Whether you believe that the coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic and the potential repercussions are being exaggerated or not, authorities worldwide are taking special precautions to stop it from spreading. In various countries and even areas of the United States, preventative measures have included shutting down schools and businesses.
I am writing this article from the perspective of a human resource and business manager in the United States. The intent of this article is to shed some light on tactics to use when operating business in traditional companies, and how we can work remotely when it’s not possible to go to our offices.
The Coronavirus Impact on The Tire Industry
The coronavirus is certainly impacting operations in the United States. At least two of our confidential premier clients are currently on hiring freezes throughout the US. These decisions took place prior to the first case coming to the US and were made in part due to their having numerous employees trapped or quarantined globally. Other businesses within the tire and automotive industries have placed a hold on travel indefinitely until they can be sure that having their employees travel will not further exacerbate the spread of the virus among their co-workers and vendors.
Speeding up to today, March 9, 2020, we are watching as fear spreads across the country with the first sets of patients and victims within the continental US being announced. This is just the beginning of the impacts that this coronavirus will have on local and international economies, but there is some good news:
That is that depending on the kind of business you run, closing up shop does not have to mean halting operations.
Remote Work to The Rescue
I’ve read several headlines that companies across the U.S. are forcing employees to work from home to curb the spread of COVD-19.
Forcing may not be the right word. I speak to countless professionals who wish they could work from home, and this has been the case way before this latest pandemic became a concern. So many of them have long recognized the potential value of working from home or working remotely, with getting more family time in and decreased commute times and costs being two of the most sought after possibilities.
While remote work isn’t anything new, a so-called remote work revolution has been underway to make it go mainstream for at least seven to ten years now.
Companies without a main physical address have played a significant part in this revolution, and so have workers that don’t see the value in giving up countless hours of their lives to travel to offices and do the same work they can do from home.
We understand that although some positions must require travel and meetings face-to-face, there are some alternatives. Perhaps some good of this hysteria is that traditional companies will learn to become more tech dependent. Our Tire Talent and altRPO teams are 100% remote. As a business founder, I’ve built multiple remote teams from scratch. I have had to do everything from hiring, choosing and setting up systems, seeking out new business, ensuring customers were satisfied, and managing my teams’ performance.
You may want to allow your employees to work from home due to their children’s school closing or because the COVD-19 outbreak is starting to hit close to home. Or, maybe you’re just that kind of manager that likes to be ahead of the curve.
So, I’m sharing my experience with fellow business managers and leaders that are having to build a remote work process for the first time. If this is not your first time, but you’re looking for ideas on how to develop your business remotely, I also welcome you to read and join in on the discussion.
Setting Up Your Business to Function Remotely
There are thousands of tools built that allow people to work and collaborate online, so we can’t dive into all of them in this article. Each business has different needs, and that’s another reason that we shouldn’t go too deep into discussing specific software. More importantly, we need to talk about what kinds of tools you’ll need to work remotely and be productive.
For clarity, I’ll break remote work tools into three groups. Typically, remote companies at least need one tool or software program from each group to ensure that each team member has visibility of the big picture and the micro-level view of company goals and workflows. This concept allows geographically distributed individuals to continuously function as a part of a whole, and work harmoniously toward common objectives.
Remote Tool Group 1 – Communication Tools
“Without communication, no collaboration can exist.”
This statement is even more true for a remote team. Ensuring that you are on the same page with other human beings requires dialogue, the ability to ask and answer questions, agreement, and the ability to read non-verbal clues when possible.
Communication tools can vary depending upon each remote team’s comfort level and custom, and they include:
- Instant Messaging
- Video Chat and Conference Rooms
- Phone / VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Apps
- Text Messaging
- Virtual Meeting Spaces
- Team Communications Apps
With my teams, I prefer to use a remote team messaging application called “Slack.” Slack* offers free and paid memberships depending on the size of your team and your needs.
Remote Tool Group 2 – Scheduling Tools
While remote work may provide some freedom from rigid schedules, you’ll need structured, pre-planned time to meet with your team for various reasons. In these cases, there’s no need to complicate scheduling, and taking simple measures like sharing calendars can keep everyone in sync. Other examples of scheduling tool capabilities are:
- Team or Workforce Scheduling
- Appointment Booking
- Meeting Scheduling
- Productivity Apps
- Time Tracking Tools
A well-established favorite of my own and colleagues is an app called “Calendly.” This tool syncs with your calendar and allows colleagues and prospects to view and reserve empty slots on your calendar. Once someone blocks off time to meet with you, it’s no longer for anyone else. Your availability displays according to your self-determined time window for taking appointments.
Remote Tool Group 3 – Project Management Tools
Communication is excellent, and so is punctuality. But how do you stay on track for long term-plays?
I have found that remotely distributed teams need a place where they can write down goals, processes, hand over the baton to their colleagues, and track progress. Our team uses an app called Basecamp and Trello.
You can use systems built for this specific purpose, or you can use a program that you already have ‘lying around.’ These would be:
- Database Systems
- Project Management Apps
- Spreadsheet Programs
Planning for the Future
As mentioned before, we’re just starting to see the effects of the coronavirus on everyday life and the business world. In the same way, learning about the tools and necessities for remote work we’ve discussed in this article is just the beginning of changing the way you do business. As developments continue, I will be sharing more information not only on its effects on the tire industry, but also on how to drive productivity for remote hiring and teamwork in general?
What do you think of what’s happening with the coronavirus?
Do you believe it will drive more people to work from home?
Want to talk to the experts at Tire Talent?