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Coronavirus and Office Shutdowns: How to Cope With Suddenly Becoming a Remote Worker

remote worker

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, with a quickly spreading virus causing drastic changes in our routine lives—from empty toilet paper shelves at the grocery store to entire workforces being asked to work from home. Working away from the office takes some getting used to if it’s new to you, and for managers, leading an entire workforce that’s becoming remote all at once will have unique challenges.

We aren’t health care experts, but as finance and accounting consultants who spend the majority of our time outside of the RoseRyan office, we are experts at remote work, and we are here to share some tips and insights, for both employees and those who will be managing them from afar.

Tips for Remote Employees

  • Over-communicate: This is the #1 most important tip. No longer sitting across the open office space from your co-workers, ad hoc conversations are going to be rare. You’ll need regular 1:1 meetings to check in with your teammates, to review projects in process, deadlines and accomplishments. Make a point in these meeting to make sure everyone knows the status of your projects and who is responsible for “next steps.” Don’t assume everyone remembers important milestones or deliverables; everyone is busy and it’s your job to manage your workflow and keep everyone up to date on status.
  • Be tech savvy: Reliable Wi-Fi is a must as you need access to any cloud apps your company uses. Access to systems should be seamless, and so should your ability to keep in touch with everyone. Take advantage of communication tools like Slack, Zoom and G Suite to collaborate with colleagues—you can’t rely on email alone. And always keep your phone charger nearby; you may find yourself on the phone more often now that you’re away from the office.
  • Secure your work and your surroundings: This becomes a bigger challenge when you’re responsible for your own devices and workspace. If remote work was previously not allowed, your company may not even have a security policy in place for your new situation. Inquire about it as you won’t be the only one wondering what the right thing to do is.

    Be mindful of confidentiality—by not being in the office, you open up the risk for sensitive data being seen or heard by others. Take steps to avoid that.
  • Set up a dedicated workspace: Given the circumstances, we aren’t recommending a co-work space right now—but do find a quiet, dedicated space in your home where you can focus on your work, and not be distracted by everyone else who has to stay home, that growing pile of laundry or a favorite video game.
  • Develop a routine: Establish your work hours and stick to it—you may need to be a bit flexible to accommodate deadlines and other team members’ schedules, but it’s important to not blur the lines between work and home too much. Schedule your day as if you were in the office. Rolling out of bed, sitting on the couch in your pj’s all day and binge-watching Netflix isn’t going to cut it. (If you have to take a sudden video call, you want to be dressed appropriately and no risk of nearby pets jumping on your lap.)

Tips for Remote Managers

If you’re the one suddenly responsible for managing a remote team, we have some additional tips for you:

  • Over-communicate: Not surprisingly, this tops on our list again. There’s a statistic that says 55% of communication involves non-verbal cues. When you don’t get to see your team face-to-face, you’re only hearing them (or worse—just reading their emails) and you’re missing out on body language. Is your team member upset? Frustrated? Unhappy? As much as possible, get out of email and into a video chat—there’s no reason not to do more of this.

    Schedule time for regular 1:1s and include non-work related conversation during these virtual meetups—be sure to stay connected to your team. You’ve built rapport together, and it’s important to maintain it.
  • Make time for group meetings: It’s not enough to simply put them on the schedule. You also want to be sure that everyone shows up and that everyone gets a chance to have their voice heard. (If most of these meetings are audio only, this responsibility is tougher than when you gathered in a conference room together—another reason to encourage video chat for your new remote workforce.) Otherwise you may get stuck 15 minutes into a phone call before discovering a key person is having technical difficulties and didn’t hear your message. Keep in mind it can be harder for quieter people to add their voice when someone is dominating the discussion.
  • Set the tone: Your actions and words can help keep your team connected during this time. Also make sure your employees understand how their actions impact security and what steps they need to take to protect business assets. Remind your team about the dangers of social engineering—people suddenly finding themselves working remotely can become a juicy target for phishing, spoofing or other manipulative tactics that are used to get people to turn over sensitive information.

RoseRyan’s dynamic team of finance and accounting aces have powered companies through a variety of obstacles and growth opportunities since 1993. To fill a gap in your finance team or take on a special project, find out what our team can do for you.