We’ve all had to make the change to remote operations and digital service delivery at very short notice. Now that we’ve made this transition, how can we continue to learn and optimise our digital operations?
So you have transitioned your charity staff to remote working from home, and you have the day-to-day operation of your charity running satisfactorily during the Coronavirus lockdown. You may well have achieved all this in a matter of weeks.
So far so good, then, but how can you do things better? The move to remote working was probably a rushed one, but now that things are up and running how can you optimise the operations and efficiency of your charity given the constraints of the "new normal?"
You can’t expect your staff to work from home productively if they don’t have the means to do so. For that reason, many organisations that have made a switch to home working provide their remote staff with specific items of equipment they need, or allow them to buy them for themselves online.
Commonly purchased items include:
Larger computer screen: The Wall Street Journal reported on a study which found that people using a 24-inch screen completed tasks 52% faster than people who used an 18-inch monitor. That means remote staff working on laptops could get a major productivity boost from a larger screen.
Office chair: Staff who are new to remote working may set up office at the kitchen table, or on a sofa in the living room. While this may be practical for a few hours, staff who are expected to work behind a computer screen for eight hours per day for an extended period need an ergonomic chair if they are to avoid long term injuries to their back and other parts of the body.
Better networking equipment: working with a slow internet connection is frustrating, wastes time, and hinders service delivery. Remote workers may benefit from a mesh networking system to improve Wi-Fi speeds in their home work location or an upgrade from standard broadband to a fibre broadband service.
Just because staff are working from home it doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t need to ensure that they receive regular training. That’s because training can:
One of the best ways digital leadership can manage and deliver training to remote staff is to use a learning management system (LMS). Learning management systems are delivered as products and services: cloud-based services such as Skillcast and Talent LMS, and products such as iSpring and Moodle which are installed and run in-house.
As a charity leader you may find that with a remote workforce it harder to keep track of who is working on what, and how long each staff member is devoting to different activities such as those relating directly to service delivery and ones relating to administration supporting service delivery.
Some staff working from home will need to access digital documents and spreadsheets to deliver products and services, and in normal circumstances these would probably be stored and backed up automatically at your charity’s offices.
While working from home then these files should ideally be stored in the cloud where they are easily accessible to all your staff and backed up automatically – Microsoft’s Office 365 makes this easy. But in some circumstances staff working from home may have to store their work on their own computers. That means that if their computer hard drive fails then this work could be lost.
If you find that a significant proportion of your staff are happy to continue working remotely, and you find that your charity can continue to function well in terms of operations and efficiency, then it may be sensible to continue this type of setup in the longer term, well after any Coronavirus-related lockdowns are relaxed.
This provides a significant opportunity for rent-related cost savings by rationalising your office space and subletting part of it, giving up one or more floors, or even moving to smaller premises.