The COVID-19 pandemic turned remote working into an option that many company leaders began suddenly offering out of necessity. They quickly realized it was the safest approach when so many questions remained about how long the virus might disrupt society and threaten lives.
Even now, almost a year from when most of the world perceived COVID-19 as a direct and personal threat, many employers still agree that working from home is the best choice for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you’ve even decided people can keep working from home once the COVID-19 threat passes.
Here are some crucial tips to help your marketing team get ready for a long-term work-from-home arrangement.
Recognize the Transition
Your team members and clients will likely need an adjustment period to facilitate them easing into the change. When communicating with both of those groups, start by focusing on the positives as much as possible. For example, you could remind workers that they won’t have to worry about commuting stresses.
On the client’s side of things, emphasize that they can still look forward to the same level of service. It may also be worth bringing up that remote working can remove some of the obstacles that frequently exist between clients and marketing experts. For example, there’s no need to deal with the hassles of in-person meetings. Collaboration can occur as long as there is a reliable internet connection.
Even when the positives exist and people are aware of them, humans naturally resist change. They may feel upset about all the newness associated with remote working environments. Acknowledge that your team and clients may not immediately embrace long-term work-from-home arrangements. Show patience and give them time to adapt while making it clear you’re there to support them every step of the way.
Iron Out the Specific Employer-Employee Obligations
Your marketing company probably has specific policies about the responsibilities assumed by employees and employers. For example, while an employer agrees to schedule a worker for a guaranteed minimum number of hours per week, the employee might bear the responsibility of always giving at least a week’s notice before taking time off, unless something like an unexpected illness prevents that.
A long-term remote working arrangement may necessitate tweaking your current employee contracts or drawing up new documents. For starters, such legal agreements can clarify situations that could complicate working from home.
For example, if the hard drive fails on your team leader’s laptop, does the company replace it, or must the employee cover the costs? In either case, how quickly should the new equipment sourcing occur? Does an employer require a worker to have a minimum internet speed to work outside the office?
A remote working contract can also create a framework for the flexibility that often comes when people start working from home. Can a worker begin within a certain time window as long as they stay on the clock for the expected duration? Could remote workers log hours during the weekend even though your physical offices are not open then?
Confirming these details now will set the stage for mutually smooth experiences as people work from home.
Investigate Options for Improved Collaboration
For example, if a team member has an urgent question while working from home, they can’t simply walk across the hall to ask a colleague. However, between options like video chat tools and instant messaging interfaces, it’s easier than in the past for people to stay productive while collaborating.
Getting work done remotely is not only about bridging gaps between team members, though. It also means sharing information and knowledge securely. That’s crucial given that employees may deal with sensitive material.
Consider setting guidelines such as instructing workers always to handle confidential content within the provided platforms. For example, if they print out a document to read over during a team video call, there’s an increased chance a person in their household might read it.
Encourage and Remain Open to Feedback
It’s not reasonable to assume you’ll get everything right concerning a long-term work-from-home plan. That’s because learning comes from experience. Many company representatives had no familiarity with remote working until COVID-19 disruptions happened. It’s also likely you’ll discover better ways of doing things after working remotely for a while.
Tell and show your team that you appreciate them weighing in about what’s going well and how they’re still struggling. Emphasize that worker feedback will help you make better decisions that benefit everyone involved. Assure them you’re genuinely receptive to what they say, too. If employees try to give their opinions on things and immediately get shut down or ignored, they’ll hesitate to try again in the future.
Think about effective ways to seek feedback, too. Many people won’t provide it unless they’re experiencing major issues. However, you ideally don’t want to let things get to that point. Monthly video chat check-ins or short surveys could help workers feel more comfortable disclosing their successes and concerns surrounding working from home.
Provide Your Team With Personal and Professional Support
A tricky thing about remote working is that it may blur the lines between employees’ personal and professional lives.
For example, it’s easier for many people to mentally shift between working and downtime when they leave one physical location and go to another. That doesn’t happen when people work in the same rooms where they watch TV, play with their kids and pets, and enjoy quality time with loved ones.
Problems can also crop up when people try to work at home alongside their partners or while surrounded by kids who are attending school virtually. Bear in mind, too, that the pandemic has caused tremendous mental strain for people. They worry about themselves or people they care about becoming ill, feel increasingly isolated due to the lack of in-person socializing, and may deal with crippling anxiety or depression stemming from fear or uncertainty about the future.
These circumstances highlight why it’s crucial to give the personal and professional guidance that employees need during these difficult times. Maybe that means offering some mental health resources or allowing some people to change their schedules so they don’t work simultaneously with other household members.
On the professional side of things, ask what tools or processes they think would significantly improve their workflows or growth and see what you can do to accommodate them.
Empower Your Team to Develop Their Problem-Solving Skills
Working from home will almost certainly not be a trouble-free option for your marketing team. Fortunately, your proactive attitude can help them address some of the common challenges they may face. Aim to strike a balance between showing them that you’re available to assist and trusting them to use their accumulated knowledge and creativity to solve problems without your input or prior approval.
For example, you could suggest some reliable ways to cut down on distractions at home while also implementing “quiet hours” where people can get stuff done without interruptions from colleagues’ notifications. Another possibility is to have team members share tips that work for them, then put them all into a shared wiki.
Remember that a remote work environment may involve people working outside of your company’s business hours. Consider how you might develop troubleshooting resources for people who encounter trouble during times when many of their colleagues may be unavailable to assist.
If people see that you have confidence they can address problems while simultaneously giving them relevant resources, they’ll feel better equipped to work from home.
Remote Working Can Bring Resilience
These tips will help your remote team have a primarily positive long-term experience while working from home. Adjusting takes effort and commitment from everyone involved. However, it’ll almost certainly be well worth it.
Even if your marketing company eventually reverts to having some or all employees back in the office, the flexibility that comes from learning how to operate the organization remotely could prove invaluable.
Consider other events beyond the pandemic that could make it temporarily unsafe for people to go to the office. They include everything from a snowstorm to a gas leak. Remote work could bring more reliability in those unexpected situations, keeping your company on track to please your clients.
When your team can capably work from home, they’ll be well-positioned to keep their output up regardless of location. Although working remotely is a long-term solution for your company, it’s not necessarily a permanent one.
As the weeks and months progress, continually consider when or if you bring people back to your business’s office. Although some people may love remote work and want to do it forever if possible, others prefer on-site setups all the time or at least occasionally. Listen to input from employees who have numerous feelings about remote working and use it to steer your future decisions.