If this year has taught us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared. Just last December, the novel coronavirus was a fleeting notion in the news. No one was prepared for the worldwide impact it would have on everything from healthcare to business.
In fact, previously, many companies were reluctant to embrace the very policies, processes, and technology that would have made transitioning to remote work a breeze. Despite the trends and years of warning signs, businesses delayed adopting tools that enable remote work, streamline communication, and automate tasks — that is, until their hands were forced by a global pandemic.
Now, remote work has become the norm for many of us, but there are still plenty of questions about the future of work. Will businesses encourage staff to work from home indefinitely? How many of us will return to the office daily, or even occasionally?
With so many unknown variables, businesses must plan ahead for a workplace that maintains optimal productivity, no matter the circumstances. Today’s business leaders can’t afford to be unprepared.
So, how can businesses pandemic-proof their workforce and daily business operations? Let’s explore some of the tools and processes companies should implement today to prepare for the future of remote work.
Review the Your Technology Stack
Over the last few months, more people worked remotely than ever before. Thanks to technology, plenty of workplaces have been able to telecommute while keeping communication lines open and business running smoothly.
However, many of the business operations implemented during lockdown were thrown together quickly without time for proper planning or testing. Now that we’ve had a chance to adjust to remote work (or partially returned to our offices, in some cases), it’s time to review. and evaluate. Here’s how business leaders should conduct a review of their teams’ tools and processes:
- Start by analyzing your existing tech stack. How are the tools you are currently using impacting productivity? Are they user-friendly? Is there a better option or an area in which you would like to see improvement?
- Explore new software options. If the tools you are using are working well, you’re already a step ahead. But, if not, now is a good time to look into new tools and software that can better serve your team in a remote setting. Investing in new technology and systems today can help future-proof your business.
- Aim to streamline communication and workflows. Consider adopting systems and technology that automate and simplify daily operations. For example, headless CMS could help you update your content swiftly while making life easier for your employees.
- Update documentation for accuracy and clarity. Business processes and documentation should also be scrutinized. If necessary, develop new processes that omit redundancies and document this in a way that’s easy for your employees to reference when they need some guidance.
Next, it’s time to prepare your business and your employees for digital transformation.
Train and Support Your Employees
The pandemic didn’t just impact workplace processes and operations — it also forced employees to adapt to new circumstances and tools. Both on an individual and company-wide level, all of us had to learn and adjust on the go. But right now you have the opportunity to prepare your staff for the unexpected and mitigate future risk for your company.
For instance, you could train employees to handle duties outside their core job description. This ensures there’s always someone who can fill in for crucial roles if an essential team member gets sick or takes a leave of absence. Not only does this safeguard business operations and prevent delays due to unexpected circumstances, but it can relieve some of the pressure on employees to know there is someone to cover for them when need be.
Additionally, you should provide training for the new technology or processes you adopt, especially for remote workers who might rely on it quite heavily. Whether you’re introducing a new internal communication platform or an invoice management tool to streamline accounts payable, take the time to provide training so your team can get the most value from every tool.
You should also consider training your staff on emergency procedures developed in response to the pandemic. Having a contingency plan in place ensures your employees are prepared and know how to respond in a potential emergency.
Optimize Workflows with Automation
Work is bound to be different during times of emergency, but that’s all the more reason to optimize workflows as optimized as possible. The first step is to reduce time spent on busy work or tasks that can be completed faster with technology. In other words, the best way to minimize busy work and speed up repetitive tasks is to use automation.
Start by considering which routine tasks you can automate to streamline your workflow. Prioritize tasks that add the most value to your operation and look for ways to optimize each process. Focus on streamlining and create clear guidelines for your employees to follow so that there’s little room for mistakes or misunderstanding.
Some Final Words of Advice
The future will always be uncertain. But the best way we can prepare for difficult times ahead is to learn from our past. As difficult as the recent lockdown was for individuals as well as businesses, it also proved that we can persevere in the face of unexpected challenges.
So, while it’s impossible to predict the long-term impact of the pandemic or how our workplaces will change in the coming months and years, there are steps you can take today that will protect your business and staff tomorrow. Prepare your employees, arm yourself with the right tools and technology, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities for optimization.