Many companies have shifted to a work-from-home business model in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some organizations intend to return to a shared workspace, others are making the change permanent to cut costs and ensure continuity.
These changes can have a detrimental impact on your business workflow. Here are five tips to improve your remote workflow and put processes in place that suit your new business environment.
Audit Your Current Processes
Start by auditing your current processes to find any weak points or areas for improvement. If your company was forced to change to a remote environment seemingly overnight – like so many others were – there are likely some gaps that were created in the process. Things you did before the pandemic likely don’t fit the new setup, while the quick changes you implemented to stay afloat initially may not be the best option anymore.
Use this exercise to generate a list of priorities regarding where your focus is needed. Work to improve the most important tasks first, then start fixing the secondary tasks that have been on the backburner.
Implement the Right Tools
The tools that helped your business thrive in an in-person work setting may not work for your remote work setup. During your audit, determine which tools are working and which should be upgraded or replaced.
Cloud-based tools are a must for a remote work environment, especially if it will be a long-term change. Consider cloud-based project management tools such as Asana or Trello, instant messaging tools like Slack or WhatsApp, and a file-sharing program such as eFax.
Having the right tools in place lays the framework for employee communications – a vital component in making a remote business model work.
Create Training Opportunities
Give your employees every possible training opportunity that you can. Whether it’s learning to operate within a new business model or figuring out the nuances of a new technology tool, making the shift as easy as possible will ease the transition for your employees and your business.
When you implement a new tool, create a follow-up schedule with your employees to determine their comfort level and further training needs. Don’t hesitate to ask what they dislike about the program and what struggles they are experiencing. Create a safe platform for your employees to provide feedback about their obstacles.
Prioritize Deliverables over Hours
Consider shifting away from a time-based model to a deliverable-centric business model. In other words, don’t ask your employees to sit at their desks for eight hours a day. Instead, outline the tasks that need to be accomplished and work together to set reasonable deadlines.
Flexibility is a necessity when shifting to an entirely remote work environment. It’s important to note that many employees will be facing conflicting priorities that were not an issue before the pandemic. Workspaces are being shared with roommates, spouses, and even children, all of whom may need the workspace as well.
Prioritizing deliverables makes it easier to clarify and manage expectations to keep projects moving forward.
Use Performance Metrics
Finally, set performance metrics to measure the success of your workflow changes. It might take some time to find processes and methods that are just right in this new work environment. But by outlining performance metrics and assessing feedback, you can analyze the effectiveness of the changes you made, and adjust as needed.
Opt for a combination of qualitative and quantitative performance metrics. For qualitative data, you can request anonymous feedback from employees in the form of a confidential survey. Metrics like the time to complete a project can be used as quantitative data.
Consider using time tracking to help employees determine where they’re spending the most time during their day. This data can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of your workflow changes, even in a deliverable-based business model.
With these five steps, you can permanently shift to a remote business model while optimizing your workflow and productivity.