Recent research has found that remote workers are actually more productive than employees who head into the office every day. So, it’s no wonder remote work has a number of benefits for both employees and companies.
Business owners have found that a distributed workforce not only cuts costs for a business but there’s also less turnover. If you’re thinking about working remotely or having a distributed team – here are the essentials you need to know.
What Is Remote Work?
Thanks mainly to the pandemic, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people required to work remotely in the last two years. This has also meant that working closely in offices has become unsafe.
Millions of workers are suddenly working in a new way, being legally required to work from home rather than in the traditional office they’re accustomed to.
For the first time, multi-billion dollar companies globally saw the benefits of offering a more flexible lifestyle – while employees had more control over their work.
But just what is remote work?
Put very simply, remote jobs enable you to work from anywhere – while still being employed by a company.
As a remote employee, you can work for a company based in Sweden but complete your work from anywhere in the world, so long as you meet the work outlined in your employment contract.
So, as an example, if a roofing SEO company in New York hired you, and you typically live in Denmark – you will complete your work from there. But, if you decided to travel for a while, you could do so – so long as you do the job.
If you see the term 'fully remote' in terms of a company description, more than likely, every member of staff will work in a remote office
In another situation, the company might have an office hub but hire staff who will work fully remotely and will never need to head to the office.
When you see flexible hours, an employee can choose when they work, allowing them to have total autonomy.
A flexible lifestyle and work schedules are often combined with working from a home office and remote working contracts – but not always.
Working From Home
Working from home is more often used to describe people who usually work in a corporate office, but instead perform their work duties from home on certain days. It is more often used to describe people who may be part-time.
A remote working lifestyle covers a broader range of working outside an office environment, covering working from home, a fully remote working lifestyle, flexible hours, and working abroad.
Although the distinctions are slight, they matter when reading the terms of employment or browsing job opportunities.
But working remotely doesn't feel the same as working in an office environment.
So, it begs the question, how does remote working affect and impact non-remote employees and customer success?
For those team members who enjoy commuting and the overall buzz of office workers, going from that to working alone can be a big shock
Equally, for working parents, while schools and universities were closed, they were no longer in a different environment. Tackling home learning and busy children – with a full-time job
Remote working also highlighted how unhappy people were in their current roles, and that perhaps they could've been working remotely for a lot longer.
Although some workers need the office to have structure and routine, other workers thrive in a home setting.
What Are The Benefits Of Remote Work?
Unsurprisingly, the benefits of remote companies can be seen and felt by both employees and employers.
Since remote working became quickly ingrained in society, it broke all the boundaries of attracting the best talent.
Going back to an earlier example, imagine a fast-moving tech startup in Scotland that needs some of the highest-qualified developers to tackle a project. Let's say that those developers are based in India.
While they could have always hired outside talent, there was an unspoken expectation that the team would work under the same roof for the best results.
So, people who could relocate or make it to the office were given preference.
But now that remote working is the norm, the requirement for everyone to work from home gives companies the chance to implement tools and an infrastructure that allows for fully remote staff.
For example, that incredible developer from India will now be hired because they are the most qualified. Ultimately, a remote work policy allows for a global business and could potentially be the future of work.
Some of the other significant benefits of remote work include:
The hours and energy it takes to prepare for work and commute become non-existent. Instead, energy can be spent with family or relaxing.
The health-related, financial, and environmental advantages alone make working from home an attractive option.
To list a few:
Saves employees money (often hundreds of dollars per month)
Prevents staff lateness
Allows staff to start work earlier
Improved environmental impact (both locally and globally)
Saves the organization money (they can offer flexible working instead of higher wages)
Improved equality for those who find it hard to travel
Employees are better rested
Employees are safer (if previously walking or cycling through busy areas)
Employees are healthier (if previously sitting in traffic or using public transport).
Essentially, this gives workers the opportunity to work on complex ideas, creative ideas, and tasks during their optimal productivity hours. This also means that simple things like taking the children to school become possible.
For many employers, so long as the work is done, there is more freedom for the employee. It has long been suggested that if non-remote employees were given the freedom to work from home, perhaps they wouldn't be productive.
