The Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Transformation in a Remote Work Environment

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses around the world are implementing remote work policies to stay afloat and resume operations during the transition. Organizations leading digital transformation efforts have the right digital infrastructure needed to support a remote workforce, banking on flexibility and agility. When moving your employees to remote working, here are a few do’s and don’ts to ensure a seamless transition.

Do: Improve Applications for Remote Workers

While a lot of new remote work applications have cropped up since the onset of the pandemic, even already established applications have witnessed an unprecedented surge, especially remote conferencing applications like Slack and Zoom. The uptick in usage during the crisis is providing technology experts with new data and feedback to help improve these applications for future iterations. AI needs data for training and the exponential increase in the data volume makes it perfect for machine learning models to provide a better user experience. For instance, Al-powered software replaced the need for sales managers to record and listen in on conversations to analyze what was effective in closing deals. These AI platforms record and analyze phone calls and recognize patterns in lieu of managers. Similarly, a lot of AI-software helps organizations manage projects and tasks among a dispersed workforce by helping track progress and measuring risks. In order to accelerate digital transformation, leaders need to adapt processes and applications that facilitate remote workers to do their jobs better.

Don’t: Forget to Train Employees

Giving your employees access to cutting-edge modern technologies is useless if they don’t possess the skills to use them. If you truly want to bring about digital transformation in your organization, you should provide comprehensive training to employees that extends beyond the basics of cloud computing, cyber security, and collaboration software. Bridging the knowledge gap and fostering a digital mindset will help employees adapt to the latest technology. Equip your managers with the right tools, training, and knowledge to lead a digital team and jump-start your digitization efforts. When we talk about remote working, terms like team-building, project management, and communication take on different meanings. You can’t expect your managers who are familiar with in-person management to suddenly shift to an all-digital environment without adequate training and guidance.

Do: Re-imagine Your Hiring Process

LinkedIn stats reveal a 4X surge in the number of remote jobs advertised on the platform since last year. Remote job postings allow organizations to tap into a wider talent pool that they haven’t accessed before which results in a higher diversity of applicants. If you don’t already have remote-working strategies in place, it is time to adapt to this change and restructure your hiring and employee retention policies. If you are looking to attract top talent from around the globe, you need to develop long-term remote work plans, looking beyond the restrictions of the pandemic. It is also time to think about virtual recruiting. Chances are that you have previously experimented with remote assessments and video interviewing before, but it is time to make them common practice.

Like it or not, virtual recruiting is here to stay and companies need to adopt cutting-edge technologies that make the process engaging and seamless for candidates. In addition to recruiting and developing talent, organizations also need to look into ensuring employee well-being if they want their star-performers to stick around. To make telecommuting work in your favor, understand the power of virtually staying connected – be it checking in on your employees to see how they are doing, staying connected on face time with your teammates, or hanging out with colleagues on social platforms.

Don’t: Forget Your Employees

Looking beyond the numerous advantages of remote work for both employees and employers, you should also keep in mind that your employees are social creatures. Most people feel isolated and distanced from the organization when working from home. The most effective teams are those that share a sense of purpose and camaraderie – something that is easier to foster in a physical work environment. It’s important to virtually facilitate those personal connections among team members. Be it virtual water cooler chats or remote team building activities, invest in whatever it takes to keep your remote teams engaged and socially connected.

Do: Maintain Regular Communication

It’s common for remote employees to feel disconnected from their organizations and more than half the employees attribute effective communication as the most essential element to their transition to remote work. By effective communication we mean communication that is frequent, transparent, and consistent. These communication principles are especially critical to maintain when you are dealing with a distributed workforce. First things first, organizations need to increase the frequency of communication, perhaps by instituting more face time with employees or having leaders hold one-on-one meetings with their teammates. Use an instant messaging or communication platform to help facilitate this.

Employees also want leaders to communicate their decisions regarding board feedback, financial impact of COVID, and any other important policy change company wide. It’s important to clarify the rationale behind those choices as well. Employees may be more partial to video updates and webinars than emails when it comes to regular communication. Give your employees a medium to share anonymous feedback, express their concerns, and pose questions in real time. At the onset of the pandemic, some companies created COVID-19 response teams tasked with addressing employee concerns and communicating the answers quickly.

Don’t: Micromanage

What we need in the midst of a raging pandemic are more self-regulating teams with good collaboration and communication skills. The agile methodology inherent in a remote working environment helps high-performing teams surface. This means empowering your employees to align and make autonomous decisions when necessary via remote contact. There is no need for redundant meetings and zoom fatigue, which leads to nothing more than negativity and stress. By letting your employees make their own decisions instead of breathing down their necks at all times, you create a productive and creative environment. Not to mention, by cutting down on needless meetings, you give employees more time to look after their mental and physical health. Let your employees revel in the new “free time.”

Do: Encourage work Flexibility

Remote working is all about letting employees choose how, when, and where they work, helping them find the perfect work-life balance. Not to mention, different employees have different lifestyles and needs, so it makes sense to offer them flexibility around how they structure their workdays. Employers should go a step further to include flexible scheduling, which includes the freedom to set start and end times, split-shifts where employees can start working earlier in the mornings and continue later in the evenings with a large break in between, and time banking, where an employee can work less one week and make up for it the week after.

The main goal of flexible scheduling is to facilitate remote employees to thrive in both their personal and professional lives. Some employers are even experimenting with four-day workweeks and flexible vacation policies where employees can structure their work week around children’s online classes, doctor’s appointments, house chores, and other personal commitments, without having to put in a request every day.

Don’t: Let People Choose Their Own Products

When it comes to devising remote work strategies, productivity, time management, and communication apps play a key role in conducting day-to-day business. Companies that do not a have a technology plan in place leverage a variety of products to accomplish those tasks. The problem with having employees choose their own video conferencing platforms or collaborations tools is that it creates friction within teams and can impact productivity. Imagine the headache of bringing together employees who are using different technology platforms to work together and connect quickly. Moreover, this shows a lack of direction and team vision, which further effects productivity and teamwork.

Do: Protect Company Data

Until you equip your employees with the right technology needed for remote working, they will find their own solutions. These IT workarounds can prove to be damaging to your organizational data and introduce a horde of security vulnerabilities, making your organization prone to mass-scale data breaches. As remote working becomes the new norm, security experts warn about the dire security threats of this arrangement. Employees could be working on personal devices or using home networks, exposing your company to risks. For instance, a cybercriminal could use an employee’s unsecured personal device to gain access to an organization’s data. As part of the telecommuting arrangement, provide your remote workers with VPN to deter cybercriminals from intercepting sensitive conversations or accessing in-transit data. Companies should also fortify employees’ devices with updated cyber security tools to nip threats in the bud. Last but not the least, establish disaster recovery protocols to recover data in case of disruptions, unplanned outages or cyber-attacks.

About the Author:

Irfan Ak is an experienced digital & content marketing strategist at Branex, a pro app development company He is a regular contributor on various websites. He has worked with several brands and created value for them.

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