A whopping 97.6% of today’s employees want to work remotely, at least some days of the week for the rest of their careers. Your company has to meet these demands, otherwise, 45% of your employees will move on.
Grace Lordan — associate professor at the London School of Economics — opines that workers who care about flexible or hybrid working will job-hop until they find a business that offers that. To retain your top talent and also woo others, you’ve to offer remote work.
However, dipping your toes into remote work, and putting in place measures to ensure it works isn’t a cinch. You have to hire a remote team, create a policy to support remote work, and find the best tool to support the model. This guide will give you five actionable tips to help you prepare for remote work.
Implementing remote work without clear policies is like a rally team starting a race without pacenotes. Regardless of how qualified the driver and co-driver are, the team is bound to take a catastrophic turn in the race.
A remote work policy is a rulebook that defines how a flexible work schedule works. It outlines who can work remotely, expectations for availability, best practices to follow, and the legal rights of both the employer and remote worker. Other things to include in a remote work policy include:
If you’re looking for inspiration, GitLab, one of the leading remote-first companies, makes its remote policy public. You can borrow a page from their rule book but remember: the remote policy isn’t something you’ll get right overnight. It takes a series of tweaks, driven by your own experience, to arrive at a policy that works for your company.
Pacenotes don’t win rally races. Rather, it’s the camaraderie between the driver and co-driver to interpret these notes that spurs them to championship wins. Similarly, your remote work policy isn’t the be-all and end-all of success.
You have to build a culture of mutual trust and respect around the remote work policy to keep your company striding forward. Create a workspace where remote employees feel bonded by similar interests, priorities, and attitudes, no matter their location and time zones.
Your employees may not often see each other, but if the unconditional feeling of connection and sense of belonging permeates the entire organization, success will be certain. Moreover, give them room to use their creative abilities and make mistakes in pursuit of innovative ideas. Doing so will spur the team to achieve better productivity.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to build the remote work culture from scratch. If you’re transitioning from office-based work, you can start with the traditional work culture. Just make sure to expunge elements of the culture tied to the physical space.
If the driver and co-driver don’t communicate, chances are good that the rally team will not win. The same can be said about remote working: without communication, the team won’t achieve its goals.
As Matt Redler — CEO of PantherHR — posits “remote work fails without communication and proper collaboration.” Remember: remote work removes the in-person element your team had in an office-based setting. Employees can’t drop by a colleague to seek clarification and it won’t be possible to hold regular standups to offer guidance.
Create robust communication frameworks outlining the best ways for teams to collaborate, channels to use, and how to handle different scenarios. For example, you could approve Slack as the best channel for teams to keep in touch. When it comes to sending instant messages, Matt recommends asking teammates to write with relentless clarity and purposeful empathy.
Besides that, define how meetings will take place and the preferred virtual meeting tool. The communication should also offer guidelines for regular check-ins with teammates and how to use available communication tools. You could also set up surveys to find out ways to keep members motivated during meetings.
Your software stack is reminiscent of the rally car’s engine: if any part isn’t functioning properly you won’t win the race.
Make sure remote workers have all the tools they need to keep operations sailing along. These include computers, webcams, headsets, and most importantly, software. For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency, you’ll need reliable communication, project management, human resource management, and accounting tools, to name a few.
Giving employees the tools is only one part of the puzzle; the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is training. Remember: Software solutions are only useful if they are utilized correctly. When you implement new tools, be sure to provide adequate training on making the most of the tools.
Picture this: When employees work from one physical space, there’s always the feeling of togetherness. Teammates can feel the presence of their colleagues around them, chat during lunch, or organize coffee chats after work.
Remote work takes away these benefits from the employees and may lead to a feeling of isolation. When isolation creeps in it may cause loneliness, which can in turn, impact employee wellbeing and mental health. Statistics show that 20% of remote employees struggle with loneliness and 33% are concerned about their mental health.
It’s your responsibility as the manager or business owner to make loneliness and burnout dissipate. Support the team in the right way to keep them engaged and motivated. One way is to offer remote workers an Employees Assistance Program (EAP).
Additionally, offer free or discounted access to wellbeing sessions or fitness classes. Doing so ensures workers are engaging in physical activities to maintain good health. Moreover, conduct regular check-ins with employees to identify issues impacting their wellbeing.
Remote working isn’t a set-and-forget process. For one, you have to frequently evaluate your model to determine whether it's working or not. Is it aligning with your business goals? Are employees as engaged and motivated as they were in an office setting?
To understand all these things you have to monitor processes. And then, use the insights to improve your remote model to achieve the desired results. Over time, you’ll have the remote work model driven by a unified performance culture.