By Kendra Olney Lee
The novel coronavirus introduced uncertainty at all levels of life rather quickly. Businesses are rethinking how they’ll operate in the immediate future and what long-term implications the virus will have on their workforce. To meet social distance and self-isolation guidelines, many employers are introducing immediate work-from-home policies. At KLA Group, we’re lucky to be one step ahead. We’ve always been a 100% virtual company.
Why We Chose a Work-From-Home Model
From day one, I knew a work-from-home model made sense. It gives us access to the most talented people, regardless of which state or city they live in. Plus, none of us spend time commuting! We’re able to be more productive – at work and in our personal lives. But, it does take work and the right mindset. I wanted to share what’s made the work-from-home model so successful for KLA.
7 Ways to Successfully Build a Remote Business
There are plenty of upsides to working remotely (like not smelling fish all day because someone reheated last night’s salmon for lunch). But there are obstacles to overcome too, like how to efficiently communicate and collaborate. This goes beyond the email, chat and video platforms you choose. It’s about the policies you establish around those tools and how you build rapport with your team.
1. Make the right hire
In many ways, hiring a remote employee aligns with how you hire anyone else. You’ll evaluate candidates based on the skills they have relative to the position you need to fill. But you also need to gauge how well your potential hire will work autonomously. Ask about their previous remote work experiences. If they’ve always worked in an office, you’ll need to be a little more creative.
- Ask open-ended questions about their leadership experience during the interview
- Create hypothetical scenarios to determine how they’d communicate and work in a virtual environment
- Give candidates an online skills assessment
2. Trust your team
I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have trust in your team, work is going to be strained. It starts with hiring the right people who have the skills that fit the role and will work well within your company culture. You need to be able to trust your employees are actually working without constantly peering over their shoulders or creating a culture of fear.
3. Open communication is key for building trust internally
One of the first decisions you’ll make is how you’ll stay closely connected with your staff. We use Microsoft Teams to chat all the time with each other, but there are other ways to check-in, like text messages or phone calls. I’d recommend checking in daily with employees if possible. If you have a big staff, have team leads do that. The key is to help them all feel they’re still an integral part of the team.
4. Stay in touch with clients
Video conferencing is an easy way to stay in touch with people. We do a lot with video now and recommend it to our clients when they hold virtual meetings. The phone is a good alternative if your team isn’t comfortable with video, but try to steer them toward appearing on-screen. It makes the person they’re speaking with feel more connected. Turning on the camera may be hard for your staff, but it’s good for the client, prospect or partner.
Tip: During a crisis, like COVID-19, develop and launch an email campaign to let people know you’re still there and available to serve them.
5. Be flexible, but set guidelines
To stay productive in a remote environment, your employees and managers will need some guidelines. This will vary based on the culture of your organization, your business model and where your employees are located. As your work-from-home policy goes into effect, make it clear when you expect people to be available and how quickly you expect them to respond to messages. Set parameters for what you share over chat, email and other communication platforms. This will make it easier for your team to know where to look for information and collaborate efficiently.
6. Ensure your team’s network and devices are secure
Cyber risks multiply on a daily basis. Security guidelines are necessary and should be implemented from day one. The exact measures you take will depend on whether or not you need to meet specific compliance regulations or laws, but here are a few tips anyone can (and should) follow:
- Turn on multifactor authentication across all accounts and devices
- Use password-protected WiFi networks
- Encrypt emails and devices to protect data from theft
- Set policies around which devices can be used to access work documents and data (ex: no work email on personal phones)
7. Provide tools people need to work and be productive
Think about how you communicate internally and externally in an in-person environment, then select tools to replicate those systems digitally. For instance, we adopted Microsoft Teams because it enables us to hold meetings, share documents and quickly communicate with team members and clients. We also provide our team with laptops. Issuing hardware may be beyond your budget at the moment, but if you continue with a work-from-home policy in the future, it’s an investment you want to make to enhance security and create cohesion.
Tips from My Team to Yours
Whether you’ve been pushed into remote work or are eagerly adopting the model, I want to share a few tips from the KLA team to help your employees succeed.
If you can, have a separate space for work. Whether it’s a home office, the garage, a large closet or a corner of your dining room, mark off a space that’s work-only. It will help you stay in a productive mindset.
Put a sign on your door when you’re holding calls and video conferences so kids and spouses know to be quiet and stay away.
Keep a business jacket on the back of your chair to put on for video calls. You can also wear a scarf to dress up your shirt if you’re a woman; men can opt for a golf shirt.
Get a bark collar for your dog so it can stay nearby but not make noise!
Use a hands-free mobile headset so you can stand up, pace, move and take notes.
Share your work-from-home tips with us!
Let us know here: firstname.lastname@example.org