COVID-19: Best practices for remote working

03 May 2020 0 minutes to read Contributors

COVID-19L Work from home

LinkedIn study in October 2019 found that 82% of workers wished they could work from home at least part of the time. The most common reason given was work-life balance. There’s even a sense of inevitability about it as, in other research, 66% of knowledge workers believe the traditional office setting will be obsolete for most roles by 2030.

For many organizations, the threat of COVID-19 has forced them to act much more urgently by asking their teams to work remotely at short notice. It’s a sensible thing to do. We all have a responsibility to protect our employees, their families and the wider community. Home working where possible is now the official guidance from the Dutch Government, and many others.

Over the coming weeks and months thousands of people will be swapping office routines and commutes for home working, perhaps for the first time. Here at SQLTreeo, we’ve always been a smart working company. Every member of our team works remotely.

Take it from us; remote working works. But, it’s not always as easy as it looks. Here are our tips and learnings for making your home work for you.

Get the tech set up and working

At SQLTreeo our entire infrastructure is based on the whole team always having the ability to work remotely. It doesn’t matter where we are, we can always connect with each other and with our customers through Chat, email, phone, Skype or Microsoft Teams. This experience has been a huge benefit when helping our customers work out how to ensure good connections, protocols and systems for their own database environment.

Stay safe and secure

Data security is one of the biggest fears employers have about home working. It’s certainly an issue that needs to be taken seriously, but there are numerous, well-tested ways to mitigate the risks. The most critical factor is to ensure your remote working teams are all aware of the importance of data security and the need to be extra vigilant when storing or sending data remotely.

Other measures could include using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This creates a secure remote connection by routing your home workers internet connection through the VPN’s private server rather than their ISP. Log-in protocols, password managers, encryption and two-way authentication are other useful technologies to enhance remote working security.

Building an open and supportive culture is another important factor. If an employee suspects a potential security risk, they need to feel confident they can tell their employer or manager without fearing blame or any other sanction. That way, you get to mitigate any potential risk early.

Communication is the secret to making remote work a success

We can’t stress this one enough. Remote working can be great for productivity. But, many studies have shown that, particularly in the early days, home workers can feel lonely, isolated and unsure of how to manage their day.

Remote workers need two things to thrive and they both boil down to good communication. The first is effective technology that makes keeping in touch and collaboration as easy as when two colleagues sit side by side. The second is a company-wide understanding that communication is important and ensuring this is part of the culture.

Managing remote workers is completely different to running an office-based team. For most roles, your home working employees probably don’t need to be sitting at their desks for eight, pre-set hours each day. But, they do still need to know what is expected of them.

It’s best practice to agree what results or deliverables are expected. Then set delivery points and review sessions.  Trust plays a huge role here.

Your remote team won’t welcome being micro-managed. But, they may well be missing their colleagues and need reassurance and someone to refer questions to or help solve problems. If it’s a technical issue, that could be your own service desk or a Virtual Database Administrator (DBA) to fill any knowledge gaps. 

Lead by example

Remote working has many benefits. These include improved productivity and employee retention, alongside higher morale, engagement, trust and collaboration. Getting the right technology set up is important, but successful remote working is much more than that. It requires a re-think about the way we work, manage, and lead.

SQLTreeo is living proof that remote working teams can succeed and thrive. This way of working doesn’t even feel ‘remote’ because we connect with each other and our customers digitally. This distinction between social distancing and physical distancing is an important one; just because your team is not physically together doesn’t mean they should be, or feel, isolated.

For us, in our working lives, the corona virus situation is essentially business-as-usual. We are taking it seriously, washing our hands and ensuring we all stay as healthy as possible.

We also have contingency plans, knowledge sharing and back-up if a team member does fall ill.  And, we’re following the official advice of not holding face-to-face team meetings or attending events. We’re doing everything we can to protect our team and ensure we’re always  here for our customers.

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