Businesses in Asia have been operating remotely for a while now. Source: Shutterstock

Three tips from Asian businesses on making remote working ‘work’

Businesses in Asian countries felt the most immediate blow following the COVID-19 pandemic due to their proximity to China.

With almost three months’ worth of lessons learned, and ahead of several others in terms of impact experience, Asian businesses are likely better equipped to survive with more resilience and knowledge on what to do.

Several weeks ago, businesses all across the region locked their offices and began the process of onboarding their staff from home, and have been adapting to the work-from-home culture since.

Of course this does not mean that these organizations are immune to the impact of the virus, but during these turbulent times, it’s critical that businesses from other regions learn from one another in order to weather the virus impact effectively.

Gartner’s Distinguished Vice President Brian Kropp said, “It’s important that organizations in other parts of the world look to their peers in Asia.

“While companies in Asia have not yet come out on the other side of this COVID-19 crisis, they’re further along than many in newly affected regions and have valuable insights to share.”

Identifying the pain point of remote working

True enough, businesses in Asia understand that the sudden shift to a remote working environment can strain and pressure their operations, no matter how mature their organizations are. One of the biggest challenges is choosing the best workforce management system to implement.

Employee policies and remote working modules have to be drafted out immediately with the interests of the company and their workforce in mind – but many organizations have managed to pull it off despite the severity of the situation.

A recent poll by Gartner revealed that optimizing technological solutions has been critical in orchestrating a successful remote working environment during this time – especially when it comes to cost management.

About 70 percent of organizations told Gartner that they now expect to enhance their use of technology to help them better manage the costs. Another key strategy seems to be putting hiring on pause. At least for the moment.

Meanwhile, downsizing or furloughing is simply not a favored practice though a minority of businesses have opted to take this route.

Nevertheless, with over 88 percent of 805 participating organizations operating remotely, here are some practices that other businesses can adopt from their Asian counterparts.

# 1 | Empower the workforce with data

It’s important to contextualize the pandemic for the business organization. Employees need to understand how their company is being impacted and why striving for the continuity of business is key.

When it comes to the development of the virus, use trusted credible resources to keep the workforce up-to-date.

Pull up data generated by the business over the last couple of weeks and host discussions about how customers can be retained or sales boosted. Empowering the workforce with the right information and statistics can uplift working dynamics, even from home.

# 2 | Ingrain confidence, build resilience and provide direction

Leadership is key when a crisis hits. When onboarding employees from home, front-line managers need to make sure that they are reliable, available and clear. Communication is key here. Staying connected with teams through teleconferencing wares is something to be considered.

Employees need to be well-informed at all times regarding new operation policies, health coverage that applies if one is affected by the pandemic, and the channels that are available if they need any help.

From the poll, it was also revealed that 56 percent of organizations have communicated relevant action plans to employees if the crisis intensifies.

# 3 | Prioritize virtual peer-to-peer check-ins

Working remotely can be daunting where physical socialization is limited or altogether banned. For some, being cooped up at home doing work with little to no human interaction can take a toll on one’s well-being. In such cases, employees need to encourage virtual catch-ups and check-ins between employees.

Using communication technologies, provide a space that is safe for employees to share experiences, worries, and concerns with one another. Forty percent of businesses have made this a common practice by setting up virtual check-ins between employees and line managers.

Another 32 percent have invested in new tools and platforms for virtual meetings. Remaining intact with one another is key in ensuring your workforce stays solid as a unit.

One thing for sure, as more businesses in other regions ease into working environments, it’s good to know where others faced trouble and prepare the operation to mitigate those issues in advance.

Bottom line is, it’s not a competition to see which region weathered the impact the best, it’s about how can businesses around the world can collectively pick themselves up and continue to operate with resiliency in mind.