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How to prepare your business (and your employees) to work remotely

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 7, 2014
Hurricanes, blizzards, floods, earthquakes, even mundane events like employees' car troubles or family obligations can disrupt your business and put a damper on productivity. Here's how to prepare your business and your personnel for working remotely.

For example, these tools allow IT staff to assess, diagnose, discuss, and address outages or performance issues on the weekend, without having to physically be in the office. They are also key components of business continuity plans when services may need to be routed through secondary servers, or when employees cannot come into the office but business must continue, he says.

Having systems and technology in place to enable remote work is healthy for both your employees and your business, and it can be a powerful competitive differentiator, says Duchesne. If employees are set up to work from the safety of their own homes, business won't come to a halt when bad weather and road closures are a problem, he says. Not only that, but this translates into increased employee loyalty.

"Showing your employees that you trust them to work from home and that you care about their safety will improve company morale and your employees' loyalty to the company," he says.

It's good for your customers, too, Duchesne says. From a customer service standpoint, closing down shop for a couple of days can have huge negative impacts on sales and to your company's reputation, he says.

"Allowing employees to work from home means that they will continue to meet their deliverables and clients will continue to have their needs met. It's an opportunity to differentiate yourself to your clients," he says. "While other providers' services may falter, yours will not, and your clients will notice," Duchesne says.

How to Implement Remote Work Policies
But how you implement remote policies is just as important as offering them in the first place, Duchesne says. To make sure your remote-working policies are effective, you first must clearly communicate your intent to your employees, he says.

"When adverse situations come up where you want to offer the option for employees to work from home, have a clear plan in place and communicate it in a timely manner," Duchesne says.

The more notice you can give employees the better — letting them know the afternoon before, if you can, is much more helpful than at 6 the morning of a weather event like a snow storm. It is also important that clear lines for communication are implemented, and that employees are well-versed in using remote connectivity and communication technologies before a crisis situation strikes, Duchesne says.

"Having instant messaging accounts, remote login information to access files and conference call lines set up before a snow storm hits will ensure a productive work day," Duchesne says.

It's also important to set guidelines and expectations for employees working from home, he adds. That can include physical space and setup — employees should have a quiet place at home to work free from distractions and disruptions, he says, which is important not just for productivity purposes, but to ensure your company's represented well by employees working from home.

 

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