The COVID-19 crisis is requiring most businesses to work remotely online, and nonprofit organizations are no different.
According to Forbes, among nonprofit organizations, 69 percent said they are considering adapting their company to remote work even after the pandemic passes.
Even if your nonprofit doesn’t have any remote employees on staff, it is likely that in the future it will employ some who will work remotely on a regular or a temporary period. As the pandemic continues, non-profits will need to determine the best methods for changing to remote work. That change may be jarring and complicated, but it’s certainly not impossible. There are ways to make the transition smoother for everyone.
Adapting to the new normal
Some nonprofit organizations will find the move to remote interaction easier than others. Most national nonprofits consist of a workforce located across the U.S.; for smaller organizations, this may be an opportunity to try that model as well. Some staff members may need to work from outside the organization’s home city during the pandemic.
Understanding how to negotiate time zones is critical to making communication flow, as is making sure the remote technology is operational. Once organizations settle into a rhythm, it could provide a teaching moment for how to operate once the crisis is lessened.
Working in the Cloud
Technology such as project management software (Wrike, Trello, Asana) as well as telecommunication tools (Zoom, Go To Meeting) to support employees who are now telecommuting may force the organization to deal with the upfront cost, but the long-term value is essential. Employees should have an approximation of the same tools and access that they had onsite.
It’s a good idea to let your employees work in the cloud with documentation tools such as Google Docs and Google Sheets, which help keep all the information your team needs in one place, easy for everyone to access. Even if you’re not onsite together, you can still work on the same documents with GSuite.
Keep in mind your nonprofit workers are still going to want to be communicative with each other, so you will want to invest in collaboration software. Depending on your company’s size and the number of new telecommuters, communication hub Slack costs are significantly discounted for nonprofits.
There will also need to be investments made to ensure your nonprofit’s data security is not breached.
In the long run, once new home offices are set up and the technology piece is handled, the effect of the added expenses should dwindle gradually, and your nonprofit’s gains should reach equilibrium once again.
One challenge that will come from transitioning your nonprofit to remote work is the loss of the workplace community that comes organically from working side by side in an office space.
For nonprofit organizations, employees are probably more dedicated to causes and working toward world betterment than the bottom line. They may also value in-person exchanges more, so take appropriate steps to keep them satisfied.
Keeping in touch through collaboration tools, and adding channels to your collaboration software for non-work-related social interaction, should help restore needed social interaction.
Depending on how close together geographically your nonprofit employees are located to one another, you may be able to host in-person networking events or holiday parties to make your workers feel engaged with each other. Keep COVID-19 in mind when planning such events, and make sure everyone wears masks.
Investing to ensure your workers have access to video conferencing to let them see and hear each other during meetings will help keep employees connected as well.
Transitioning to remote work from a typical office setting will require a sea change for many companies.
It will take time and adjustment. Check in with your team often to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Once things have settled, you may find your nonprofit workers are happier and more productive working from home, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
About the Author: Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.