Remote Work Should Be Part of Your Coronavirus Emergency Response

Remote Work Should Be Part of Your Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan

It’s Time to Revisit Your Business Continuity and Emergency Plans

With the spread of Covid-19 dominating global headlines, more and more organizations are looking to remote work as part of their emergency response. While markets had their worst showing since the 2008 financial crisis, remote first companies have been insulated and companies that cater to them have even benefited. Video calling, conferencing and webinar platform Zoom has seen 90% more downloads in the last 30 days, over the previous 30 days.

Now global organizations like IBM, PwC and Goldman Sachs are implementing remote work policies in hopes of keeping their workforce healthy. IBM has reversed its stance on remote work, asking that employees limit participation in conferences, meetups and trade shows. Those who work in affected areas have been directed to work from home, if possible. Goldman has placed travel restrictions on its team and created a quarantine protocol for those travelling through affected regions.

Large organizations like these can move quickly to implement a remote work, travel or voluntary quarantine policy because they have already thought through the business impacts and made these policies part of their emergency and disaster response plans. If you haven’t done the same work, it’s time to get started.

In this post, we’ll walk you through a simple action plan that you can apply today.

How to Incorporate Remote Work into Your Emergency Response Plan

Consider ALL the Variables

Shifting your team to remote work isn’t as simple as telling them to stay home tomorrow and work on their laptops. Before moving forward with a remote work plan you should consider their workflows, the apps they use in the course of their duties, how they will communicate efficiently and how you will handle tech support.

In addition to the obvious, there’s the human factor to consider. Managers and employees alike are often anxious about big changes in their work lives. Allay their fears by thinking through what’s different about working from home vs working in office: how will your team handle meetings? Do you need to make any changes to how you handle feedback or collaboration?

Make Sure You Hear from Everyone

Once you have a clear picture of the business impact of moving your team remote, you should address the gaps in your plan, organizing them with an eye to addressing them quickly. Who should make decisions about remote communication apps or remote security? Hint: not you. Get someone from every team involved so that they can efficiently address concerns and raise issues that you might have missed. An emergency response plan needs to include voices from the bottom of your organization to the top.

Create a Remote Work Plan

Your remote work plan should include all the whos, whens, hows and whys. Which team members should move to remote work and when? Under what conditions should your full emergency response plan be implemented? Good plans often fall apart during execution – especially when we panic – so think through these important questions ahead of time.

Train Team Members on the Plan

Creating a plan isn’t enough. For an emergency response plan to be effective, your team members need to know how to implement it. At the very minimum, they should be briefed on the plan because it represents a big shift in their daily routines. Your team leaders should know the plan inside and out and be ready to answer any questions that might come up. Stress test your plan with a small group of employees, first all in the same team, and then spread across several teams. If there are any remaining gaps in your plan, they’ll be obvious at this stage.

Ask for Feedback

Finally, ask for feedback and seriously consider it, no matter what role or seniority level it comes from. Every employee in your organization will have valuable insights for how to make a shift to remote work easier and more efficient. Things that seem obvious to front line customer service workers are rarely visible to executives, and vice versa.

In our next post, we’ll outline how to develop an emergency response plan for a fully remote team.

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