All across the nation, businesses of all sizes are fully engaged with navigating the transition to a pandemic-initiated remote work style.

While life as usual goes on, this sudden dramatic shift in the normal day to day can make it feel like business has ceased. It hasn’t.

The key to moving through this unprecedented turn of events is clarity. Being clear about staff expectations, safety rules and productivity measures is vital to keep important details from being overlooked.

These seven tips support maintaining business as usual under extraordinary circumstances and identifying new lucrative business opportunities yet to emerge from the same

1. Outline the reason(s) for the shift to a remote workforce.

Rather than assuming staff and clients understand the need for the shift to a remote workforce, spell it out.

Explain the decision, citing relevant local and national information and data as it becomes available. Issue updates as they arrive so clients and staff know exactly what they can and can’t expect.

2. Make work day expectations clear and precise.

Virtual communication tools can make managing a remote workforce easier….or harder. The first step here is to verify all staff have secure, reliable internet access and home electronics suitable for a home office setup.

Next, to avoid preventable miscommunication or redundancy, start by sitting down as a team to identify key aspects of the workday that can be conducted virtually.

In particular, establish protocols for each of the following:

– Submitting deliverables.

– How and when to use different virtual tools (Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc).

– Scheduling and conducting meetings.

– Securely sharing and storing sensitive data.

3. Institute time reporting (if this is not already mandatory).

In the legal profession in particular, time is money…literally. Knowing how staff is spending each work hour is vital for billing and profitability more than ever.

This holds true for both billable and non-billable staff.

For shared tasks, it may be more productive and straightforward to split these up between essential staff, assigning one person as “point” person for each task to ensure it gets done on time and in full.

Monitor time reporting and billables closely to ensure nothing falls through the cracks as staff adjusts their normal productivity routines to accommodate working remotely.

4. Be vigilant about cyber-security threats.

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of these difficult times and creating security risks for firms both large and small.

From phishing to malware, hackers are active now more than ever.

Start with a thorough risk management assessment. Consider making a move to a more secure private network. A VPN (virtual private network) that lets you set and monitor employee access and unauthorized activity may be a good choice.

Ensure email and project management software settings are adjusted as needed for remote login.

5. Keep connected with clients virtually.

Clients with active or pending cases are likely to be especially anxious at this unexpected delay. Don’t make clients reach out – be proactive about keeping in touch.

Keep each client informed about what can and can’t be done under a shelter in place order. Anticipate client questions and provide answers before they are requested.

Building this kind of goodwill now can generate unexpected returns when things return to normal.

6. Move to contact-less payment options.

Minimizing contact is of the utmost importance during this pandemic. But don’t let social distancing stand in the way of payment processing.

Now is the time to institute contact-less payment options and fully support clients to transition to using these methods. For clients who may have less comfort with digital and virtual tools, make IT staff available for personalized guidance as they get set up.

7. Identify new emerging opportunities for streamlining operations and generating revenue.

An economic downturn in one industry doesn’t have to translate to an economic downturn for all industries.

By taking time to streamline current business operations, it is possible to emerge from this unique time fully optimized as a workforce and ready to generate some serious revenue.

Creative, entrepreneurial mindsets in all staff should be encouraged – any and all ideas for new business opportunities should be encouraged, recognized and rewarded.

Whether it is an idea for trimming overhead by adapting virtual tools for permanent use or identifying and cultivating new clients affected by current conditions, sometimes a fresh perspective is all it takes to open up a whole new revenue stream for the firm as a whole.