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How to transfer your business to a remote location due to coronavirus and not break anything: Skyeng experience

The spread of the coronavirus around the world has forced many companies to switch to remote operation. But how is this implemented in practice? How to properly monitor the work of employees, how to solve work issues and hold meetings? We provide answers to these and other questions in the article

The forced need to switch to online mode has put many company executives at a standstill. How is it painless for a business to switch to remote if this practice has not been used before? We have 90% of our employees working remotely all the time, so all my advice is absolutely practical.

Preparing the it service

1. Setting up remote administration

The first thing to do is to set the task for the it service to quickly install teamviewer/any analog + VPN on the computers of all employees. This is critically important, since few employees will be able to install and configure the software themselves — they will need help, and also remote.

If your employees work with laptops, there will be no problems. And if you have computers, then it specialists must figure out how to get to people’s personal devices and install software there. You may need a VPN to solve security problems.

2. We solve the problem with the technical support of employees

Almost everyone has laptops/computers, but most likely you will need to provide properly working headsets (headphones + microphone). One of the most frequent problems on udalenka is poor-quality sound during work calls. In extreme cases, you can just give your employees a list of recommended models and pay for their purchase.

3. We provide Internet access

The second problem point of remote work after iron — poor Internet. It is quite simple to solve it. Make an order to access the Internet only from a fixed home line (including via home Wi-Fi). And start controlling it strictly. For high-quality remote work, mobile communication, cafes or hotels are not suitable.

Preparing software

Required software

The quality of remote work directly depends on the availability of the necessary software. Here is the minimum, if you do not use it (even the entire first item), full-fledged remote work is impossible. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that employees have access to all these tools.

General chat for the company

Standard messengers, such as Telegram or WhatsApp, are only suitable for very small teams, it is better not to use them. Alternatively, install Slack or Microsoft Teams. Discord is suitable for small teams (it is a convenient chat and call tool at the same time).

Video call tool

Standard Skype to help everyone. But in addition to it, it is better that you have a couple of alternative options. For example, Zoom or Hangouts. You don’t even have to buy the paid version — the free version is enough for you. But it is important:
The video must be enabled.
We learn to fumble the screen. This gives a 100% boost in data transfer speed.
Call agreements are made via chat and entered in the calendar.
For important calls, we save records.
Individual work calendar

Employees must enter all work calls in their personal calendars. This is a critical moment, because without a calendar, remote employees will forget about meetings. Ideally, it is better to have a solution with a calendar for everyone (included in Google Suite or Office 365).

Cloud with documents or wiki

Now there are many opportunities for cloud storage of all documents: Google Docs, Office 365, Cloud Mail.ru finally. But it’s important that all work documents are stored in the cloud, not on employees ‘ personal devices. Thanks to the cloud, you can open any document on a shared call and work together in it. In remote mode, there is no way without it.

Mail

Important point: work on remote is not built via email. It can remain a tool for communication with external contractors or partners, but within the company, work issues are resolved in video meetings or in a chat.

Human resources training

Make the transition to deletion documented

How to register depends on the specifics of your company and the specific requirements of regulators to it (for Russia, see the section of the labor code of the Russian Federation “Remote work”).

Create new accounts in all your systems and fill in the basic information. Conduct training, introduce people to the principles and requirements. It is difficult for employees to switch to an unusual format of work themselves, they do not understand what you will expect from them. Therefore, explain as clearly as possible, and at the end of training, ideally, you need to conduct a basic knowledge test.

Principles of effective remote work

If tools are half of the success of effective removal, then working with them correctly and following the basic principles is the second.

No personal matters while working. It is important to inform everyone that the remote employee does not deal with personal matters while working. He explains to his family that he can’t be distracted even for 5 minutes. It is almost impossible to work and keep track of children at the same time. This is the first thing that must be resolved.

Clear working day

Working hours must be the same for the entire company (at least 6 hours per day). Being deleted doesn’t mean that everyone works when they want — it’s not freelance. The schedule also needs to take into account the time for lunch, as well as several short breaks (10-15 minutes each). But during working hours, employees must be available, or agree with the head of a special schedule. However, availability does not mean that you can respond in chats every second, but rather that you can set up an appointment with an employee during business hours.

Efficiency control

You don’t need to make sure that the employee is at the workplace every minute, just monitor the completion of tasks. It is not important that the employee is sitting in front of the computer and creates the appearance of work, but that this very work is being done.

All communication in the chat

Work chat is a very important tool, but you should not require an instant response there, as they are very harmful to productivity. Chat is used for solving simple questions, fixing agreements, and making appointments. It contains all the employees of the company, but it does not turn into a discussion of the weather and food prices.

Only simple questions are solved in the chat. If there is a heated discussion of something, collect a call. Complex issues need to be resolved by voice discussion, not by endless correspondence.

The main life hacks of working with chat: use options for channel names, threads, and emojis. Do not decide General questions in personal messages — use public channels, where messages will immediately see all interested.

The chat has all the necessary information about the employee. Each person’s profile contains their phone numbers and email address. In this case, the chat serves as a public directory of employees.
​Instructions from the work chat

We solve questions on a video call

During remote work, a video call is an analog of the usual plans and meetings in real life. If there is a long discussion of an issue in the chat, you can’t solve it without a video call. But it is not necessary to conduct it as soon as there is a problem. You can simply schedule a meeting and enter it in the participants ‘ calendar as a regular meeting.
​This is how we choose the time to call

All agreements after each video call are recorded in writing directly in the chat.
This is how we fix the agreements after the call

Plan regular video meetings with the entire team, and separately-in person with key employees. This is an important point that will allow you to always stay up to date with your workflow. Meetings should take place at least once a week. If necessary, at least every day. These meetings are also necessarily recorded in the calendars.

In General, this is the main instruction for switching to remote operation. If you want more theory, see my report on remote work at the SECON conference in 2019.

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