There are several approaches to migrating your activities to a remote environment. While many jobs have to be done on-site and in person, a large percentage can be migrated.
Make this a Strategic Opportunity
Given the unprecedented global impact the Covid-19 novel virus is having on business operations, this could be a unique opportunity to innovate your operation. Furthermore, it could introduce important benefits including employee flexibility, faster and more dynamic results, and ultimately, improve productivity through efficiency and effectiveness if deployed in a strategic and thoughtful way.
1) Have a strategy.
It is easy to go remote. It is another thing to leverage the transition as a competitive advantage.
Your strategy should be simple, but comprehensive.
Set clear expectations for employees. Working remote offers a new flexibility that if not used before, can elicit new behaviors. Partner with your teams to set the rules of engagement on what makes sent for your business. Things to consider include timing and scope of deliverables, communication protocols, digital tools, workflow design and accountability.
Have a clear operating system. Ensure you capture input up, down, and across the organization to make sure you identify and address all relevant activities and how you plan to operationalize the strategy.
Align the strategy to your business and employee needs. If the business need is not overly significant e.g., perhaps a service business with 20-50 employees it may be possible to create a simple remote infrastructure at an extremely low cost. However, as the company size grows, there will be more cost and complexity.
2) Optimize the technology.
This is an environment of digital ubiquity, there are a large number of tools available. Select the right ones for your situation.
For mid-size businesses there are a variety of low cost options that can help you bridge the geographical gaps. Reduce time spent trying to schedule meeting by using scheduling tools such as Doodle to reduce email/phone tag. There are free options that make it easy to coordinate a team's availability. Calendly, Acuity, and ScheduleOnce to allow direct booking on your calendar to avoid schedule conflicts.
Leverage video conferencing technologies like Zoom and Google Hangouts. It is remarkable how effective video conferencing is to bring people together. Similar to in person meetings, you still have the ability to "read the room" on how your attendees are interacting with you and others.
Leverage screen recording tools like Loom and Dubb to rapidly review, comment into video/audio screen recording (like feedback to a cohort on a presentation). Other tools like Camtasia and SnagIt can be helpful as well. Leverage tools like ActivTrak or Screencast-o-Matic to record team member screens for specific tasks, activities. There are low cost options and for teams that have high customer contact (customer service, reservations), you can leverage back end screen recording tools to ensure quality and productivity.
3) Fine tune the execution.
This can be the equivalent of a full blown culture shift. Leverage change management best practices to make the pivot.
Some employees will be less comfortable with some of these changes. However, after a short period of time it will become a normal part of the process. The barrier to employee acceptance can be minimized by including them in the solution development process. Realize though that there will be transition issues just like any other initiative. Be sure to have qualified coaches, leaders to deploy each piece of technology and manage through any "speed bumps" that may come up.
Implement an efficient feedback loop where issues and concerns can be addressed promptly.
Whatever you do - get the low hanging fruit. Staying "connected" is usually the first big challenge. Since there's no more "water cooler" conversations, random office drop-ins, companies can lose continuity. Addressing this issue alone can dramatically soften the impact of a company making a migration into the remote / digital space if they are not familiar. Tools like Zoom, Doodle, and ScheduleOnce will go a long way in driving continuity and is fast and easy to deploy.