Using Process Documentation to Work Remotely

A lot has happened in the approximately 19 months since the pandemic officially began. One of the biggest changes is a workforce that has moved largely to remote work to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. While this was initially a shock, we have adapted, and most companies have been able to make the best out of an unprecedented situation.

Now that we’ve settled into a new normal, not all companies have returned to in-office work. For some, the results they saw when their employees worked from home warranted a more permanent transition. After all, working remotely has its benefits. For example, a study by Findstack found that employees save $7,000 per year, and employers are making $2,000 more in annual profit per remote worker. However, establishing a remote work environment that serves you, and not the other way around, takes some effort. One way to make that transition easier is by documenting your in-office processes. This will give you a foundation for the current system and allow you to shift to a virtual system.

Take the interview and onboarding process, for example. A typical in-office format might include having to schedule interviews, waiting for the applicant or new hire to show up, and physically walking them through the aspects of their job. If you document all of those steps as you’re moving to remote work, you’ll have a template to play with. Working remotely means there won’t be any geographical limitations aside from time zone differences. You can use Zoom to conduct interviews with the same questions and without having to wait for the applicant to show up in person. Once you’ve chosen the right person for the job, an online onboarding process will streamline their transition while conserving your time and theirs.

If this new hire starts working on tasks that weren’t explicitly stated in the job description, take a moment to determine if those tasks are within reason for that employee to do. If so, have them record what they do, so it can be developed into a documented process. This will better prepare future employees who come into the role.

Remote work requires clear channels of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Messaging apps like Slack, Teams, and Discord are great for minor updates like website links, videos, or team reminders, just to name a few. Your employees also won’t be mad about receiving fewer emails if it can be helped. You just have to sort out what can/should be sent in a longer email versus a quick message.

Now stop and take a moment to look at your desk. What do you need to effectively do your job? Maybe it’s two computer monitors, a laptop, a second phone, and a standing desk. Do your employees already have those items to successfully work remotely? If not, how will they be provided? Document the tools that will maximize working from home, so you can be prepared to support your employees. Then make sure to create an equipment check-out process so you can track who is in charge of which devices.

All of the aforementioned strategies primarily apply to full remote work. If you’re interested in pursuing a hybrid model with a mix of in-person and remote work, you can still use these tips. However, since we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, you should update your COVID-19 policies and procedures. For your employees who come into the office, they should know what to do if they contract the virus or are exposed to it. They should also be aware of if and/or how masks, social distancing, and vaccination requirements will be implemented. The clearer the guidelines, the safer you and your employees will be.

These are just a few ways working remotely can be made smoother for you and your company. There will be some obstacles and bumps in the road. As long as you document your processes, you’ll have the blueprints to help your employees and your company grow.

Notes:

  1. “5 Ways Newly Remote Teams Will Have to Adapt to Stay Successful in 2022,” Built In, October 25, 2021, https://builtin.com/remote-work/5-ways-remote-teams-must-adapt.
  1. “Remote Work: Creating A Documentation-First Culture,” Forbes, June 23, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2021/06/23/remote-work-creating-a-documentation-first-culture/?sh=6bbf0a5d5859.
  1. “How Documentation Can Facilitate Remote Work Models,” Essential Data Corporation, https://www.essentialdata.com/blog/how-documentation-can-facilitate-remote-work-models/.

“The Ultimate List of Remote Work Statistics for 2021,” findstack, October 27, 2021, https://findstack.com/remote-work-statistics/