In the coronavirus era, remote working has become the new normal. Here, six leaders reveal how to empower a remote workforce in the long-term
When describing the realities of the ‘new normal‘, remote working has a significant role to play, and how to empower a remote workforce in the long term, will become one of the great challenges for business leaders.
In the short term, when coronavirus hit and the resulting lockdown ensued, businesses reacted quickly and put together an amalgamation of different solutions — some that were enterprise ready and some that were not.
Moving forward, organisations will need to embrace enterprise-ready and secure remote working solutions to empower a remote workforce, and evolve their business strategy when it comes to working and productivity.
To find out how to empower a remote workforce in the long term, Information Age spoke to six leaders.
Some discuss the importance of collaboration, communication, tooling, CRM and the cloud, while we begin with how Bloomberg has empowered it’s remote engineers during the Covid-19 lockdown.
1. Bloomberg case study
“More than ever, collaboration is critical to productivity and high quality work, inclusion is important to ensuring that our colleagues feel connected and valued, learning is essential to helping us grow, and acting as stewards will ensure that we have accountability for our work,” says Wayne Barlow, head of engineering, Market & Community Applications at Bloomberg LP.
To this end, Bloomberg took several proactive measures to support its engineering colleagues around the globe.
Barlow explains: “We’ve made numerous resiliency and virtual training resources available, including tips on productivity, how to make the most of remote meetings, personal health and mental well-being, as well as recommendations about educational resources for those with children. We’ve also strongly advised team members to take time away from their laptops and phones to truly decompress.
“Our software engineers are encouraged to use internal collaboration tools, like our Instant Bloomberg (IB) chat function or internal video communications platform, to stay connected to colleagues from home. We’ve also enhanced knowledge sharing within teams — information they typically get by walking over to someone’s desk — by writing down common workflows or examples of common code usage patterns or tests in a shared workspace, in addition to improving software development processes to make projects work-from-home friendly.
“For example, things that are automated, which require a single button press, are easier to explain remotely (or require no explanation) instead of very manual processes. ‘Just click this button’ is easier to explain than ‘First, configure your development environment by running this script in the home directory, then take these complicated steps’.”
A remote working guide: how can UK businesses thrive in Covid-19 lockdown?
2. Communication and tools
The main way to do this, he suggests, is through communication and tools.
“Business leaders need to make sure that they are communicating effectively with remote workers. This doesn’t mean to inundate them with calls that makes them feel they aren’t trusted. It’s about strategic engagement to ensure they feel supported. A good option for this is a morning kick-off call to identify daily objectives, where employees can ask for help if they need it,” he says.
The second factor in empowering the remote workforce is through the right tools.
“We can only be effective when we have the right hardware, like phones and laptops, system passwords and telephony software, so we can seamlessly connect in the same way, as if we were in the office. A reliable and fast home broadband provision is also key — many companies the extra mile by paying for their employee’s connection,” Leach adds.
He also believes that collaboration should be viewed in a much broader concept.
Philogène explains: “Organisations need to look at technology and processes that enable teams to carry out asynchronous work too. For example, collaboration tools that allow teams to work on projects together without being present at the same time can empower individuals to manage their own schedules.