As Covid-19 tears across the country, social distancing has become the ‘new normal’.

Government advice is clear: wash hands, keep 2m apart, and where possible work from home.

That means the number of UK’s remote workers has just leapt from 1.3M to—well, everybody, as thousands of UK companies shift from traditional systems to tech-based working solutions in a matter of days.

There’s no denying it’s gonna be chaotic. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And it definitely doesn’t mean you need to shut down your normal processes.

Because thanks to tech, remote working can be a total breeze. 🍃

So how does it work?

In this ultimate rundown we’ll take you through how to support employees (plus apprentices) from afar, find the tech that’ll make your life SO much easier, and figure out the best practices to ensure business continues (almost) as usual.

Table of Contents

How to ace the remote working switch-around

  1. Spread the love: Prioritise employee support 💞
  2. Choose your tech wisely
  3. Master the art of remote leadership
  4. Remote hire like a pro

Keep calm and carry on

How to ace the remote working switch-around

1. Spread the love: Prioritise employee support 💞

First thing on your list (as always) is your employees: full-time, part-time and apprentices.

It’s your job to make sure they’re not just safe and healthy (though that is super important) but also happy and able to ace their daily tasks from home.

Here’s how to support your employees from remote-working day one:

  • Make sure they have all the equipment they need: Practical needs first: make sure your employees have laptops/hardware, Wi-Fi and a quiet space to work. That last one’s not always possible (unfortunately you can’t stop stir-crazy kids crashing into the mix for a whole lot of your employees right now) but you can at least offer some advice on how to balance work v family.
  • Set up a catch-up calendar straight away: Homeworking is probably new for most of your employees and especially your apprentices. Set up a catch-up calendar from day one and check in regularly to see how they’re coping. Once a week is enough, with the option to connect via email if they need extra support.
  • Implement group coaching: Your apprentices are used to having regular coach sessions, now ain’t the time to take that away. If you’ve got the right apprenticeship supplier, they’ll ensure your apprentices continue to get everything they need from afar.
  • Create an inter-colleague network: Catching up at the water cooler is no longer an option—unless you morph the water cooler into an online forum or Facebook group. Online groups can be used for minor queries, catch-ups or hilarious toilet-roll memes.  Remember to assign an admin to keep things ticking over (and professional).
  • Keep your comms clear: This is a time of massive uncertainty. Reassure your employees with clear, concise communications about what remote working involves, how to ace it and, of course, how to stay safe. Think: Easy to read 1-page docs on each subject. Don’t overdo the info and keep it light-hearted where possible.
  • Get your Mr Motivator hat on: Some of your employees will find it super difficult to stay motivated at home—especially with so many major changes happening. Try recording some quick, funny videos on staying motivated. Encourage dedicated work spaces, daily routines and even mini-rewards (everyone deserves a donut after finishing difficult tasks, right?!)

2.  Choose your tech wisely

Despite 2020’s dubious start, we’ve still got a lot to be thankful for. And technology is definitely up there on our gratitude list. 📝

From social media to video conferencing, there are a whole lot of remote-working tools out there ready and waiting to be used.

  • Quick messaging: It already has over 1.5 billion users, but for remote working Whatsapp really comes into its own. It’s great for quick messaging, sending photos and digital files, and keeping whole teams up to date. Simple.
  • Video conferencing: Whether you need to catch up for a weekly meeting or interview your next dream apprentice, video conferencing is the future. Tools like Zoom, Webex and Skype are all free and easy to use.
  • Recruitment tools: Applicant tracking systems (ATS) help bring your hiring process into the 21st century. If you want to hire like a pro, this tool is for you. Our faves are Breezy and Workable (more on why to continue hiring despite the chaos, later).
  • Project management: From organizing tasks to prioritizing project strands, there are A LOT of tools out there to help make your life easier. Trello and Asana are both awesome visual management tools, plus they’re free (to a point).

3. Master the art of remote leadership

At times like this, teams need strong leaders.

From ironing out uncertainty to lifting the spirits of despondent employees, your teams need you to take charge now more than ever before.

Here’s why:

  • 43% of employees say feeling appreciated makes them more confident.-        
  • Highly engaged leaders increase overall team engagement by 39%.
  • A highly trained team leader can lower absenteeism by 90%.

In other words, great leaders are fully primed to have a tangible positive impact on their teams—and help them cope in the face of Covid-19.

Here are a few pointers to help you be the best remote leader around:

  • Practice what you preach: The best way to keep your team indoors, following the rules and safe from infection is to practice what you preach. Stay inside, stay safe and show your team this is serious.
  • Stay light-hearted (when you can): We all know this is serious stuff but that doesn’t mean it’s got to be all doom-and-gloom 24/7. Stay human and share funny videos or pics with your team to show them how you’re coping in isolation.
  • Sign everyone up to the same tech: Whether an employee chooses to work in full office-wear or just their pants is up to them—what matters is that you’re on the same page about how you run your processes. Choose your tech and make sure the whole team sticks with it.
  • Take wellbeing seriously: Wellbeing should be on the top of your list—and that means staying mentally healthy as well as physically. Check in with your team to see how they’re doing, share top tips for wellbeing and remind your team you’re there for them no matter what.
  • Be strong: Everything’s up in the air right now and your employees are probably feeling pretty vulnerable. It’s more important now than ever before to show your employees you got this—because you totally have. 🙏

4. Remote hire like a pro

In these strange times it can be tempting to panic and freeze your hires. But honestly, that will do way more harm than good.

Not only will shutting your systems mean a whole load of unemployed people stay unemployed, it also means a whole lot of your current recruitment staff are out of a job.

Not cool.

So if hiring freezes are out, what’s in?

Lucky for you, this is 2020 and the hiring tech available is unreal.

From video interviews to interactive pipelines, there are tonnes of options to help you keep on top of your hiring goals and even (*pause for dramatic effect*) improve your systems.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find an awesome ATS: There are A LOT of great choices when it comes to applicant tracking systems. The best ones will help you manage your entire hiring process in one place, automatically post to the top job boards and connect with candidates at the click of a button.
  2. Utilize job boards: Most companies already post job ads on online boards like Indeed and Glassdoor. Remember the whole country is now indoors, online and thinking about the future. What better time to hire?
  3. Switch to video interviews: Use conference-call tech to schedule video interviews from your home-office. Look for professional candidates who ace their communication skills—but remember when it comes to apprentices, this might be their first interview so tailor your questions to look for potential over experience.
  4. Create a remote onboarding process: Whether your new apprentice starts work in the office or from home, they deserve a strong welcome into the company. Take a look at your current onboarding process and redesign it for a remote newbie. Think: Clear communication, remote-buddies to help them settle in and a relevant workload.
  5. Think to the future: We don’t know how long this ‘new normal’ is going to last. So when it comes to planning your next job roles, plan them as remote jobs that can be easily transplanted back to the office when the day comes.

Keep calm and carry on

The world as we know it has changed—it’s new, scary and uncertain.

But change is an inevitable part of life that top companies are designed to respond to.

And when it comes to remote working, this is the perfect chance to test your systems, check your processes and invest in time-saving technology.

With the right attitude, your teams will become more resilient, more in-tune and more awesome than ever before.