Remote working and what it takes
Remote working is a topic on everyone’s lips at present, due to the current coronavirus situation. The working model sounds simple – but some important things have to be taken into account that poses challenges to many companies.
Insight in brief
For a functioning virtual collaboration three things are needed:
- the right infrastructure
- the right tools
- the right culture
The primary goal is to find answers to the following questions:
- How do we enable productive collaboration for our remote employees?
- Which IT tools are needed for successful remote working?
- How can we quickly digitalize or automate processes that are necessary for the business?
- How do we integrate an omnichannel strategy to keep marketing, sales and customer service aligned across all communication channels?
- And last but not least: how do we ensure compliance with secrecy and data protection obligations, which can be particularly problematic when working from home?
Companies normally plan their entry into remote working long beforehand by setting up training courses and launching pilot projects. None of this is possible in the current situation. In many companies, it has simply been announced that ‘from tomorrow, everyone will be working from home’. But virtual collaboration calls for much more than just a laptop and instructions to work elsewhere from now on.
1. The right infrastructure
Companies must be sure that the infrastructure meets the necessary requirements. Network speeds should definitely allow for video conferencing – brainstorming is more effective when the participants can see each other rather than just hear or ‘read’ each other. Access to the data and tools needed for work must also be guaranteed. In the event of technical difficulties, remote workers should be able to access a service for solving problems as quickly as possible.
2. The right tools
From a brief exchange of ideas at the coffee machine to collective brainstorming or a personal conversation in private – a virtual alternative is needed for everything. Tools such as video conferencing, chats, social networks and an intranet for easy information and collaboration are therefore essential. The basic equipment includes smartphones, headsets, and webcams, but also software and project management tools. Tools such as these guarantee the progress of the projects and ensure that communication within the team is efficient and effective. Anyone wishing to introduce remote working must provide access to such tools.
3. The right corporate culture
Remote working is an attitude – a mindset with clearly defined practices. It is crucial that there is within the organization a certain grade of tolerance regarding different living situations (e.g. parents with small children), extended working hours (because of inefficient time, distractions, etc.) and other challenges that come with remote working. It is the responsibility of the management to set clear rules and priorities.
If companies adhere to these three basic principles, remote working can work well – during the current crisis and beyond.