We’ve never seen a crisis with such unique challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are now preparing for what the “new normal” will look like including the shift to a flexible, remote workforce with working from home becoming a critical part of a business’ success. Shifting to a work from home set up and managing remote workers has challenged even the most well-known global brands and governments with business continuity and employees at the center of it all.
hammerjack’s transition of nearly 300 staff from an office-based setup across multiple locations to a 100% work from home arrangement with nearly no business interruption and so many moving parts took everyone and all of our experience.
In this article, we list down the best practices our team put in place that made the transition a successful one.
Talk of going into community quarantine was already spreading even before the Philippine government declared it. Our management team wasted no time and went head-on to come up with a response: a plan to keep operations running with little to no impact to customers whilst protecting team members and their families.
Steps in transitioning to work from home setup
Form an emergency response team
One of the first things hammerjack did was to create an organization-wide emergency response team (made up of all levels of employees) that would be responsible for collaborating and dealing with all the moving parts that came with the pandemic. Your organization may choose to do this differently, here are the teams, areas of responsibilities, and Points of Contact (PoC) that worked for us based on our business.
Each committee or division oversees their own functions, but due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19, flexibility in roles was needed. This meant skills from members of one division may be required in fulfillment of another division’s function. Now more than ever, we realize the importance of adaptability and teamwork.
2. Make updating a habit
Starting from the planning stage up until this very moment, defined updates among team members has become part of daily routine. We have established a strong culture of openness and collaboration that even when the community quarantine was declared, members would reach out to each other to provide updates on what they have been up to. Updates include working conditions, workload, attendance, and overall well-being of members themselves and their loved ones.
In the same way that members update their leaders, leaders also provide feedback on their teams’ performance. Sharing commendations from customers has been part of our strategy to keep members motivated and give them a sense of accomplishment and belongingness. Working remotely can take a toll on motivation as members may feel isolated and alone if not engaged.
Additionally, our leaders hold a daily online huddle to present achievements and updates from the previous day, discuss challenges and lay down tasks for the day itself. This gives everyone a quick view of how teams are doing and how best to support each other.
3. Utilization of technology in all aspects of business
The call for technology has never been louder since the COVID-19 crisis hit the global community. Companies who never thought of embedding technology on their business now started to accelerate their technology journeys to keep up. The fact Microsoft Teams usage has seen over a 500% increase in use on its platform should say enough.
In hammerjack (with operations being 6000 kilometres away from Sydney, 8,500 miles from New York and 10,000 kilometres from London) tech is a part of our daily work life even before the pandemic. From recruitment to training and development, to sales to service delivery, tech is in every aspect of our business. Because we had already employed Microsoft technology and cloud as the core of our infrastructure, transitioning to a work from home setup has impacted our operations very minimally. We use well-known Microsoft apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook; but we also utilize Microsoft’s team collaboration hub, chat, and conferencing app Teams, with Power BI for reporting. All of our teams use Microsoft and this has made transitioning from the office setup to remote work less challenging for us – completing the transition in less than a week.
As a Microsoft Cloud Solutions partner, we weren’t able to just support ourselves and clients with getting what they needed, but also our clients’ customers through our dedicated sales, delivery, and support teams. The enterprise security features that come with Microsoft tech also gives us the confidence that even our clients’ data are protected and kept private.
4. Keep the office routine
One of the hardest parts of the transition from an office setup to a work from home arrangement is trying to keep energy at the same level. Members often end up waking later than usual when they start working from home, given that there is no buffer time for the morning commute. Most would wake up a few minutes before they must be online, and the energy required for morning tasks has not yet reached the optimal level.
To solve this, here are some suggestions by experts:
Wake up at the same time as if you are going to the office
This means going to bed at the same time too. Not only is this useful when transitioning from office to WFH setup, but also vice-versa. Body clock adjustment don’t have to be difficult. Your body needs the signals that it usually takes to know it is time to wake up and be productive.
Shower and get dressed – and not in your pajamas!
Anybody new to the work from home setup will have the tendency to work in the same clothes they wore to bed (still due to the lesser time to prepare in the morning). Your body takes this as a signal to relax and rest. A shower in the morning and a new set of clothes will wake your body up. Some workers from home even go the extra mile by wearing light make up (which proves useful during video conferences!)
Avoid going online first thing in the day
To some extent, almost all workers from home are guilty of this. The computer screen or phone screens are the first things they look at to check emails and other important work things. However, the brain is not yet fully awake and aware, and exposing yours to too much information first thing in the morning makes it even harder to get through the day with more energy. Did you know that whatever you read within 30 minutes of waking up, your brain treats it as the truth? You may want to give yourself a chance to wake up throughout the morning before going online.
Have a dedicated space just for work
Avoid using the bedroom as a place to work. Working in the bedroom will just tempt one to lie down and take a nap instead of being productive. Try working in a spot at home where there is enough light and ventilation, but minimal distraction.
What it really takes to shift to remote work easily and dynamically
Shifting to remote work from an office setting is undoubtedly challenging, especially for small to mid-sized businesses. In these unprecedented times though, even large enterprises are having a difficult time coping and navigating the struggles caused by the crisis. This is where a business continuity plan, or simply BCP, comes in.
Crafting a BCP is not easy work either, but with the right strategy in place and expert insights, transitioning to a work from home setup from an office one should be less of a challenge and more of a new norm.
With our leadership’s more than 40 years of combined experience, we can help you get the right strategy for your business.
We are in this together, and together, we stand.