In light of current global event such as the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, 88% of organizations around the world have to work from home to help in mitigating the spread of virus. However, many businesses were unprepared, either culturally or logistically, or both while other ones did not put the infrastructure in place necessary to support work from home.
As you see, not every business prepare for “work from home” approach to function easily with their remote workforce. They encounter new challenges as the right equipment, space, and discipline. What’s more, they need to reevaluate their opinion on remote work and find ways to make remote work viable and productive for you and your team. Industry reports and surveys conducted by technology company indicate the following statistical data:
- 83% of workers do not believe they need to be in an office to be productive;
- 88% use smartphones for work daily;
- 43% believe they would be more productive when working from home;
- 70% of those surveyed between the ages of 16–44 tend to be more mobile at work.
With such a positive data, many business leaders and owners still consider remote work as not the right fit for their business. However, with the coronavirus outbreak, millions of businesses are now forced to manage a completely remote workforce. What potential challenges do they face during this global viral outbreak?
Why working from home is bad for business
Here we are going to discover the most prevalent remote work challenges. Let’s delve into details below:
- lack of organization especially if there is a difficulty to separate a room specifically for work;
- working remotely makes it more difficult to establish relationships among colleagues from other departments;
- not having a physical distinction between a place where an employee works and where they spend their free time leads to decreased work-life balance;
- lack of real-time collaboration and misplacing information;
- increased data security risks;
- limited control over how employees perform their job.
But in the current scenario, it’s imperative for companies to jump into the remote bandwagon and follow the checklist provided below in order to be fully prepared for work from home or transform the business processes, especially for companies that are new or unfamiliar with remote working. Let’s keep on reading:
Working from home checklist: Is your company ready?
Below we have prepared some essential information for business leaders to keep in mind and make sure the company is ready for “work from home”. With that checklist, your team leads, managers, IT and team will get ready to work from home by using necessary equipment, tools, and technology to be productive and connected when working remotely.
1. Communicate the remote work policy
Being an essential component for companies with remote employees, a remote work policy creates a company-wide consistency and keeps the entire workforce well informed, especially for those businesses who are just getting started with remote work. Not only does it help your staff to know how to keep data safe and when to respond to others, but also they know their legal rights when working remotely. In a nutshell, remote work policy outlines all aspects of remote work such as expectations of working hours, legal rights, taxes, health insurance coverage and cybersecurity requirements. Also, you should communicate important decisions, timely updates, and working guidelines to assure that messaging will be consistent across different teams. Only by creating a clear policy can you ensure every employee is on the same page and can work productively outside of the office.
What to consider when building the policy
- identify whether the nature of a certain role will impact business success when performed remotely;
- select tools, resources, and strategies needed to work effectively;
- identify who will manage a remote employee(s);
- define how will remote work affect the culture and collaboration among your teams;
- identify how remote work will impact taxes;
- identify how remote work will impact benefits for the company or employees in different states/countries.
Only by taking into account the mentioned above information and discussing the answers with your HR, legal, and finance teams can you create a clear and sophisticated working from home (WFH) policy and deliver smooth transition.
2. Give your staff the right tools for successful and secure work
When working remotely, your employees need the right tools to work securely and productively. Not only do remote employees need a reliable computer or a laptop and a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, but also they should be equipped with the technology that makes them feel engaged and part of the team. In addition to that, these new technologies provide industry concerns regarding cybersecurity. When working on essential company files or private customer data, remote workers need a VPN, firewall or another form of security. It’s imperative to keep cybersecurity concerns top-of-mind to ensure data privacy. That’s why companies need to make sure that every team member has what they need to perform their daily tasks.
3. Make meetings and collaboration effective
In preparation to work-from-home, each team member should be equipped with the software or tools to communicate and collaborate effectively. Using live chat or video conferencing, synchronous screencast recording, or even augmented and virtual reality options brings your remote team closer together and builds meaningful work relationship. That's why investing in the best-of-the-best communication technologies will ensure your remote team can communicate and carry out meetings remotely as if they are sitting right next to each other.
Essential tools that enable your employees to work from home
- Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, TrueConf Online, Skype, FreeConference used to attend virtual meetings with fellow employees, company partners, clients, team leads, etc.
