Navigating the New Work World: 5 Strategies for Success
As we settle into the reality of a transformed work environment, the phrase “adjusting to the new normal” has become all too familiar. Whether you have returned to the office or are still in quarantine, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently reshaped how we work. It is crucial that we establish a new normal for our work practices, network security, and team productivity in this more dispersed landscape.
For instance, one of our clients recently raised concerns about maintaining HIPAA compliance with their employees working from home. How can they prevent inadvertent data breaches when someone leaves their computer screen exposed or carries away a note with a patient’s name? Here are our recommendations for redefining work parameters to enhance compliance and security in all work situations.
- Prohibit Personal Systems: Allowing employees to use personal systems for work, data storage, and customer interactions poses a significant data breach risk. Personal systems lack the necessary control, making it impossible to perform updates, ensure up-to-date virus protection, or wipe them in case of termination. Provide company-supplied systems that meet minimum security standards. Sending employees home with work equipment, with proper documentation, is a safer approach than allowing unmanaged personal devices.
- Set Clear Expectations: Distinguish between working from home in pajamas on the couch and being productive. If you expect employees to be effective remote workers, establish clear expectations for their work setup and communicate them effectively. For example:
- Determine if they need a private office space or can work in an open environment.
- Clarify whether they can use their cell phones for business calls or require a VoIP/softphone connected to the company network.
- Specify how frequently they should check in during the day.
- Define the response time if immediate contact is not possible.
- Establish whether video attendance is mandatory for meetings or if phone participation is acceptable.
- Outline the secure means of connecting to the company’s information, such as a VPN or firewall access.
- Implement a Signed Employee Agreement: Whether remote work is a temporary situation or a permanent shift, create a clear remote work agreement that encompasses all the expectations mentioned above. If you anticipate employees returning to the office eventually, reiterate the temporary nature of the arrangement or state that it is a trial period. Working from home may initially seem appealing, but its effectiveness varies among individuals. As the employer, you need the flexibility to bring employees back to the office if necessary.
- Maintain Regular Communication: We recommend having at least one video check-in per day and scheduling another form of regular touchpoint (video, phone, email recap) for each employee, whether they are working on-site or remotely. The power of informal conversations throughout the day cannot be underestimated. Find alternative ways to foster engagement and effectiveness in the absence of traditional water cooler discussions.
One effective approach is to start meetings with a “good thing.” Each team member shares a positive personal or professional aspect of their life. This practice sets a positive tone for the meeting and fosters connection among staff members. Embrace lightheartedness by encouraging shenanigans, such as setting up a chat feed for funny memes or allowing video call filters. These measures help to bring levity and foster connections beyond daily tasks.
- Embrace effective administration: Adapting to the new work world requires effective administration. Establish robust policies, communicate standards and expectations clearly, follow up with employees, and partner with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) specializing in secure, remote workspaces. Together, we can navigate this new normal and continue to thrive.
By adopting these strategies, you can successfully adapt to the evolving work landscape and create a solid foundation for the future. While we acknowledge the challenges, we also recognize the opportunity for growth and resilience in this new era of work.