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Coronavirus: Advice for home-working for SMEs and their staff

Posted onPosted on 24th Mar

THE rapid onset of the coronavirus globally has meant that many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are opting to work from home for the very first time.

Without the necessary support and guidance, this could be business critical for many. Steve Walker, chief executive of Improve, an online learning platform for SMEs, shares his six top tips for working remotely.

Steve said: “There is little guidance out there for SMEs which need to mobilise quickly to maintain their operations and keep employees engaged. SMEs are entering an unprecedented period where remote working is necessary given the current government regulations around social distancing and is essential in order to preserve service levels and retain customers.

“The following tips form part of an SME survival toolkit for remote working and further useful hints and tips. It also helps to set out how we can deal with the challenges and opportunities that this enforced period of remote working could bring to SMEs that might be new to it.

1. Develop an online learning focus
If your workforce is now working remotely, having a simple online learning platform that all employees can access ensures that the time can be used wisely to update and ensure that all staff complete vital compliance and policy training.

It is also a great opportunity to create your own training resources around best practice for your business and push these to people to learn via a learning platform. This could be in the form of documents, videos – self-made, or found on the internet – or testing of knowledge.

Embracing learning technology to develop your managers is a great way to cost effectively enhance the skills of these key people and keep them engaged.

2. Enhance your coaching and connectivity
This is an ideal opportunity for SMEs to embrace technology and enhance connectivity with colleagues. Using online tools, like video conferencing app Zoom, is a great way to stay connected and ensure people feel engaged with the business and less isolated.

These tools are relatively inexpensive and can be used via any device, so staff can have video calling and accessible training through a learning platform.

3. Ensure remote workers feel supported
It’s been said that “anxiety moves faster than a virus.” So, it’s important to remember that businesses have a huge role to play in keeping their workforces positive and informed.

Now is an important time to review how you communicate and which technology you use. Business owners and senior management need to make sure they strike an important tone of support and opportunity. Some businesses are going out of their way to focus on their employees’ wellbeing by providing online training and resources to show care and support.

4. Extend perks to the home
Make the transition from in-office to home as seamless as possible by extending the same in-office benefits for newly remote employees.

A simple, non-expensive perk could be to allow all people at least 30/60 minutes per day for training, updating their knowledge around their core job role. Other businesses are looking to go that next stage further by expensing one meal a day and providing vital equipment for their remote workspace.

5. Use it as an opportunity to think differently
Many businesses are embracing this period of uncertainty and ‘forced’ remote working as an opportunity to stress test their businesses and challenge the current way they work and manage their people.

Times are changing, the millennial workforce entering SME businesses in large volumes want flexibility in working hours, ‘on-demand’ learning and training at their fingertips more than ever before, which is why now is a great time to assess how you will work in the future.

6. Encourage your team to share top training tips – and tips for home working
Use tools like Slack and Trello to help your team keep in touch with one another. Host daily meetings every morning using Zoom – and ask everyone in the team to come up with top tips for the new way of working.

This could include elements they have learned from their training they have done at home, or perhaps some fun recommendations for their teammates. It’s not just a time for pulling together, but a time for sharing best practice, and preparing for the time when business is back on track.

For more information on Improve visit