However, studies show that employees are more effective with more off-site days.
Although employers should still ensure that their employees are doing well, well-being and human potential have improved for the remote workforce.
The stress of the commute is not a factor for remote workers anymore, nor is being away from pets and family.
With fewer non-remote employees in a corporate office, employers have fewer costs. A traditional workspace can be a considerable overhead, so downsizing can improve a company’s profits.
When you embrace remote working, the world becomes your talent pool. And attracting and retaining best-in-class talent becomes more accessible.
A traditional office is often noisy and distracting. Phones are ringing, people are talking, and there’s a general buzz. While this is great from a social point of view, it can be difficult to work in this environment.
Some people need to work in total silence to focus. Working remotely, particularly from home, can allow for creative thinking and greater productivity.
Whether there’s a great view from the window or a brick wall – silence is golden.
What Are the Challenges of Remote Work?
Remote working presents a unique set of challenges. And while the benefits are often more significant, the challenges should be factored into your decisions.
Should that email be a call? Are remote meetings the best way to approach this conversation? And what if your team is in different amounts of time zones? Even though you can manually find out when two time zones overlap, a good time zone converter is highly convenient.
Communication is one of the most critical factors in your business.
And coordination of conversations and projects relies on clear communication with the whole team.
When we’re not working face-to-face, evaluating body language and tone of voice can get lost in text and on camera. This means people work extra hard to communicate while using video call technology.
The over-exaggeration of body language and conversation leads to what is referred to as ‘Zoom burnout’ or ‘video call burnout’.
However, this can be avoided with intelligent communication and preventing video calls that are scheduled back-to-back.
Remote Team Culture
When the whole team is together under one roof, the company's work culture becomes part of how they function. This means that remote workers can miss out on an already established work culture.
It is vital to ensure remote workers feel like being part of the team is essential.
They may feel like they have less visibility than those within office hubs. This can lead to feelings of isolation and a disconnect between the employee and the company.
This is why providing common ways for team members to connect outside of projects is essential. These ways can include:
Fun instant messages and a remote email list
Sending out packages with company logos on them.
The important thing is to include the team in your work culture to achieve the best results.
Tracking an employee’s output becomes a little more difficult without becoming a micro-manager. Since remote workers are also aware of this, they are more likely to overperform and burn out to display their performance.
Setting realistic deliverables combined with clear communication will allow employees to meet their targets and avoid burnout
Time tracking software is an option, too, although some remote workers might feel constricted by them
The best course of action is to work with employees you trust to get the job done.
Since all remote workers will need a laptop or computer to complete work and a mobile phone to take calls related to work, levels of security can become an issue.
Unfortunately, this means breaches, hacks, and leaks can jeopardize the levels of built-in security your company has in place.
Some of the most sensitive information would usually be discussed in private when in person. But when employees work from home, their confidential conversations become vulnerable.
Secure access and connections using a home network and a VPN are one of the best courses of action to combat security threats.
You can use some free VPN solutions that don't require any monetary investment and, at the same time, establish a secure connection to the internet.
A VPN will give you secure access and will help to ensure that all the communications between your team members will be encrypted.
You can also enforce a two-factor authentication policy for all team members and ensure that everyone adheres to password best practice policies.
How To Introduce Remote Working In Your Business
You may have been forced to implement remote working due to the pandemic, but are now considering how you can have it as part of your company at all times.
To decide whether a remote work structure is the right fit for your business, you need to consider your current team size, future business goals, and the current culture within your office and amongst your office workers.
Here are some considerations to help make your decision:
What technology do you currently have available to facilitate remote workers?
Do you have any programs that will be used to keep your remote workers engaged in your remote team culture?
What steps will you take to ensure that each of your remote staff has digital access to the same level of technology to complete the job, like those in the office?
What expectations will be set by the company, and what will your managers and human resources team set for your remote teams?
How will you tackle hiring and firing once the team is fully remote?
Do you foresee an entirely remote workforce, or will you have a hybrid approach and an office space with some office staff and several remote staff?
Your company's employment and working structure should take some consideration.
