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Can your business afford to give up on a shift to remote work?

By Michael Blonder
Updated February 12, 2024

 

On Thursday, April 16, 2020 The Washington Post ran a story on the front page on the topic of how the public is expressing fatigue with the shift to remote working necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a story titled “The New Normal is Getting Old Fast” Maura Judkis writes:

“The new normal is getting old. When will it end? How will it end?”

A lot of Maura’s story is made up with snapshots of how the daily lives of several people have changed, dramatically. There isn’t mention of the businesses employing these people, but it’s not hard to put together a picture of the kind of matching disruption they, too, have suffered as the result of today’s pandemic reality.

Too bad Maura neglected to challenge her own assumption:

“A month and change. You might have thought we’d have gotten the hang of this stay-at-home thing by now.”

When really basic behaviors have to change, it doesn’t help to be impatient with the pace of the process.

I like to refer to the way businesses and their employees are changing, today, as a very hard pivot. Like other kinds of hard pivots, using it to your advantage requires change management expertise. VisualSP can’t help the people depicted in Maura’s story change their diets, or get their internal clocks into a friendlier mode. But VisualSP can help the businesses and organizations they work for prepare themselves for a realistic change management effort and even deliver a big part of it.

It helps to keep in mind a reality check: We don’t have a choice, presently, on the topic of whether or not we run our business from an office or virtually. Densely populated areas of the world are on lock down. Either shut down your business, or learn to run it, successfully, virtually are the only options.

If you choose to keep going, your business has to work with personnel located remotely. You need to keep in mind 3 important pillars of what will prove to be, over time, an effort with a good likelihood of success:

1) Sample employee morale and apply “Build/Measure/Learn” to maintain as high a level of morale as possible

What’s consistent across Maura’s story is her depiction of people struggling with just how drastic the changes they are being asked to undertake actually are, and how each of them is not happy with the results of their efforts. Business owners should assume these examples are consistent with what their own employees are experiencing from the shift to remote work. They should use a platform like VisualSP to publish inspiring messages, periodically across the web applications employees are using to complete work on a remote basis. The combination of a simple message published on a splash screen (a window placed in the very center of every users display) is a tool you should learn to use because of the benefit it can deliver.

We call the process of publishing these messages a “Tips Campaign”. Topics for tips needn’t be restricted to tech help. Nor does the web application have to be Microsoft SharePoint. The point is the messaging capability and how you can use it to inspire employees to keep working on the changes they need to make to, literally, survive through these very tough times.

Where “Build/Measure/Learn” comes in is as follows: you need to measure the results of your effort and change the message if the data on employee interaction with your message indicates the message is not getting through as you intended. VisualSP includes a comprehensive set of analytics you can use to come up with this data. We provide help within our solution to show you how to use analytics to find the data you need on this point. Bottom line: don’t lose faith in the process if your first attempt at messaging doesn’t get through. Try another until you hit the right one and then add to it over time.

2) Over communicate

Research shows the world of computer displays and on-screen text is a cold one, meaning there is little if any emotional quality to it. But people require emotional stimulation. Without it they can quickly lose heart. So how do you inject emotion into the world of employees all working remotely over computer platforms?

With VisualSP you can use walkthroughs (multi step guides on the computer screen) to introduce employees to the tools they will need to use to successfully complete work from their homes. Taking the time and making the effort to include interactive steps in these walkthroughs and a text note of praise when an employee clicks on a link to proceed to the next step in the guide opens an opportunity for the “a few small steps forward, each day, gets me where I need to be” rule to work its magic.

People need periodic reinforcement to stay on the course of changing fundamental behaviors. Using walkthroughs to structure online rewards help them stay the course, which is what you need to do if you plan on your business weathering the storm.

3) Make the process of using web applications as simple as possible

Since the tools your employees will use to work remotely are different from the tools they used in the office, they need help learning how to use them. Zoom meetings to go over the new platform look great, but employees retain very little of the information communicated during these scheduled events. The best way to help them learn to use new tools is to either skip the ”Zoom meeting at 10am, everyone be there” or support it with bite size chunks of tech help delivered directly in the context of your web application. VisualSP has been used for this purpose since we first introduced our solution in 2012. Over the 8 years since the debut of our help system we have learned what works and what doesn’t. We offer services to our customers to get this done, we are sure they can do it for you too.

 

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If you can cover the bases on the above 3 points you should be able to keep at the task of pivoting your business from physical offices to people working from their homes. If you are located in a densely populated area you have no other choice than to try. Bonne chance!

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