Concerns over coronavirus, or COVID-19, have spread to global proportions. The Federal government has imposed travel restrictions, as have many large corporations, and countries are closing borders worldwide. 

Here is where technology can make a direct impact on our health and well-being – literally saving lives while at the same time keeping the workforce productive. The CDC recommends, For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.

In addition to providing a means of keeping your employees safe from coronavirus, telecommuting programs – especially those featuring enterprise collaboration technologies – can enhance employee work-life balance, increase productivity, reduce corporate overhead costs and shrink the corporate carbon footprint. 

Whether you have a telecommuting program in place, are looking to boost your existing program, or need to get started on implementing a program – quickly, here are our Top 5 Telecommuting Tips. 

1. Need what you have and have what you need. 

Make sure your employees have all the tools and technology they need, preferably before making the transition from a corporate work environment to a remote telecommuting program. Current events are forcing a compressed timeframe for shifting to remote work, so adopt a tiered approach with must have, nice-to-have, and can do without” technologies to evaluate how to make a speedy but efficient transition. 

2. Ensure knowledge-share on your most valuable tools. 

In keeping with the tiered approach, make sure your employees understand how to use your top-tier tools for maximum productivity. Your collaboration tools are only as effective as the employees who understand how to schedule and execute a video call and/or share documents and applications with multiple team members in different locations. Provide access to instructional videos or remote training for those who aren’t familiar with the tools they will be using the most to keep productive at home. 

3. Encourage scheduling transparency. 

A transition to working from home has the advantage of flex schedules for greater work-life balance, but you want to ensure your employees are either at their desks during regular business hours or working on an approved flex-schedule. Collaboration software can share calendars across your organization, but this is effective only if the users are keeping schedules up-to-date and available. Presence notifications can be invaluable, providing that people sign inBe clear about your expectations on employee availability and transparency, especially in special circumstances, such as a school closing. 

4. Protect your data. 

It goes without saying that security should be a top priority, both within your organization and for outside collaborative communications. If you are transitioning a large number of employees to a remote work program, ensure that you have sufficient measures in place to keep your data and intellectual property safe. These measures range from super simple – keep personal and professional emails separate, do your work on a separate computer, not your teen’s gaming computer – to high-tech encrypted VPNs available from an industry service provider. These measures should also apply to any external entities, such as members of your supply chain, who may also be implementing telecommuting programs.  

5. Support regular and open communications. 

Physical distance from your workplace doesn’t need to mean isolation from your colleagues. Videoconferencing makes virtual face-to-face meetings easy and keeps employees from feeling like they are cut off from water-cooler conversations. Encourage community within your organization despite what might seem like a sudden transition to separateness. Leverage presence to encourage quick checkpoint meetings on fast-ball projects and regular town hall-style meetings for company-wide updates. These are small changes which can have a momentous impact on keeping employees feeling like they are part of your corporate community. 

Coronavirus presents us all with the sobering reality that life-altering challenges can appear at any time. Fortunately, technology presents us with a means of avoiding, or at least lessening, this threat. We wish all of our customers and partners in the Yorktel community the best in staying safe during this difficult time. 

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