Before the pandemic, 69% of businesses already allowed employees to work from home, at least occasionally. Now, most organizations have no choice but to ask everyone to work on remote teams until further notice. While many businesses were already headed towards more remote employees, no one knows how things will ultimately play out in this uncertain time, and it could mark a decidedly different future for the workplace.

The unexpected onset of Coronavirus left many employers unprepared for a company-wide move to the home office, and many are finding it challenging to stand on solid ground while we all get used to the new normal — at least for the time being — so, what should businesses focus on today for their remote teams, and what should they be thinking about for the coming weeks?

Has your team gone fully #WFH during the #coronavirus outbreak? @CaliperCorp lists 4 things you can do today to help your team adjust, and 4 things to think about for the near future: Click To Tweet

What Needs to Happen Today

1. Get Them Set Up At Home

First and foremost, do everything you can to make sure your employees can work comfortably at home, safely practicing social distancing with as little need as possible to leave home to complete their work. Make sure they have the equipment, technology, and set up at home to accomplish all their normal work. Make sure they have a way to join video calls and instant message their team as needed to keep the normal lines of communication flowing.

2. Understand Your IT Needs

Is it critical that they have their calls forwarded? Do they need a special network connection? Figure out what your technological limitations are for setting up a remote team, what you can solve, and where you need to get creative. If you can’t get a landline hooked up, can you forward their calls? If they need a VPN to access their workstation remotely, how can you make it faster and easier for that to happen on a large scale?

3. Set Expectations

Make sure managers, teams, and individuals have a clear understanding of the new telework expectations: Will you have daily video check-ins? Will they send their daily agenda each morning? What’s going to be the standard method of communication? Set rules and expectations up front so that nothing falls through the cracks and no one has to play catch up later.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Remain visible, even when no one’s at the office. Employees will be looking to their leaders to signal how things should operate, set the tone, and pick up queues for how nervous, excited, or frustrated they think they need to feel. So keep communication lines open — because there will be lots of questions! — and remain optimistic that this will be a productive time and an opportunity for some unique remote team-building.

Is your team ready to #WorkFromHome? @CaliperCorp has 8 tips to ensure your time during #coronavirus isolation goes smoothly, stays productive, and has contingency plans in place: Click To Tweet

What Needs to Happen Tomorrow

1. Keep Your Employees Engaged

Loneliness is a big problem for remote workers, and those who aren’t used to staying home every day might find the transition difficult after a few days, and after weeks, they’re at risk for burnout. Isolation is difficult, so check in with employees regularly to make sure their needs are being met, even at a distance. Continue your regular conversations, have employees join meetings via video so they can see their coworkers, and discuss the obstacles and roadblocks they run into as they spend more and more time outside the office.

2. Encourage Virtual Socialization

We’re all in this together, so use this as an opportunity to strengthen remote team bonds. Schedule virtual coffee breaks, virtual happy hours, and get some creative Slack channels going. Encourage employees to share tips and photos of how they’re staying occupied during isolation: What new recipes are they trying out? What books are they reading? How far have they gotten on that puzzle? We’re all going through a shared experience, so encourage teams to relate to connect.

3. Anticipate Sick Leave

No one might be sick today, but it’s important to remember that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and sickness is inevitable. Have a plan in place should there be sudden sick leave with team members out 1-2 weeks time recovering. How will you prepare teams to be ready on short notice? What tools and resources do they need in order to seamlessly pick up work

4. Be Prepared for the Long Haul

At this moment, no one is sure how long things will last, but some scientists believe we might be confined to our homes for a few months rather than weeks. And it’s likely to have lasting change on the way we work. Make decisions now for your remote teams that are sustainable and scalable instead of looking for a quick fix. By treating this like it’s long-term, you’ll make more sound business decisions today, and see better results tomorrow.

In the meantime, take this opportunity to check in with your employees. Motivation, consistency, and clear communication are key to success during this time, and individuals will be leaning on their managers, coaches, and leaders more than ever.

To help facilitate conversations, gauge motivations, and help each employee find their productivity through their natural abilities and inclinations, the Caliper Essentials for Coaching helps managers and leaders but the right tools into the right hands, and can help make your transition to remote teams smoother and more successful.

Reach out to our experts today to learn more about the ways Caliper can help your business stay strong and productive through uncharted waters.