5 Best Practices for Managing Change in a Remote Workforce
Quality management systems need continuous monitoring and improvements to become effective in enhancing product and process quality. Manufacturing companies and medical device companies that need to comply stringently with regulations and standards such as ISO 9001:2015 need to standardize the change management process encompassing planning, monitoring, and evaluation. This helps to minimize risks and increase the efficacy of the QMS.
This standardization is essential due to the complexity of introducing changes to an ongoing process that can cause disruption. It can introduce new risks and will also affect the workflows of different teams based on the nature of the changes. Therefore, the changes introduced must be planned well, and once implemented, monitored and evaluated for impact. In case of any undesired outcomes, the change may need to be reversed or other controls put in place.
The change management process is further complicated in today’s world of globalization where the manufacturing units may be located in remote sites or outsourced to external partners. In a post-pandemic era, a part of your own team may be remote – say a product design and development team. Regulatory teams may be located at the corporate office, away from the manufacturing plant. This can introduce several additional challenges to the change management process.
5 Steps for Effective Change Management
For effective change management, businesses must implement the following key steps:
Step #1 - Preparing the Organization for Change: Preparing the relevant stakeholders for the change is the first step in the successful implementation of change. This includes orienting the teams on the need for change, what it involves, and the problems it can solve. This will help the teams align with the changes with least resistance and friction.
Step #2 - Create a Change Strategy: A clear roadmap for implementing the change and sharing it with the relevant stakeholders is the next step. This will help provide clarity on how each task will be impacted and enable employees to embrace the change. It should delineate the strategic goals, key performance indicators, the stakeholders and the teams involved in the process, the scope of the project, etc. While having a structured approach, it should also be flexible and agile.
Step #3 - Executing the Changes: Implementing the changes as per the plan is essential to achieve the desired outcomes. Providing the employees with the necessary skills to achieve the objectives and celebrating short-term wins will improve participation. This will enable proactive identification and addressing of risks with suitable control measures.
Step #4 - Integrating Changes with the Company’s Culture and Practices: Often, people tend to revert to old habits due to familiarity and comfort. Organizations must ensure that once a change has been implemented, the new approach or method is sustained and integrates the changes within the company’s culture and practices.
Step #5 - Track and Monitor Impact: Has the change made the desired impact and helped achieve the desired results? Are there new challenges due to the change? Are the new skills provided to the teams sufficient to meet the new requirements? Post-change implementation, these and many more such questions must be addressed through constant monitoring and tracking. This will help assess the effectiveness of the change introduced and provide valuable insights that can inform future changes.
Collaboration is at the heart of the change management process. Data-driven decision-making and implementation hold the key to effective change management. Management of Change plays a direct role in enhancing quality performance.
5 Best Practices for Effective Change Management in Remote Workplaces
Given the need for employee involvement and buy-in to ensure the successful implementation of changes, organizations need to implement best practices. The challenge of involving teams becomes more in remote workplaces due to the risk of a feeling of dissociation with the entire process. Therefore, some of the best practices would include:
Best Practice #1 - Effective Communication: The most critical aspect of ensuring effective change management is communication and sharing of information. Employee participation will increase when they feel a sense of ownership towards their responsibilities, which in turn is triggered by clarity in their roles and responsibilities. Change-related information should be shared clearly, periodically, and transparently, assuaging workers’ fears and dispelling rumors, especially as remote workers do not have access to in-person communication.
Best Practice #2 - Improve Onboarding and Training: In distributed workplaces, onboarding and training cannot be a one-time process but must be an ongoing and continuous one. Identifying gaps can be more challenging in remote environments. Therefore, creating cloud-based systems to assess and deliver appropriate courses becomes essential to fill up skill gaps that arise due to the introduction of changes. Short, video-based modules, supplementary modules for honing new skills, and interactive training sessions using video are some of the ways in which workers can be prepared to handle the changes.
Best Practice #3 - Centralized Documentation: Centralized document management facilitates better collaboration between different teams, version control, and access to updated information. This is critical to reduce confusion and improve change implementation with more effective teamwork.
Best Practice #4 - Assign Roles and Define Responsibilities: Remote workers may feel left out and may not pay attention to how the changes will affect their roles and responsibilities. The risk of their sliding back to the old way of doing things is also higher when they are working in isolation. Therefore, role clarity as well as being entrusted with responsibilities will increase their involvement and encourage them to be proactive in managing and sustaining the changes. Creating a change management workflow involving them periodically, reviewing and updating roles and responsibilities will help keep them invested in the changes.
Best Practice #5 - Review and Monitor Change Effectiveness: Once the changes have been implemented, have a tracking system to monitor key performance indicators. Share the findings and review performance to identify gaps, make mid-course corrections where needed, and strengthen practices to ensure the sustenance of the new processes and strategies. Constant training and documentation may be required to ensure the active participation of the remote workers.
A cloud-based Change Management solution such as ComplianceQuest provides visibility and transparency. It helps assign roles and responsibilities, identify gaps and hone skills, as well as document and communicate to improve the effectiveness of change management in remote teams. As it is cloud-based, users can access any information anytime from anywhere, with suitable permissions and authentication.
To know more about how the CQ Change Management Solution can help your remote teams align themselves with the change management and continuous improvement of quality management, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/change-management-software-system/
To know Why You Should Start with Document, Training, and Change Management as the Building Blocks for your QMS, download our whitepaper: https://www.compliancequest.com/whitepaper/building-blocks-of-qms/
Watch our demo video: Change Management: Managing Change Throughout Your Enterprise - https://www.compliancequest.com/demo-video/enterprise-change-management/