The COVID-19 pandemic has overturned how people work, as an unprecedented number of companies were forced to work remotely in order to survive. Although the work-for-home setup offers plenty of opportunities, there are also some threats that we need to consider.
While there were many companies that benefited from work from home even before the pandemic, some companies are not wholly sold out on the idea. Flexible work options may not always be feasible or convenient for companies, but if employers can offer them without risking productivity, it is wise to offer them.
Remote Work Statistics
Let’s take a look at what employees and employers think of remote working.
- About 82%of hiring managers said that they will continue to allow their employees to work remotely.
- About 59% of hiring managers claimed remote work had a positive impact on their organization, and 37% said they experienced an increase in productivity.
- Around 40%of employees said they would leave their job if they did not have the option of working from home at least two or three days a week.
- However, over 40% of all employees would also feel concerned over their career progress if they were not coming to the office while their coworkers were.
Employee retention is an important consideration when it comes to working models. According to an IWG survey, hybrid work helps organizations reduce turnover among vulnerable employees, including people who have mental health concerns, or with child care or elderly issues.
If employees are more comfortable working from home, it may be wise of employers to make sure employees have access to things like stand-up desks, laptop computers, the right lighting fixtures, digital security, and high-speed internet.
Although job flexibility is enjoyed by most employees, if designed poorly, it can actually reduce employee satisfaction and lead to a high retention rate. In addition, some workers do not prefer their personal and work lives to merge together. As such, although some employees want to merge their work life and home life as much as possible, others want to keep them completely demarcated.
Hence, when considering remote work or hybrid work for employees, there are some threats and opportunities that employers need to weigh upon.
Providing Clear Guidelines
When employees work remotely, they need to be given clear guidelines so that they remain aligned with the company’s objective and vision. As such, employers need to provide them with the right information, support, and instruction so that they may work effectively and independently.
Companies need to outline the role and responsibilities of employees, as well as best practices for achieving goals, and let them know they expect them to be followed. You can also offer them training, mentoring, and coaching sessions so that they develop their skill sets.
Setting Goals and Expectations
Setting goals and expectations is not a one-time event – it is a process. Goals and expectations need to be adjusted based on performance, feedback, and any changes that work in the remote working environment.
Companies can perform periodic reviews of their team’s achievements, challenges, and success, learn from their mistakes and failures, and celebrate successes. It is important to welcome feedback on the goals and involve employees in their planning and decision-making process.
Aligning Goals With the Mission
Smart leaders align every remote employee’s personal goal with a broader company mission. This can enhance your employees’ engagement and sense of purpose. This kind of initiative allows employees to see exactly how much of their work is contributing to the overall mission and success of the company.
This not only creates a concrete link between each employee’s task and company goals, but also fosters a deep sense of belonging and commitment among employees working from home.
The company should clearly communicate its mission, vision, and goals to remote employees. It is essential that all remote employees have a clear understanding of these as that can help them understand how their work will benefit the company. In addition, it will help them realize how others in their team and even employees in other departments are contributing to the company’s success.
Communication is key to creating collaboration and trust in a remote team. You should communicate all your goals and expectations to a remote team using different formats and channels.
It is important to encourage your remote employees to communicate with their team members as well as offer them ample opportunity to share ideas, voice concerns, and ask questions.
Brainstorming meetings are essential to foster creativity, ideas, and innovation. Brainstorming meetings with virtual employees involve a video conference where you have a number of people in a single virtual place, sharing ideas and getting creative. It gives them a platform where they can share their creative ideas with everyone in the team.
Brainstorming meetings can be extremely fun and productive. Every remote worker can be given five minutes to think of a super-awesome idea and note it down. Then, everyone shares their ideas with the team.
The team can then pick the ideas that they like best and vote for them. The votes are picked and then a key decision maker makes the final judgment call on which idea or ideas they should incorporate in their business strategy.
This offers a great opportunity for everyone in the team to be heard and in fact, it can lead to extraordinary ideas that can lead to awesome outcomes.
Offering Transparency on the Company’s State
When it comes to remote employees, offering transparency and trust is more important than ever. You cannot expect your remote teams to work well if you do not trust them and are transparent about the state of the company.
