In this difficult period of containment, remote working, which is developing in the world but in a variable way across countries, is needed for most of the workers. In the world remote working concerns regularly or occasionally 29% of the workers in France, 36% in the USA, 43% in India, 41% in Australia, but only 9% in Japan.  

Setting up remote working

The first question to ask before setting up remote working in your company is material: are remote workers able to get all the equipment and infrastructure needed for their activity? This ranges from the PC that needs to be equipped with appropriate software, including collaborative software, to instant messaging, video conferencing tools and also security aspects to be taken into account, especially the management of passwords or WIFI which are not always well secured. Contact your manager to ensure these conditions are fulfilled.

The second question, and certainly the most important, concerns the development of a supportive working environment at home, especially in a complex environment like this one. Before thinking about the organization of one’s working time, and the necessary managerial adaptations, it is important to define the framework in which remote working will take place, and to establish some habits within the home. At first, it is essential to question the space that will be dedicated to remote working. Some people are lucky to have a room already reserved for work, for others it will have to be done in their living room or bedroom for example. It is important to choose an area that is exclusive to working time, which favors concentration, organization, and motivation. So, it is better to choose a space with a table and a chair, rather than just working from your sofa. Once the workspace has been defined, it is necessary for anyone who lives in containment with relatives, and particularly children, to define some rules. These rules should relate to the time dedicated to the other members of the family, the conditions under which a request is justified, working schedules…

Setting a frame It is also important to be aware of your priorities.

Even if the work is done at home, it is nevertheless a priority. Domestic activities should therefore not encroach on working time. In addition, working from home should not prevent taking breaks. Although the current containment does not allow us to move outside, going outside for a few minutes to get some air in the garden, on the balcony, or even at the window will have a beneficial effect on morale, and will facilitate concentration when the break is over. Scheduling breaks, lunch or even the end of the day allows you to maintain a framework and order in your day. These breaks are also an opportunity to change your mind, to consult your social networks or some media. This entertainment is tempting but it should be limited to break time, at the risk of affecting its productivity. It may thus be wise to delete certain applications during working time, or to work remotely from the television for example. In addition, taking a break in a different room from your work space is recommended, in order to make a real break.

Favoring the interactions

Once the organizational issues have been resolved, then the question of remote management arises. In this already anxiety provoking context, the role of the manager is all the more central than usual. Containment can be difficult for some team members and it is important to maintain a social link and interactions between the different working groups, and the collaborators. Thus, communicating through telephone exchanges or videoconferences, and not only by email, will allow employees to feel involved, engaged and present, despite the distance, and positively impact their motivation. This social link concerns, of course, formal interactions, but also applies to informal interactions, which constitute an important part of interactions within a company. For example, the Generix Group HR team has set up an “e-café” on video conference every day at 4:00 p.m., thus maintaining informal ties between employees.

Training in collaborative tools

In order to maintain this social link, and to be able to work efficiently remotely, it is also necessary to set up a collaborative tool. This must be done quickly, and it is recommended not to be scattered, at the risk of not navigating. It will then be wise to choose a tool that meets all the needs of the company, and to focus only on the use of it. The use of a new tool however requires training employees, in order to avoid the occurrence of problems later on (impossibility of an employee to share an important document, employee who does not know how to connect to videoconferencing…). Training, through a practical guide, a video or even a conference call will be required, as well as a time dedicated to tests and questions. It should also be remembered that you should be very cautious with security issues since the current environment is conducive to cyber-attacks, so employees must be warned of this point and be vigilant.

Social interactions and collaborative tools must be integrated within the logic of organizing remote work with control. Organizing and updating each employee’s tasks are part of the management priorities, and their progress allows us to assess the productivity and performance of employees, especially to ensure the survival of our companies. In addition, a strategy and a method must thought out and implemented in order to maintain employee motivation. For this, you should provide regular and useful feedback and develop a rewards system that favors positive results and behaviors.

Preserving employers’ health

In fact, if some methods and guides can help set up remote management, there is not ONE miracle model. Each company, work team, business sector, and each person must certainly adapt, but also think and put in place what suits them best, while taking into account the interest of all. Finally, keep in mind that isolation can affect the mental health of some of your employees. The manager’s role also lies in his ability to identify an employee in need (no participation in the e-café, little answer on the phone, low use of instant messaging, etc.), and to offer him help, through specific remote support. The role of the manager is key to the success of his team, even more in the context of remote working. 

All the points mentioned above are necessary, but it is above all by creating a strong mindset of mutual responsibility within his team that the manager will fully achieve his mission. This will foster a better team cohesion with members who will be delighted to be back at the office after this remote working phase!  Paragraphe

Pierre MAURIN Partner ALHAMBRA International – COO SKILFI & Mathilde PHILY Consultant SKILFI