Working Remotely

COVID 19 has taken many of us by surprise in the way that it impacts our businesses and our work.

With quarantines, social distancing, and the closure of many public spaces, we need to prepare our companies and staff to work remotely if needed. This isn’t possible for all aspects of our daily businesses but much of what we do can be done remotely with helpful processes and systems in place.

Below are some questions and answers that can be used to prepare.

1. Define what people will be doing remotely

We like to use a ‘What, Why, When, Who, Where’ process for identifying and delegating tasks. An ‘Action Log’ template is available to support this exercise.

A) Consider what tasks need to be completed
First identify what tasks need to be done and outline them. Including a title and a separate line for description can make it easy to go through lists that can get long. Next, consider how critical the task is. Is it critical to the success of Customers, Employees, and the Business? If it isn’t critical and the company is in crisis, it takes a back seat until critical tasks are done

B) Why is this task important?
Provide clarity on what ‘done’ looks like for each task in the description; What is the goal or outcome of the task, why are they doing it to begin with? If something similar has been done before, can you share the template/example? If you have a procedure or process, link it directly to the task to help them make efficient progress.

C) When will this task be completed?
How often must it be done and how much effort does it take? If you have a rough estimate, this helps us see if we’ve put too much on someone’s plate

D) Where will the task be completed?
Share the tasks with the team in a space that is visible to everyone.

These are the tools we use:

  • Celoxis: to track overarching project assignments
  • Monday: to track tasks
  • SharePoint: to store all documents including those in progress

E) Who is accountable to completing this task?
There are a few considerations here:

  • What skill is required to perform this task effectively? If someone is overqualified, save them for more complex tasks. If someone is under-qualified, ensure they have the support needed to be successful, or assign it elsewhere
  • Who is accountable? Only one person can be accountable and they are the person who must ensure someone gets it done, on time, and correctly
  • Who is responsible? Who will actually complete the task (This can be the accountable person)
  • Who must be consulted? Who must provide advice and input to the task
  • Who must be informed? Who needs to be able to see the status of that activity and be told the outcome

2. Give them the tools

Identify the tools needed for each task to be completed remotely.

Tools to consider:

  • Laptops, power cords
  • Secure remote access portals such as VPN (that have been tested remotely and confirmed to work)
  • Systems that are cloud or web based including:
    • Document storage solutions (Where should everyone upload their work as they’re working)
  • Task management solutions/spreadsheets
    • Where should everyone look to see what needs to get done and what they’re assigned to (without always asking)
  • Communication tools
    • Voice and video conference platforms
    • Direct messaging platforms

3. Keep people connected

It’s important to define how and when communication will happen amongst the team as working remotely can make it challenging for managers to have a pulse on staff progress and can make it challenging for staff to access help when they’re stuck on a task or feeling isolated

Ensure staff know who to go to for support, how to reach them, and when the team will gather digitally to check in. Set these times ahead in a calendar and identity who the accountable person for each task is so that staff can go to that one person for support on that task.

Additionally organization charts that identity point people for support helps staff know who they turn to. This would typically be their manager.

We recommend these tools:

  • Teams: Office 365 comes with Teams and allows for one-on-one messaging, group messaging, group conference calls, and document sharing
  • UberConference: a web-based conference tool that allows team video chats and Customer conference calls

4. Get creative

Our businesses are disrupted and we can’t do all the same tasks the same way. Some tasks we may not be able to do at all, particularly customer facing tasks. However, this offers a unique opportunity for us to make creative use of our employees and our capacity.

Think of all the things we always wish we had time for but the day to day operations always consume us. We may have time now! Below are a few of the top items on our list:

  • Design the strategy and break down the steps that will lead us there
  • Create templates that can make us more efficient for repetitive tasks
  • Update the company website
  • Research training and education grants to further our staff


A company that is still providing value and moving forward despite disruption.