Following this week’s developments, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many of Hawaii’s organizations to transition most, if not all, of their employees to working remotely. For those organizations who have not yet gone virtual because they don’t know how, here is a quick summary of the most basic actions to transition to remote work.
1. Communicate more than usual. As we progress to more virtual work, making communication clearer and documenting it is an essential practice. Draft the immediate messages that will need to go out internally to employees and externally to clients in case of extended quarantine measures, such as the “shelter in place” orders given to some California residents. Communicating to your clients is paramount, but you cannot neglect communicating within your organization. Companies should start getting used to the reality that remote work requires even more communication than face-to-face.
2. Find jobs that can be done remotely. Each manager should look at the people that report to him/her and ask, can this job be done remotely? Some jobs will stand out as easy candidates for remote work, with basic at-home requirements such as a computer with video capacity, internet access and a phone. Managers should document their team’s capability to work from home, writing down what tools they have and what they think they’ll need, or are missing, in order to continue doing their job. Start with the low-hanging fruit.
3. Document it. Writing down every idea to keep your organization humming through remote work will yield a sense of control. Social psychologists like myself call this “self-efficacy” — taking even a small step forward increases one’s confidence in their ability. This best practice also gives your team something to reference.
Having feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious are normal; it’s a stressful time. Every organization will have its unique set of obstacles and limitations. Expect them, but continue to forge ahead. This is an unprecedented time. We are all in this together, and we will get through this better if we can remember to take a deep breath and be extra kind — while maintaining social distance.
Dana Arakawa, Ph.D., is an organizational development consultant on Oahu, who helps organizations successfully navigate change. She can be reached at DanaArakawa.com.