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Strategies for building a remote workforce in the age of coronavirus

Alyssa Place


As coronavirus continues to spread and more extreme safety measures are being encouraged and enforced across the globe, the switch to remote work is on the fast track for many in the workplace. 

Many companies, including Facebook, Amazon and Google have asked their employees to work remotely, cancelled non-essential travel and separated their office populations to mitigate the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has released guidelines for businesses, including encouraging telework to “increase the physical distance among and between employees.” 

But flipping the switch to remote work is not always a simple transition, says Miranda Nicholson, vice president of human resources at Formstack, a data management company. Formstack has had 60% of their workforce working remotely since they were founded in 2006. 

“Just turning a switch to working remotely presents a lot of potential issues for organizations and management that they’ve never had before,” Nicholson says. 

Nicholson shared how employers can establish a plan and communicate effectively with their employees — during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond — as more companies recognize the benefits of remote work. 

As more companies are tasked with going remote during this outbreak, have they done enough to prepare and take the necessary precautions? 

It's a mix of both. I've seen some organizations not put an emphasis on what feels psychologically safe to their employees. So whether or not they're traveling somewhere for business, the choice should be given to the employees as to whether or not they can travel free of repercussion, for example. I think where I'm seeing a little too much precaution is organizations who are effectively moving to 100% remote work without any sort of plan in place. 

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