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“Work from home” and “remote work” have become buzzwords in the current landscape with the coronavirus pandemic.

Local government teams have been forced to adjust to this new way to work with teams spread out and communication lines connected through video conferencing and phone calls. For some teams, this has been an easier transition than for others.

Since we don’t know exactly how long this new work style will be in place, it’s important to have the tools you need to make working remotely really work across your team, whether for the next month, three months, or beyond.

1. Lead with clear communication

Communication is critical at a time like this, especially when guidelines and priorities are shifting at the drop of a hat. Your team should know that you are prioritizing clear communication and adding tools to achieve that.

Whether you’re investing in a reliable video conferencing system or sending your team regular email updates, you can help them feel supported during this uncertain time. Listening is also an important part of communication, so make sure you’re tuning in to your employees and are fully engaged when interacting with them – especially since you’re not seeing them in person.

2. Look at meeting cadences

Along with the communication piece, you should take a close look at your meeting cadences and adjust for maximum impact. There’s no perfect amount of communication and meetings, so this should be an iterative process guided by feedback from your team.

Here are some ideas:

  • Set up a weekly meeting to check in with your team (if you haven’t already).
  • Check with individual team members to see if they would benefit from weekly 1-on-1s.
  • Every month or so, ask the team how the meeting cadences are being received and adjust accordingly.
  • Add individual recognitions and “shout-outs” into your meetings and other communication to show appreciation.

Meetings aren’t the only place for communication. Make sure you’re looking at other tools and technology you can utilize to better manage your day-day, as well as email and chat channels.

3. Offer residents a place to connect online

Outside of your team, your residents are also dealing with working and operating remotely. And that means you’ve had to be flexible with the services you offer and how you offer them.

Many local governments have been able to pivot some of their permitting, licensing, and inspection processes with online, cloud-based, and mobile tools. The staff for the city of Olympia, Washington, for example, is counting the benefits of using community development software: better data, more flexible operations, and time saved.

“Having the digital environment and having that information all in one accessible place that you can use remotely on mobile devices and in the office is needed,” says Chuck Dower, the city’s business operations specialist. “And now that we’re all in our homes working [due to COVID-19], that digital environment was our goal before, and we’re really seeing the benefits of that now.”

Their online portal for permitting has helped them be more accessible to citizens, and 90-95% of online applicants report being happy with the ease of use with the online portal.

Other local governments are utilizing CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) tools to prioritize essential work and effectively budget within the current environment. A lot of the data/information tracked and stored in these types of solutions can also be used to secure and justify future federal stimulus funding for state and local governments.

These types of tools also open the lines of communication with you and your residents, creating more points of engagement and showing that your staff can adjust to today’s landscape.

Now is the time

Now is a time to explore ways to maximize your efficiency within your team and through the services you offer to your community. Take the time to step back and evaluate how you’re communicating with your team and with citizens to see if you should add to the remote tools your local government utilizes.

Streamlining your processes, communication, and efficiencies may be right at your fingertips – and it may be the key to really making your remote status work better for everyone involved.

Get more tips for efficient operations in this new guide from Dude Solutions: 10 Tips to Manage COVID-19 Today & for the Future.

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