If the last two years have shown you that you can handle the challenges and enjoy the benefits of a remote working team, it should be something that you see in your company’s future.
How To Manage Remote Work
Create Clear Communication Guidelines
If you’re working remotely in a remote environment, it’s easy to let communication fall by the wayside, and instead, let your team operate pretty independently. However, that’s precisely what you want to steer clear of.
You must work to create a virtual team presence where all feel comfortable.
As a manager, it’s critical to keep the flow of information about what’s happening individually, in a team, and in the company transparent and available for everyone to see.
Keeping Your Teams Engaged
Only set precise deadlines where needed. Accept that a remote worker’s schedule may differ, but that they will still get their work done.
Have informal check-ins at least once a week. These can be both team chats and one-on-one. Set up a weekly or monthly reporting system, so you still have oversight on tasks and project progress. This includes a remote work report.
Preventing Employee Isolation
If you’ve moved to a remote working model, even if only temporarily, then isolation may be a real challenge for many people on your team.
You have a responsibility to ensure work is being done, and that your workers have support and digital resources.
You can ensure your team is feeling valued by:
Ensuring remote workers are recognized and appreciated – virtual shoutouts go a long way
Using faster team collaboration tools and digital resources, so workers are connected
Utilizing remote work opportunities like digital team building
Define Precise Standards For Remote Work Productivity
Remote workers may choose different schedules for how they work from home – not to slack, but to fit when they’re most productive during the day. They essentially choose their most effective remote work time to be online.
Set timeframes. These could be daily, weekly, or monthly
Define KPIs. For example, you may want a content writer to submit a specific word count every week
Set milestones for tasks or overall projects. Bigger jobs, creative ideas, and complex ideas can significantly benefit from this as it not only makes things easier, but it helps collect data for future planning.
Gather Feedback Regularly
If you’re moving to a remote model for the first time, for a limited time, or an ongoing process, gathering feedback is essential to ensure that it’s working well for your team.
Feedback helps you identify weak points that need adjusting or even things that aren’t working at all.
There are several ways you can do this:
If you’re already having remote meetings with individual workers, use them to ask if they feel current processes work well
Anonymous polls or surveys can gather data on different aspects of your working model
If you can have workshops, use them for troubleshooting issues with your model, and gain recommendations.
Provide Emotional Support
You already know that isolation is a problem that can impact the psychological well-being and mental health of your team. So, how can you show support?
Don’t wait for people to tell you things. Ask questions, then actively listen. It costs nothing to ask a team member how they are coping at the end of a business call
Practice empathy. It’s not enough to hear about any problems – you need to be able to understand them too
Focus on values. Even as you begin to work differently, it’s important to focus on any company values. Remind your remote team members of them and use them to both encourage and inspire
Create support networks. It can help deal with personal issues by talking and listening to your peers. Set up online meeting groups that are only there to speak or let off steam.
Getting The Most Out Of Remote Working
To make the most out of remote work, it is crucial that you gain remote work experience to understand how to navigate the global recruitment process.
Accommodate those applying from countries other than where your business is located. This might require some flexibility in the primary language used in your business
To make the most out of remote working and remote work processes, they should look to find a work-life balance. Having a comfortable and productive workspace is a must
As an employer, you must ensure that your employees have the training necessary to do the job remotely successfully
This includes providing them with workflow tools and all the required devices like phones, laptops, and maybe even office furniture.
If you have already gone through the remote working process due to the pandemic, you have a good understanding of whether your company is ready for remote work or not.
You can reach out to your current employees to find out more about their opinions and experiences while they have been required to work remotely. Their insights and feedback can help you build a stronger foundation for a future with a remote working team.
It is essential to view remote working as more than just a trend for the workforce; it is a fully working concept of working anywhere and any time.
This can be beneficial for a multitude of industries, and keep you level up with your competitors.
Employee training is vital to the success of any organization. Investing time and money in staff education can energize an entire organization. Let’s see why employee training can be the difference between average and excellence.
Employee engagement is a tough nut to crack – especially given the fact that it can vary from company to company and person to person. Nevertheless, there are a few important factors that every employee engagement strategy should consider.