Some things that your employees need to know are the details of your business strategy, the decision made by the employers and why, and the financial position of the company. In addition, the employers should also give details about the competition, who the industry leaders are, what the industry trends are, and a complete awareness of the competition in the industry.
Aside from this, employers should also provide information about their colleagues, promotions and incentives, and other kinds of internal information. All of this information gives your employees the confidence and the transparency they need to move forward for the company’s success.
Training and Development
If you are providing remote working opportunities to your employees, it is even more important to invest in their training and development so that they can improve their knowledge and skill sets that are aligned with the company’s goals. This not just helps them to grow personally, but also helps them recognize their own strengths and capabilities and align them with the company’s mission.
Creating a Culture of Trust and Accountability
If you are providing your employees remote working opportunities, then you should also trust them to manage their tasks and responsibilities effectively. Employees feel more empowered and autonomous when you stop micromanaging them and give them leeway to work on their own.
This also means that they will be more likely to take ownership of their tasks and make sure their efforts align with the company’s overarching objectives.
When it comes to remote working employees, out of sight, out of mind is not a good option for companies. Instead, employers need to make their workers understand that their work is still relevant and important and that they have not been forgotten.
Publicly recognizing a remote worker’s accomplishments, whether big or small, can help everyone feel connected and valued. Employers can take various approaches to celebrate achievements, including sending company-wide emails, giving a shout-out to the worker during a team meeting, posting on the company’s internal platform, and even giving them a prize or bonus for a job well done.
Welcoming Employee Feedback
Involving remote workers in important decision-making processes is a great way to increase their sense of belonging with the company. Employers who actively seek feedback, suggestions, and ideas, help to create a culture of inclusiveness in the company and make remote employees feel empowered, involved, and vested in the success of the company.
Companies can offer various venues for remote workers to share their feedback, including using digital platforms, online brainstorming sessions, or regular surveys and polls.
Providing the Right Tools
It is important to make sure that your team is well-equipped with everything they need to get the job done right. This means they should have all the necessary hardware and software, including laptops, accessories, CRM, internet connectivity, set up and login instructions, support information, and so much more, depending on the different levels of tech expertise of the employees.
Beyond the mandatory remote work equipment and tools, you should also consider offering something of good value to your team. For example, you can allocate them a certain amount each month to buy a new keyboard or mouse, or get a coffee gift card. You should also consider making an informal chat space on social tools like Slack where the team can discuss things like movies, concerts, entertainment, and other stuff.
Having a Comprehensive Onboarding Process
The process of onboarding a new employee can be tricky in an in-office setting. So, when an employee is working remotely, you can just imagine how complicated the process can be. However, this is the very reason why you need to make sure the new employee onboarding process is a success.
Keep in mind that you should just consider the first couple of days of your employee and watch for signs of dropping engagement. A successful and comprehensive onboarding process is built so that your new remote employees can be seen and heard.
Being Aware of Remote Working Challenges
Although remote working comes with a limitless range of opportunities, employees and employers can also experience several obstacles in it. As a leadership team, you need to be aware of these challenges and find viable approaches to navigate them.
By acknowledging the challenges of remote working, you signal to the employees that you understand their difficulties and support them.
Drawbacks of Remote Working
Although most people want the freedom and flexibility that comes from working remotely, employers should realize that there is a whole new set of challenges when it comes to finding work-life balance on a remote working model.
Another very important thing that employees and employers should consider is the need for cybersecurity since remote workers are at a higher risk of security breaches. Remote workers also do not have direct, in-person contact with their team members and supervisors which can make them feel cut off and lonely and can impact their mental health.
Allowing your employees to work from home comes with immediate advantages like better work-life balance for many and schedule flexibility, which can boost an employee’s morale and help increase retention and absenteeism rate.
When it comes to employee productivity, there is a big debate on whether remote work increases or decreases it. The thing is that if you are a great employee, your work will not become any less productive if you are working from home, provided you have been given all the tools and equipment you need to get your job done.
Ultimately, it all rests upon the employees themselves. As things stand, it doesn’t look like remote work is going away any time soon. Aside from the value to employees, companies also reap many benefits as well, including overhead cost savings. Some people even believe that remote work will increase even more from home. As such, it is important that companies keep looking for new innovative ways to make remote working experience more convenient and enjoyable for employees in order to get the most efficiency and productivity from them.