Health. Safety. Social Distancing. It’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind with the current environment and ever-changing news of the Coronavirus. Of course, as a business, we want to continue the same uninterrupted service we’ve always provided our clients. But at what cost? At McSteen we’ve prided ourselves on service for 50 years, but we’ve also prided ourselves on putting the well-being of our employees first. We’ve always felt those two things paired very nicely; prioritize your people, and they, in turn, will prioritize your clients.
This is the first time in our history that we’ve experienced something that had the potential to completely polarize our two top priorities, our clients and our employees. With heightened restrictions coming from our State officials this past weekend, we had a choice: continue “business as usual” or get creative. We’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, so we chose the latter.
Our team consists of nearly 60 survey professionals located around the state of Ohio. About one-third of those employees already live and work remotely. That left us with approximately 40 employees who are in the office daily. How could we continue to operate at full capacity but also keep our team, the backbone of our company, healthy and safe? We took quick action and decided that without exception, we would move to a 100% remote work environment. Sounds easy enough, right? For those reading this that are in the same boat, you’re probably aware just how “not easy” this really is.
So exactly how did we do this over the course of 2 days? The truth is, much of this has been in the works and being prepared over the past 6 months, just in case we hit the worst “what if” scenario. The advanced preparation helped tremendously but has since been kicked into overdrive the last few days to finalize our strategy and provide for a seamless transition.
The below is an outline of the key factors to making our remote work solution a success.
Updated Communication Platforms
When working remotely, it is of the utmost importance that the communication lines are stronger than ever. Of course, there are email and phones, but we’ve also implemented Google Hangouts and Google Meet as quick ways to get in touch and share information. Having a chat app that allows the team to connect is key to a successful remote work environment.
We have been working since the beginning of this year to transition our document storage to Google’s platform. Google provides not only one of the most secure platforms for data storage but also allows employees to access relevant information anytime, from anywhere, so long as they have been granted the appropriate permissions by the company administrator.
Reconfigure Computers with VPN and Antivirus
Another major factor that allowed us to mobilize so quickly was moving our computers, both desktops and laptops, to include a VPN option as well as a cloud-based antivirus. At McSteen, we’ve chosen Webroot for our antivirus solution. Any antivirus is important to the safety of your workplace hardware and data, but using a cloud-based antivirus allows us to manage all McSteen computers remotely, taking the necessary action without needing to be in front of each screen to make changes.
Google Voice Phone Transfer
Another obstacle to a remote work solution is fielding client phone calls. Working with our phone provider, we’ve moved calls to be transferred to a Google Voice number which is then forwarded to our customer service team’s personal phones. The Google Voice number allows us to manage the corporate voicemail remotely, as well as set business hours for the phone to ring and also sends recorded voicemail to our group McSteen email inbox. All of which allows us to return calls to clients faster and more efficiently.
Above all: Trust
The biggest factor for mobilizing our team is trust in our people. All the tech advances available can’t function without trust in the team to take responsible action.
Continuing to move toward remote work capabilities takes dedication to a long-term plan. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does prepare your team in the event that the worst-case scenario happens. It doesn’t happen often, but if today’s pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it can happen anytime, without warning. Take steps now to ensure your team is ready. And if you have questions, we’re here to help.
Molly Woeste, CPA
Principal | Vice President
McSteen Land Surveyors