Melissa Swartz | No Jitter | June 8, 2020

The mad scramble to remote work is over. Now the “return to work” process is beginning, and that brings many questions.

Before moving forward, take a moment to assess your situation.  It should help you gain some clarity on the best path forward.

Here are some guidelines.

1. Consider what went well, and what didn’t, during the transition to remote work. Did your existing technology meet your needs? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?  Document your lessons learned.

2. Now that the transition is complete, what are your current pain points? Ask your team and your users what obstacles they are facing, as well as what successes they have found.  Identify any capabilities that have emerged as “must have” tools going forward, and those that are no longer needed.  This is a good time to do a survey and find out what people are thinking.

3. Assess your costs.  This can be hard because there are many areas to consider.  Here’s a list to get you started:

    • Cost per seat and licensing for cloud services for communication
    • Collaboration tool licenses (if separate from above)
    • Connectivity costs (VPN, internet, appliances, software or management tools, cost of home internet for remote workers if company paid)
    • Devices (cell phones, laptops)
    • Hardware (web cams, headsets, home office setup if company paid)

4. Determine your status regarding your current contracts for services.

    • When do they expire?
    • Do they automatically renew? Do the rates increase at that time? What is the impact to your cost structure above?
    • Are there any penalties if you terminate an agreement before it expires?
    • Are you satisfied with the provider or do you want to change?

5. Decide if you want to continue using your interim solutions (if any), or evaluate options now that you have a better idea of what works best for you.  While change is not easy, it will be easier to change now than to wait.

6. Evaluate your support.  What were the common questions and recurring issues?  Address these by create FAQs, video instructions, etc. and make them available to users and your support team.

7. Did you discover any training gaps? What training is needed by your team?  By your end users?

8. Look at your staff.  They probably put in a lot of long, stressful hours in the mad rush to enabling remote work.

    • Who was critical? Who stepped up? Is it time for some rewards or recognition?
    • What skills turned out to be critical?
    • Are there gaps in skills on your team?  Do you need more of this, less of that?

9. Assess your collaboration tools.

    • In addition to conferencing (audio and video) and screen sharing, do you need whiteboarding or persistent team collaboration spaces?
    • Is there one solution that will fit your organization, or do some areas need specialized tools?

10. Take time to create necessary documentation, especially for processes created on the fly during the transition, including configurations and workflows.

11. Do any back-end processes need to be developed or revised? Here are areas that may require evaluation:

    • Are there any tools that employees utilize that require an on-site presence?  For example, many time clocks require an employee to be on site to record their time in and out. Do these tools need to be modified or replaced to support remote workers in the future?
    • Who determines which employees work remotely and how often?
    • Are there jobs that can’t be done remotely?
    • Does your company want to employ surveillance tools to ensure productivity?
    • Are any changes needed for employee evaluation standards?
    • What rules are different when participating in or managing remote teams?
    • Should you implement a “Remote First” policy that assumes all meetings will have remote attendees? This will require including conference information in all meeting invitations, and changing the way meetings are run to include remote attendees more fully.
    • Are any additional tools needed?

To conclude, think about your environment once people are back in the physical work space. How will it be different? What tools and processes must be implemented to support the changing circumstances? Will you have two conditions (on-site and remote) to support going forward? What tools or technology do you need to simplify and make it seamless? Once you have these answers, you’re likely to adapt rather swiftly.

Click here to get a worksheet that walks you through this evaluation process.