In these uncertain times, CUES and credit unions have a new thing in common. We have more staff members working more hours remotely than ever before.
CUES has a long history of offering flexible work options. Our first remote worker—back in the 1990s—telecommuted a few days a week so she could care for her mother, who was terminally ill. Our second telecommuted full time from another state—and continues to do so to this day.
After these early experiments, we saw how great telecommuting was for talent retention, productivity and, yes, for business continuity (back then, we were thinking “snowstorm”). As a result, CUES made arrangements so all employees could work from home when needed—and many have done so one day a week for a long time.
However, like you, we’ve never before supported the level of telework now required by COVID-19. We are drawing on our long experience as we help our entire team work full-time from home. I want to share some of our best tips and strategies with you here.
- Help employees acquire the office tools they need. This could include a laptop with a webcam, a printer, a voice over IP phone, a cell phone and a scanner. Consider the needs of each person and position.
- Work hard to keep interpersonal connections. A telework challenge many employees experience is feeling disconnected from the team. Our full-time telecommuters have found their weekly meetings with their supervisors to be an important point of connection. Something CUES is adding right now is drop-in videoconferences at which team members who crave “water cooler” time with their peers can get it.
- Leverage technology. Voice connections are helpful, but actually seeing a colleague can be terrifically soothing to someone feeling alone. Tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Meet, Apple’s FaceTime and GoToMeeting can all be used to connect via both voice and video. Another useful tool is instant messaging. Using it, a staffer who’s serving a member, for example, can quickly ask a question of a colleague or supervisor.
- Help staff learn to work remotely. Have people in your organization who have done it before share their experiences. Encourage your new teleworkers to read articles or to take a course about how to excel in their new work situation.
- Set visible work goals. Whether an employee works in an office or from home, those who have clear objectives and deadlines are typically more productive.
Leaders, keep in mind that this is an investment in building a new capability for individual employees, for teams and for your organization. It will take some time for staff new to telecommuting to hit their stride. But it will be a key tool to serving your members during this pandemic—and in the future.
If you have questions about telecommuting that go beyond what I’ve been able to cover here, please reach out. As always, CUES is here to help you both learn and lead.