By: Matt Andersen, CPA, Founder of MD Andersen CPA, PA
When the pandemic began, many businesses had to move their operations partially or fully online to protect their staff and customers. Some companies transitioned smoothly, continuing operations fairly regularly, but some met challenges operating from a fully remote model, struggling with productivity or with the logistics of moving certain critical operations online.
There is no guidebook for this “new normal,” and for most employers, moving to remote work is still a work in progress. Now that some time has passed, it’s time to assess which remote working option may work best for your business and develop or refine your transition plan accordingly.
The Hybrid Remote Work Model
In a hybrid remote work model, you split your employees into groups that work onsite and groups that work remotely. Businesses will vary in the criteria they use to determine who works onsite and offsite, as well as the duration of onsite or offsite work for each group.
No matter how you divide your workforce, you must establish clear work expectations for your remote staff, and clear supervisory expectations for the managers overseeing them. Deliver training and support to help your remote employees transition smoothly out of the office, and develop a safety plan to transition those remaining onsite. Make sure everyone receives cybersecurity training so they are up to date on the latest security threats. To keep your data and other sensitive information secure, provide your offsite workers with secure IT equipment, or methods for employees to secure the personal IT equipment they may be using.
If your business relies on some employees still working onsite, you can divide your employees into groups and alternate having one group work from home for a few days each week, while the other works on-site. You’ll also need to establish clear protocols for each group to hand-off work to the other when they switch work locations, but with open channels of communication and a clearly defined schedule, this hybrid model can work successfully.
If you have work that is location agnostic, you could consider adding remote employees to work alongside your in-person staff. With the right IT protocols and remote server capabilities in place, you can securely transmit information across the country, allowing for a wider potential employee pool for you, and the ability to work from home for your new remote employee. Depending on the time zone from which they work, this can also help extend your business’s hours of operation, making you more available to clients and customers who may have after-hours questions.
The Fully Remote Model
For those considering a fully remote option, clear work expectations are an absolute necessity, but you will also need to be ready to provide further accommodations for employees during the transition. Those new to remote work may struggle with the new environment or require additional equipment to enhance their productivity. Others may find themselves working too much, the boundary between the office and their home now blurred. Working parents may be balancing additional childcare demands. Keep an open mind and work with your staff to identify areas of need.
Don’t forget about company culture! Without a physical office, in-person interactions may be limited, but that is no excuse to let team morale decrease. Hold Zoom Happy Hours, buy the team lunch, find reasonable substitutes to keep your employees engaged, appreciated, and productive.
Finally, you will need to prioritize IT security, and you’ll need to refresh your business continuity plans in case of a blackout, cyberattack, or other disruption of your online operations. Communicate with your IT department to ensure your office technology is up to date, that you have a remote plan in place, and discover some common troubleshooting solutions. Train your staff on cybersecurity attacks and how to spot them.
Remote work is not a one-size-fits-all model. Integrating it into your processes is more about discovering how best to incorporate it – whether it be through a hybrid or fully remote model – and working through any roadblocks from there. Whether your team has gone fully remote during the COVID-19 pandemic or only sections of your team, work from home, let us help you assess the best ways to protect your workforce and customers while maximizing productivity, morale, and revenue. Contact MD Andersen, CPA, PA today to get started.
Matt Andersen, CPA loves analyzing data, people, and businesses. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurial-minded clients achieve their goals, keep more money in their pockets, and live a higher quality of life. In addition to tax and accounting services, Matt provides one-on-one coaching for various topics including lifestyle entrepreneurship, advanced tax planning, and new business creation.