As the COVID-19 crisis sweeps the globe, businesses are rapidly adjusting to current conditions and putting remote work into practice. Many have embraced this model for years, claiming great success. Some organizations that have mastered a great remote workplace culture boast that it increases both productivity and profits. But it seems that the key to employing a successful remote workforce is having a lot of knowledge about the pro’s and con’s of remote team work upfront, clearly defining and communicating the new remote workplace culture to all employees before giving the green light to work off site and providing employees with the support and tools they need to do their work and succeed in a remote workspace.
How it’s defined
There are many terms for working at home. They include telework and/or working remotely or working virtually. It all means the same thing and given the choice, more than half of employees seem to prefer the option to work for a remote team as outlined in Gallup.com article, written by Adam Hickman and Jennifer Robison called, Is working remotely effective? Gallup research says yes. Why? It allows employees to take care of their lives at the same time and it gives them other freedoms as well. Organizations with great company cultures can benefit as well. They can save money on real estate and monthly utilities that they would have otherwise paid to accommodate all employees at the same workplace location.
One workplace culture size won’t fit all
But organizations with a remote workforce will need to revise their workplace culture to include and support telework employees and ensure that their work has purpose and meaning, as stated in the Deloitte.com article written by Sonny Chheng, Kelly Monahan and Karen Reid called, Beyond office walls and balance sheets: Culture and the alternative workforce, “Some companies already recognize the challenges of maintaining a consistent culture across locations and extending it to people in alternative workforce arrangements.” But it can be done.
“Make working remotely as simple as possible for this employee segment. Invest in technologies that support digital collaboration and make working and connecting from off-campus easy. As feelings of being excluded from the goings-on can sometimes plague remote workers, take care to include tenured remote workers when scheduling ad hoc meetings where their involvement would be valuable. In addition, consider creating opportunities for these workers to interact in person with other employees—for instance, through annual retreats or local lunches—to encourage trust and team-building. Lastly, this can be an easy group to overlook when it comes to recognition and acknowledgment of milestones. Openly reward and acknowledge tenured remote workers’ efforts using venues such as company-wide town halls or newsletters.”
Different needs and responsibilities
Organizations that require remote workers will also need to understand the different conduct that’s required from managers and employees in these arrangements:
- Managers who traditionally measure productivity by time spent at a workstation, now measure remote work only by results.
- Managers may need to check on new employees more regularly at first, until a trusting remote work relationship is established.
- Managers need to master remote communications: They need to clearly explain their deadlines and work expectations to all employees that work remotely, Clear and honest communication is even more important for remote workers as noted in this Hubspot video called Stop Managing Your Remote Workers As If They Work Onsite.
- Remote workers require a support system: For example, mentors they can access throughout the workday who have worked remotely and understand the benefits and challenges.
- Remote workers require a package of tips and tools on how to deal with challenges such as: Hitting a wall and being unable to focus, being distracted by area noises, setting boundaries, establishing routines, designing a workspace that increases concentration and productivity, maintaining ongoing relationships with coworkers, interacting with people in the outside world, controlling chat requests from co-workers when working on priority assignments and more.
Given the right tools and support, a remote workforce can continue to drive your organization’s success.