FOR EMPLOYERS

□ Support hardware

Make sure employees have access to laptops, phones, chargers and the hardware they need to bring work home. Encourage them to get in the habit of commuting with these items if they don’t already.

□ Support software

Make sure employees have access to email, communica tion tools like Slack, collabo ration tools like Google Suite or Microsoft 365, project management tools like Trello CRM systems like SalesForce and other software they might need to get work done. Test call forwarding from landlines to cell phones. Ask employees to test their ability to access programs from home so you can troubleshoot or install programs while on the network.

□ Support security

When employees are accessing company data in the cloud, consider two-factor authentication. Be diligent about cybersecurity communication — phishing scams specific to coronavirus are on the rise. Be cautious of clickable links and attachments. Make sure employees never give out passwords, and are cautious about sharing personal information.

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□ Support active communication

Encourage managers and those who report to them to agree on a regular communication plan and cadence for formal meetings, informal check-ins, quick replies, 1:1 reviews, and collaborative work. This plan should include things like expected response times based on urgency, deciding which communication channels are appropriate for a given situation, and the type of work that can be done out of sync from the team versus needing to be collaborated on in real-time. Likewise, develop a communication plan for customers and other stakeholders — let them know you are open for business with modifications to

□ Support a culture of productivity and accountability

Working from home does not mean getting less done. In fact, it can often mean being more productive. If all employees know what’s expected of them in terms of performance and time management, then holding them accountable for those office hours and performance metrics should be business as usual, no matter where they are. This should take some of the stress off managers and employees who might be new to remote work.

 Support wellness

Remote work allows employees to take better care of themselves. There are opportunities for things like stretch breaks, quick walks around the block, healthy eating, avoiding long commutes and overall reduced stress. Take this opportunity to support things that build a healthier, happier, more productive team.

FOR MANAGERS

 Set clear expectations

Make sure your employees know exactly what will be expected of them while they are working remotely — for instance, office hours, weekly performance goals, project updates and task timelines.

□ Set clear communication guidelines

Make sure the people reporting to you can differentiate between things that are urgent and need an immediate response versus things that can wait. Together, decide what communication channels are the right ones to use. For example, for urgent things you will send an instant message and for things that can wait you will send an email. Agree together and leave some room for it to evolve and settle naturally.

□ Support your team

Every team is different and working at home can throw some curveballs. So ask this question often: “Do you have what you need to be successful?” This will flush out anything that your employees might be missing from their toolbox, that you or the organization might not have yet considered.

□ Be flexible

Things come up at home that might not come up in an office. Make sure your team has some room to be flexible with their schedules. As long as everyone knows what they are accountable for, having some flexibility will not matter. In fact, it can help reinforce accountability and trust in the relationship.

FOR ALL EMPLOYEES

□ Set up a solid home office

Make sure you have a dedicated space to get work done and access to a room with a closed door if you need to make calls. You also want to consider a comfortable chair or an option for a standing desk (could be a laptop on some stacked books) to help you stay healthy while you work from your computer.

□ Support security

Phishing scams and cyber attacks targeting coronavirus fears are on the rise. Be cautious of clickable links and attachments. Never give out your password. Be cautious sharing personal information. Remember callers are able to spoof caller ID.

□ Ensure strong internet access

Check to make sure your internet speed is fast enough to have a video call. For example, Zoom, a video conferencing app, recommends you have a connection of 1.5 Mbps up and down. If you have a video streaming service like Netflix and it works OK, you should be good. If you’re not sure, you can check www.speedtest.net.In areas with less internet connectivity, use standard conference calls. Many video conferencing tools will allow you to call in without video even if your team is using the video conferencing capability.

Avoid distractions

There are distractions at home, even if you’re the only one there. Make sure you have headphones to zone into your work. Avoid the temptation to cook, clean or do laundry; try to push chores to either end of your workday.

□ Be a proactive communicator

In the office, it’s easy to ask someone a quick question or to have an impromptu meeting — but not when you’re working at home. Make sure you are reaching out to people if you have questions, ideas or want clarification on a task. It’s especially important to reach out if you’re facing a roadblock either because you are waiting on someone else or you’re feeling stuck.

□ Be accountable

Working from home requires trust. Being an adult who is accountable for their own responsibilities will build trust with an employer and show that you can handle working remotely. If working remotely is new, consider putting in some extra effort in the beginning to show your employer you are a pro.

□ Hold successful remote meetings

Remote meetings are different than in-person meetings. Make sure everyone knows what technology they should be using and have tested it before the meeting starts. It’s also a good idea to have one person lead the meeting who has an agenda with a clear goal to accomplish. Begin meetings with a casual check-in with everyone, much like you would in an office setting. This captures the friendliness of the workplace and makes sure everyone is represented.

 Manage conflict

Conflict can come up no matter what your work situation is — but when the majority of communication is done digitally, you need to pay extra attention to the tone of your emails and messages. It is too easy to misinterpret digital communications. If you ever feel like you are heating up over digital communication, that’s the time to talk on the phone or by video chat to clarify. Humans are way better at communicating orally and face-to-face than digitally.

Source: Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Center

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