With the Coronavirus impacting countries around the world, we see the impact that this is having on the remote workforce currently and implications for the future. For that reason, I felt obligated to write this post from the perspective of an educator and workforce development strategist.
As we see the virus continuing to spread across the world in various countries, we also see some employers taking extreme safety measures to protect people. We have seen companies across the globe ask their employees to do their tasks remotely, cancel travel, and separate themselves from the masses to prevent the spread of disease. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention has jumped on board with providing guidelines and protocols for businesses and promoting that they encourage people to work remotely to reduce the risk. At first, this may seem like this is excellent. However, we have to acknowledge that some organizations and people may not be ready to join the remote workforce. Those of us in the field already have to be concerned with how this will all play out for the future.
Some of you may be thinking that this is exciting. However, I have been in the remote workforce since 2011 and seen successful organizations and many that weren't. If you have listened to our blogs and our podcasts, you would understand that we stress that working remotely is not for everyone, and businesses and companies have to plan how to enter the remote workforce. Otherwise, this whole idea of having millions of people joining the remote workforce in a short time can backfire. A simple way to put this is acknowledging that flipping the switch to remote work is not always easy and straightforward. With my experience in workforce development, it takes strategy and process to do it effectively. Making the switch from working in an office to remote will present challenges for organizations if they have never done it before.
We are merely seeing organizations moving 100% remote without any planning or a strategy in place. Moving an organization fully remote takes time, resources, and training to do this successfully. Employers have to think about The following scenarios before going remote such as:
Employers can develop a strategy and a plan for working remotely, but it is going to take time. They need to think about communication and how they will talk to each other verbally and non-verbally. For example, are they using Slack, MS Teams, Facebook Workplace for discussion, along with video conferencing such as Zoom.us? Also, how will they share information? Are they going to use Google Drive in terms of storing information shared in real-time so employees can collaborate and work together? Will they use a program such as Asana to ensure that things are getting done? Another concern that employers have to consider is security. How can they ensure that their intellectual properties are protected and that their employees are safe as they are working online?
Organizations need a plan. With the plan, you have a start and end. This way, employees know if this is going to be short-term as long as the virus is an issue or do they have a definite start and stop date. Employers also have to consider things such as flexible work schedules, since employees will be working at home or are they expecting everyone to work traditional hours?
As you can see, there is a lot to think about for employers when considering moving their organizations entirely remotely. Honestly, we have only begun to scratch the surface of this topic. We certainly need another few more blogs and posts to cover everything. Please stay tuned