COVID-19 has caused disruption to many around the world and is set to continue to do so. The consequences are multifaceted and extend into many aspects of our everyday life.
We are now seeing more and more businesses preparing to direct employees to work from home. As those businesses dust off their business continuity plans, they are also forced to quickly consider the steps that are needed to be taken to implement remote work.
In this post we share our experiences with a remote workforce- both the benefits and the lessons. The key is to plan, execute, and prepare to adjust your processes and policies in response to feedback from your employees.
Legal work in 2020 is nothing like it was 50 years ago. Software empowers remote work by making it easier to communicate and to provide legal services. At Law Quarter, we use Titan to review and generate contracts, Zoom for video conferencing, Slack to communicate between our teams, and Clio to track our work.
At Law Quarter, you could say we have flexible working arrangements. All full time staff enjoy the discretion to work from home at any time and without notice. Flexibility requires trust and trust in your employees pays dividends. However, having your employees work from home does require planning and thought to be effective.
To prepare for remote work, ensure that you have the systems and processes in place to support your employees.
Examine and evaluate the software you need to work effectively. Consider speaking to those in similar industries or companies to see what works and what does not work for them. As we note above, we use a range of SaaS products in the delivery of legal services.
Where you are using specialist software or proprietary databases consider implementing VPNs for staff to use to connect.
A range of large software providers are offering free subscriptions during the COVID-19 crisis, including Zoom (see here) and others.
Security continues to be a key concern. If your employees are using laptops ensure that they have up to date software and comprehensive anti-virus software installed.
Ensure that you have processes in place to support your clients and staff while your company operates remotely.
This may mean changes to your existing processes and policies or the development of new processes and policies. Contact us if you would like free assistance with remote work policies and procedures.
Clearly explain your plans and expectations to your employees. Give them the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and give them the opportunity to identify and resolve potential challenges.
Ensuring that your employees are safe is a key concern, so ensure that you have processes in place that verify the safety of their home-work set up. There are a variety of online courses available that help employees understand how to set up a safe home work-place. Your business will remain responsible for the health and safety of your employees as they work from home.
There are a variety of safety risks that need to be managed effectively for at home workers. These include ensuring that your employees are set up with a work station that is safe, that your employees have a good chair and, where possible, a standing desk, and that their monitor and desk are set up for maximum ergonomic efficiency.
Beyond concerns with physical safety, you should ensure that your employees are supported with the mental health challenges that follow from working in isolation. Consider running ‘virtual meetings’ on a regular basis, check in with your employees to ensure that they are not overworked and overstressed and ensure that they have access to mental health services.
Keep communication channels open to your employees. With Zoom, you can keep a meeting ‘open’ so that employees can check in with you when they need to. To do so, simply start a meeting and have your mic on mute.
You will need to continually monitor the effectiveness of your work from home program. This will involve ensuring that your employees are safe, engaged, and satisfied.
Avoid assuming that business will operate ‘as usual.’ Adjustments will be required on an individual and organisation basis.
When monitoring the effectiveness of your work from home program, ask yourself what you could do better and ensure that you listen to the feedback given to you by employees. That feedback may mean that you need to change the systems and processes you use and may mean that you need to make adjustments on an ongoing basis.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.