The arrival of COVID certainly pushed this slow growing trend to allow remote work into the forefront. There is a good chance that many of you out there will be tasked with managing fully remote or partially remote workers at least some of the time now and/or in future. Since things have calmed down some, it's time to really reflect on this change and how it affects your business. During your reflection, consider some of these areas: Managing, Communicating, and Cyber Security. Managing Remote Work and Workers - Make sure you have some HR policies established that deal specifically with remote work. What job types are eligible? How are remote workers measured and monitored? What is an acceptable time frame that work has to take place within? These are just a few of the HR issues you need to think about and establish rules to govern. Communicating with Remote Workers - Lots of items to consider here! * Tools and Timing - Remote Workers need some guidelines around the communication tools you want them to use. Some of this lies in the cyber security area, but some also is just general policy stuff like... how often and when do they need to communicate with you, other team members, and customers? What are acceptable communication methods? What tools are expected to be used - phone, group chat, zoom, email, etc? What are the expectations on turnaround time? Using specific communication methods for specific work and mixing them up is important. * Your interaction - As many of you have realized, managing a remote worker is different and more challenging than managing an in-person staff member. You need to establish consistent, structured interactions with them - maybe a daily or weekly call or zoom meeting. Most remote workers feel more disconnected with your company which can result in increased turnover of employees - this can be quite expensive as we all know. Make sure to stay connected with them so that they feel valued and included! * Team Meetings - Regular group meetings are more important when managing remote workers and remote teams. Your team needs time and ways to bond together in order to work effectively together. Meetings also give a format for people to talk about problems and miscommunications that might be happening. Make sure that part of your meeting time includes some personal communication as well. Discussion outside of just the typical business topics is worth the small amount of extra time it takes and keeps you up to date on what is happening in the lives of your employees. Cyber Security - Remote work certainly opens up issues and concerns with security for all companies. What information is private company information that you want to keep under your control? This could be something basic like customer names and contact information that competitors might want. Or it could be personal identification information that needs to be kept secure for legal and financial reasons. If you have concerns in this area - you will likely want to hire someone to help you secure this information. This may mean that you create a "Single Source of Truth". This is a platform they will sign onto where everyone has access to certain company info and software. Two factor authentication, VPN, encryption software, remote desktop, and share document platforms are just some of the ideas to consider. All of these things matter greatly. Finally, make sure the business AND employee devices (including phones!) have updated internal software to protect business information - firewalls, antivirus software, and malware detectors. Employee security training is vital - make sure they know how to identify suspicious emails, how to check that they are using a secure Wifi network, and they know the importance of routine changing of passwords. Need more info? Contact our Jamestown SBDC office at 716-338-1024 (or email SBDC@mail.sunyjcc.edu) to see if we can point you in the right direction!
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