Collaborating and communicating remotely
Why this is a Key Area during COVID-19:
Your team needs to be able to work together to stay productive — your business and the economy depend on it. The collaboration and communication tools you choose and how you use them set the stage.
Shoot to recreate the feel of being in your office environment. Platforms should be secure (critical when discussing business), deliver high-performance, and, ideally, integrate with your back office platform so email, files, voice, etc. all work together. Your tools should meet your business requirements rather than the other way around. You’ll likely run into problems later if you try to change your business requirements to fit a particular platform.
Fine-tuning once you’ve transitioned to remote working:
By now, your organization has likely settled into a remote-working routine (see below for do’s and don’ts about the basics). Now is the time to evaluate how you’re doing so far and to start looking at related short-, medium- and long-term strategies. You can ask:
- What has been working successfully and are there any outstanding obstacles or issues we need to address? Ex: IM archives, video-conferencing security, real-time document collaboration, call quality issues, slow platforms or internet during peak times.
- How does our team feel about our current processes?
- Do we plan to continue using these processes in the future or would it be wise to invest in improvements to be ready for a second (or third) pandemic wave?
- How could what we’ve learned about our teleworking experience translate into better strategies and budget decisions moving forward?
Managing the basics during COVID-19:
For a real-life example, see below.
Choose a secure Instant Message (IM) platform. It’s best to establish a unified IM policy upfront and choose a platform that shows user availability because schedules are fluid.
Use a full-featured, secure meeting platform. It should accommodate the number of participants normally present in your meetings and allow access to the materials they need.
Make sure the platforms are flexible. They should allow your team to work with customers as well as with each other and allow you to add or remove seats as needed.
Get headsets for everyone. It’s best to keep business communications private from other people who may be in the room. Headsets block out distractions, too.
Have a workable phone system option if your organization uses landlines. Use call forwarding in a pinch.
Don’t use the chat platform you like best for personal use. Employees need to be accountable for the business information they share.
Don’t assume people are working regular hours. They may have children at home or have to work at night to accommodate other responsibilities during the crisis.
Don’t forget to configure your availability settings. It’s important to let people know when you are and aren’t working.
Don’t get frustrated if attendees pause their end of communication during a session. Working at home sometimes involves having to deal with unexpected family responsibilities.
Don’t save meeting transcripts or recordings on your home computer. Instead, save them to the company’s network or cloud.
An example of how to manage this key area
A health services provider needed much of its workforce to use their own devices while working at home. Many employees had devices they could use but did not have the required Virtual Private Network (VPN) software client installed — without it, they would not be able to communicate and collaborate securely. By creating a standardized VPN configuration and a how-to document and video to go along with it, Leapfrog had the 300+ employees who needed VPN access up and running within a few days.