so will strengthen company culture and engagement. 

While working from home may not be the most desirable arrangement every company, now is the time to extend this popular benefit to employees where possible and discover how it can be done successfully. Learn more about how to continue other aspects of your wellness plan during this time by offering on-demand videos to employees with ClassPass.

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