COVID-19 has kickstarted a remote working revolution that’s forced many businesses to rethink every part of their operations.
Although many countries are starting to roll out their vaccine programs, there’s evidence to suggest that remote working is here to stay. Many businesses are already planning to give staff the option to work remotely, post-pandemic.
There are many benefits to working remotely, including improved employee satisfaction, higher job retention rates, and lower operational costs. However, remote working also poses some challenges, particularly when it comes to change management.
At a time when many businesses are looking to implement change, remote working is making change management more difficult than ever before.
In this article, we’ll share a detailed, step-by-step change management roadmap that you can perform remotely. By following these steps, you can drive meaningful, long-term change amongst your remote workforce – at a time when it’s vital that your business adapts, in order to survive.
Phase 1: Consider the impact
Before you enter the planning phase of change management, it’s important to consider the impact the change will have on your team. In particular, it’s vital your remote workforce has access to the equipment and software required to implement the planned change. You also need to ensure they have everything they need, in order to remain safe and productive in their working-from-home environment, after implementing the change.
As part of the change management process, your employees may need to request new equipment. In this scenario, you can use a tool such as Power Automate to build an automated request and procurement platform. This can remove a significant amount of pressure from your HR and financial departments. It can also encourage your remote workers to reach out, and request any equipment they may be missing.
You should also ensure your remote workforce has access to all the software and digital tools they need to implement the change. Here, we always recommend using a cloud-based platform, such as Microsoft 365. By opting for modern cloud technologies, your employees will have access to the exact same tools and data, regardless of their geographical location. This can remove much of the complexity associated with driving change management remotely.
These are the major factors that can impact your remote change management. However, change management is notoriously complex, and there are many factors that are difficult to quantify.
In particular, it can be difficult to predict the people aspect of change management. There’s a chance that some team members may be highly resistant to change. Friction between departments can also completely derail your change management initiatives.
These issues can affect any change management project. However, they can be particularly difficult to manage when you’re trying to implement change remotely.
To give your project the best possible chance of success, you should strive to identify these personal, miscellaneous issues early in the process. Here, it may help to ask employees for their input. You can use a tool such as Microsoft Forms to ask your employees the tough questions. This can help you predict the impact the proposed change will have on the individuals within your organization.
By understanding the people side of change, you’ll be in a strong position to identify any potential roadblocks. You can then start planning mitigation strategies to minimize, or possibly even completely avoid these roadblocks.
Phase 2: Build your execution roadmap
This is where you’ll define your execution roadmap. This phase involves identifying your business outcomes, and your requirements. You’ll then create a strategy for driving your remote workforce towards your desired business outcomes.
During the roadmap phase, it’s a good idea to conduct regular meetings with key stakeholders and change agents. This is where a robust, reliable digital communication platform is essential. A tool such as Microsoft Teams can help you communicate with everyone involved in the change management process, regardless of whether they’re working in the office, or from home.
If you opt for Microsoft Teams, you’ll have the option to record all your meetings. Change management can be a complex process, and potentially involves a team of stakeholders. By recording all your meetings, you can help minimize misunderstandings and confusions that can occur over time.
To enable the screen recording feature:
● Log into the Microsoft Teams admin center.
● Navigate to “Meetings > Meeting policies > Add.”
● Give your policy a name and a description.
● Find the “Allow cloud recording” slider, and push it into the “On” position. ● Save your changes.
You can now record your Microsoft Teams meeting, by clicking the three-dotted “More actions” icon and then selecting “Start recording.”
Once you’ve finished, end the meeting as normal. Your recording will be automatically processed and uploaded to your Microsoft Stream account. You can now review this recording at any time, or even share it amongst your wider workforce.
Phase 3: Document the change
Here, you’ll take all the information and input from the previous phases, and create your change management roadmap. After building your roadmap, it’s important to ensure your staff have all the information they need, in order to follow that roadmap.
When you’re driving change amongst a remote workforce, it often helps to create self-help resources that employees can access online. This might involve documentation, video tutorials, FAQs, wikis, or knowledge bases.
If you’re using Microsoft 365, you can upload and host any file via Microsoft Teams. Your staff can then access these resources directly from their Teams dashboard. This approach is particularly useful if different departments or groups require access to different information. By creating unique self-help resources for each team, you can ensure your staff have access to all the information they need, without overwhelming or confusing them with irrelevant information.
To share any file, simply choose your channel and then select Microsoft Teams’ “File” tab. You can then drag and drop this file into Teams. This file is now accessible to all channel members.
Alternatively, you can create a wiki for each channel. Whenever you create a channel, Teams generates a wiki automatically, so you already have the foundations for creating a comprehensive change management wiki.
To turn this blank slate into valuable change management documentation, select the channel in question and then click the “Wiki” tab. You can now add a headline, and start writing your first wiki page.
Alternatively, you can create a new wiki by clicking the “+” tab, followed by “Wiki.”
Microsoft Teams will generate your wiki’s first page automatically. You can add more pages by clicking the little lined icon and then selecting “New Page.”
Your change management initiative may be deadline-based. For example, your roadmap may involve deliverables or goals that you want to achieve by a specific date.
To ensure everyone is working to the same schedule, you may want to enter all this information into a cloud-based tool, such as Microsoft Planner. Your workforce can now follow along with your schedule, regardless of geographical location.
Phase 4: Implement your roadmap
This is where you’ll execute your change management plan. During this phase, employees should refer to your change management documentation for the information they need, in order to implement long-term change.
However, even with all the documentation you created in the previous step, your employees may still have the occasional question, or encounter issues along the way.
Once again, a digital communication tool such as Microsoft Teams is essential. Your remote employees can use Teams to connect with their manager, team leader, or any other key stakeholders who can provide the assistance they need.
To encourage your employees to reach out, it may help to create a designated point of contact for anyone who’s struggling to implement the change.
During this phase, it’s also important to keep in close contact with supervisors, managers, team leaders, and any other key stakeholders. These people are at the frontlines, which means
they’re in a strong position to gauge how well the change is progressing, and identify any issues that need to be resolved.
It’s a good idea to schedule regular Teams meetings with these key stakeholders. You should also encourage key stakeholders to relay any questions or requests for assistance that they receive. If you notice a pattern, this suggests that something’s missing from your change management documentation. By updating your documentation with the missing information, you can ensure that your staff don’t keep encountering the exact same problem.
Stage 5: Keep your employees involved in the change
Just because you’ve made a change, doesn’t mean your employees won’t be tempted to slip back into old habits.
To maximize your chances of long-term success, it’s important to keep in contact with key stakeholders, even after you’ve implemented your change initiative. These stakeholders can share feedback and raise any concerns in the weeks, or even months following the change.
It’s also a good idea to regularly request feedback from your staff. This can help you monitor how well the change has been received, and identify any issue that may unfold slowly, over the long term.
Even the simple act of asking employees for their feedback, can set your change management initiative up for long-term success. Change can be hard to maintain. However, by making your staff active participants you can encourage them to uphold these changes over the following months, and even years.
You can request employee thoughts and feedback using a tool such as Microsoft Forms. For example, you might use this tool to create an employee questionnaire, and then either publish this questionnaire to your employee portal, or distribute it via email.