- Asynchronous communication tools such as Slack, Chanty, Glip or Loom allow you to receive, take in, and respond to the information provided on your own time.
- Cloud storage and file sharing tools such as Dropbox, SugarSync, SpiderOak, Apple iCloud, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive used to keep a synced variety of documents and files in the cloud securely.
- Project management tools such as Asana, Trello, Evernote Business, Todoist, Jira, etc. used to assign tasks automatically, allocate resources, track milestones for all project phases.
- Virtual collaboration tools such as Yammer, Slack, Zoom, WebEx, etc. allow remote team members to work side-by-side with in-house staff.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) software as Amazon WorkSpaces, IBM Cloud, Cisco VXI, VMware Horizon Cloud, etc. allows you to run desktop operating systems hosted on a virtual machine that exists on servers.
Also, you should consider what types of communication and collaboration tools work best in the following activities that will bring your team closer together even if they are working remotely:
- manager 1:1s;
- team all-hands meetings/calls;
- daily or weekly standup meetings;
- client kickoff meetings/calls;
- team progress meetings;
- performance reviews;
- employee learning and development activities.
To sum up, this “work from home readiness” checklist will provide your employees with all essential information on how to be successful when telecommuting as well as will help your business to switch to remote working environment fast and easily. However, not all companies have the technology infrastructure structure available to offer work from home capability. That’s why companies should prepare for fast-tracking digital transformation to allow working from home and derive benefits from it.
What digital transformation means for your business
It’s no secret that technologies play a significant role in providing work-from-home options in order not to put business activities on hold. Having that in mind, many business leaders and owners make digital transformation a top priority to run their businesses with a newly work from home scenario. But what exactly digital transformation means for your business? It means the adoption of digital processes and tools to reach strategic business goals. Not only does this complex process represent a significant cultural transition in the workplace, but it also affects every part of your business. Fundamentally, digital transformation is about changing how teams work together, not just what technologies and tools they’re using to get that work done.
Key characteristics of digital transformation
Below we have shared some fundamental characteristics of digital transformation in business:
- Collaborative: with well–defined and transparent operational processes in your company, every team member works together at different company’s levels and is involved in achieving a shared vision.
- Cultural: focus on agile and adaptive organizational culture instead of traditional business structures and hierarchies to keep pace with the change driven by digital transformation.
- Integrated: businesses should integrate IT departments and enhance their cooperation with the strategic management to meet business needs and streamline their IT and infrastructure costs.
- Mobile: with the increased customers’ expectations, businesses need to be mobile, where more than half of all web traffic is generated.
- Innovative: businesses are always focusing on innovative technologies to be adopted across the company.
- Continuous: your business always keeps learning and evolving as technology continues to evolve as well and call for adaptations to current processes.
- Data-driven: collected data allows businesses to analyze and improve internal and external processes, measure what’s happening inside your company.
- Customer-centric: with digital changes, companies can offer better services and deliver a more sophisticated customer experience.
Digital transformation is about creating a collaborative and connected workplace culture using tech solutions that will support strategic goals and help to meet with success.
Why start a digital transformation for your business
With the rapid pace of digital changes today, it’s imperative for businesses to implement technology for digital transformation wherever possible that will help them to grow. Also, digital transformation is necessary if you want to accommodate to work-from-home needs urgently. Below we have provided some reasons to embrace the digital future:
- more engaged employees and improved collaboration;
- increased profits thanks to the adoption of digital strategies;
- replaced rigid structures and redefined processes;
- sophisticated security strategy across all networks, applications and data;
- great operational discipline around business performance.
Step-by-step guide for successful digitalization process
Here we have provided 7 essential steps if you want to transform your business successfully:
1. Assess the current state of digital across your organization
At this step, you should define what the word “digital” means to your company. That’s because every company understands its meaning differently. Then, it’s imperative to assess the state of digital across your company and identify problems in such areas as business maturity, industry, competition, value chain, and ecosystems that can be solved thanks to digital transformation. Typically, digital solutions change how your company operates in the following aspects - decision making, automation, connectivity, and integrated operations. Only by understanding what digital mean and diagnosing the challenges the company faces can you determine the most suitable digital solutions for your company and take the right decisions.
