As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe, shuttering schools and public services, many organizations are faced with a new question. How can we navigate operations in a landscape that is so different from our norm?

Fortunately, with a little ingenuity and creative problem solving, businesses can thrive. With so many employers and employees forced to avoid the office, working from home has become a necessity.

Remote work is filling the gap of office closures necessitated by social distancing. It helps employers retain their workforce and maintain business continuity by adapting to the times, but beyond that, it’s a blessing for employees, many of whom can’t afford to stop working.

However, like any new work environment, working remotely comes with its fair share of challenges. The question remains: how can we manage the change effectively so that businesses everywhere can emerge from this crisis intact and thriving?


Trickle-Down Transition

Working remotely affects everyone, from senior management to entry-level employees, but it’s not something you can do halfway.

Once the decision is made to go remote, stick to it. Implement change at all levels and be consistent with your messaging, especially in terms of the shift in your work’s culture. Remote work isn’t just using your computer at home instead of at the office. It is a fundamental, structural change to the way an organization operates.

Trying to conduct “business as usual” in a completely different forum won’t get you an effective result. Employers need to adapt the usual processes and procedures to facilitate a productive remote working environment.


Going Digital

Adapting your business to a digital medium is crucial to the success of remote work. But that alone isn’t enough. You need to be able to bring your entire team on board. Don’t just assume that everyone knows how to use the digital tools you hand to them; some will grasp new processes easily, while others may need some help.

Coach and collaborate. Use skill-building techniques to ensure that everyone is on the same page because, in the end, their success is your success.


Engaging at All Levels

Everyone will need to work together during this transition. If it doesn’t already exist, work on building a culture of trust. Senior staff should engage with their team and set a good example. Managers must be able to check in and communicate with their team to maintain productivity.

Everyone is doing their best to adjust to these new circumstances, so be patient, flexible, and compassionate. Employees that feel heard and understood will give their best effort, even in this difficult time.


Invest in Your Future Success

Don’t expect the transition to be quick or easy. Such a significant change to your organization’s culture and infrastructure will take time. Treat remote work as a long-term investment. In all likelihood, even after the worst of COVID-19 has passed, remote work will be here to stay.

Ultimately, the tricky transition to remote work is about embracing organizational change from the top down. It isn’t about any one person; it’s about finding solutions that will work for everyone. It’s about maximizing potential and opportunities at a time when innovation is key to survival.