To stop the further spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, more and more people are working from home or out of the office. People work wherever the risk of infection is lower than in open-plan offices or company premises. This has more advantages than just being a response to COVID-19. Travel times are eliminated, significant amounts of CO2 are saved, and employees can continue to work, together with colleagues from around the world. The technical possibilities range from online exchanges between two people, to meetings with several colleagues and partners, to webinars and completely virtual events.
Work is something you do and not a place you go to!
“Remote work is easier than you think, you just need up-to-date technology and the courage to adapt,” says Detlev Artelt, eco topic expert for remote working and author and editor of numerous publications on the topic. “The novel coronavirus is currently motivating many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to become more courageous and to introduce appropriate working models.” Artelt suggests five simple steps to provide practical assistance to companies:
In order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization, SMEs need the courage to adapt. For example, an appraisal should not be based on an employee’s attendance record, but on the results of their work. Openness for new things is a prerequisite for really living digitalization in the workplace.
2. Develop a concept
Part of a considered approach to introducing remote working models is to analyze which employees in the company could and should work remotely. When analyzing the status quo and drafting a target-oriented concept, managing directors or IT managers should work with specialists. The required know-how is either available internally or can be provided by external consultants.
3. Create the environment
To be productive remotely, employees need quiet workplaces. An ergonomic place is also important, i.e. a suitable chair and table, as well as sufficient light. Ideally, work equipment such as laptops and mobile phones should be locked away during leisure time. This requirement can be met by various locations, such as the home office, co-working spaces, or mobile offices.
4. Provide infrastructure
What is a must is a stable broadband Internet connection. A download rate of just 6,000 megabits is sufficient for productive work. If the job involves viewing or editing graphics or even videos, at least 16,000 megabits should be available. Data should be stored online in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or only accessed on the company’s IT infrastructure via VPN. There are many advantages to cloud services, which are increasingly replacing the old company server. There are also plenty of free services for online meetings. Also important are a good headset and a usable camera, which are already integrated in newer laptops.
5. Lead by example
If these prerequisites are met, productive cooperation is successful if everyone is involved – including the management team. Regular formal meetings in larger groups for online exchange are just as much a part of this as the continuous exchange between team members. Regular online contact is the equivalent of a conversation in the hallway or at the water cooler. Managing locally distributed teams is a task that management should not underestimate. But promoting the exchange of ideas among all colleagues pays off ¬– experience shows that productivity and work results will soon be higher than in times when there was a strict obligation to be present in the company.
While, in light of COVID-19, every step towards remote work can help companies ride out the turbulence ahead, in any case these 5 steps offer some guidance on how to implement digitalization in your company in the medium to long-term. Do not just think about “going virtual,” but use the current situation and take action.
Read more from Detlef Artelt in dotmagazine.
Further information on the topic will be offered in the eco Academy webinar Bricks, Bytes & Behavior (in German), taking place on 12 May 2020. Please register here: https://www.eco.de/akademie/webinare/
We will publish further articles on the topic in the coming weeks.