2. Define your digital transformation objectives
Once you’ve identified the problems your organization faces, it’s time to actually define the measurable objectives you will use to guide your digital transformation. Whether you’re going to completely transform your business model or just want to improve some operations, setting clearly defined objectives is a must. The following questions will help you to identify the measurable objectives:
- identify the pain points between where your company is and where you want it to be;
- define ideal digital state of your company;
- select technologies or solutions to get there.
Defining your digital transformation objectives allows you to set up achievable goals and identify what digital transformation can actually deliver.
3. Outline your digital transformation roadmap
At this step, you should develop your digital transformation roadmap. Only by creating a well-designed roadmap can you define a clear vision and outline the core activities to achieve goals with new technology. Not only does the roadmap help you to visualize the major milestones between the current and future state, but also it allows you to better understand the initiatives required to implement to obtain these milestones. What’s more, you should combine a roadmap with research, visualizations and performance goals to keep everyone in the team aligned and be sure that different teams with competing agendas moving in the same direction.
4. Select the right tools and technologies
Correctly assessing the suitable tool still remains difficult for any company. What’s more, determining how to invest wisely in the right tools to transform and deliver value is the biggest challenge. That’s why when choosing the software solutions take into account the ones with the following features like personalization, event triggering, automation or predictive analytics, campaign workflow, real-time decision making, etc. However, in any case it’s imperative to compare the business value of each solution and align the total costs.
5. Establish clear leadership
Companies that recognize the importance of leadership have greater success in digital transformation. But leaders are not required to be the experts or masters of technology. At this step, you should assign a leader who must be open to innovation on all levels and set up a dedicated team. The success of the transformation depends on the leader’s ability to communicate the commercial value of digital technologies and establish it across the company. Not only should a leader align on a clearly-defined vision, but also he/she should provide the team with a jumping-off point, and give it the space and autonomy.
6. Set a realistic budget for your transformation
Obviously, digital transformation doesn’t come without costs. Budgeting for digitalization is a complicated process. That’s why it’s crucial to work out how to make digital success happen while also staying on budget. At this step, companies must redefine the funding structure and change budget approval process to achieve the strategic goals of digital transformation. What’s more, you should keep enough backup funds in case of unexpected budget issues. In addition to that, it’s imperative to have a separate emergency fund source to stay afloat if an utter failure occurs.
7. Empower your staff with digital skills training courses
A radical change as the digital transformation needs a workforce positive towards technological innovation to establish a company mindset that is ready to learn new ideas and techniques That’s why ensure that you have a plan in place for educating your staff at all levels. Only by providing digital skills training courses can you make your staff engaged. Not only does it help you to increase the digital competency of your employees, but also it creates the right culture for digital transformation within your company.
As you see, to successfully complete digital transformation is not an easy process. Each company should be able to determine its own path and establish milestones, timelines and budget to optimally execute it.
Benefits of Digital Transformation for your business
Below you can find out some benefits the digital transformation brings for your company if implemented properly. Let’s take a closer look below:
- you can collaborate in real-time and have engineers engage directly with the customers;
- you can make informed decisions based on data-driven insights;
- you can prevent errors and increase accuracy by automating tedious tasks;
- you can reduce operating costs and improve efficiency;
- you can facilitate internal processes integration.
However, these are not all benefits of digitization that may open new opportunities for your business.
Bottom line: Do you use digitalization to your advantage in business?
Work from home approach comes with a unique set of challenges. But it’s also an opportunity for businesses to transform their business and build a more productive team. Whether you’re working from home temporarily or plan to collaborate remotely long-term, digital transformation comes into play. Not only does it help to increase employee engagement, but also it enables the company to achieve continuity in the experience between the office, the home, and other locations. What’s more, with remote workstyles increasingly the norm, digitization allows employees to connect with their company’s services however and whenever they want to. That’s why it becomes a must for any company. If you are looking to formulate your own digital transformation strategy and need an expert technology partner, we, at DDI Development, can you bring together people, data, and processes to help you successfully transform your business.