Remote working is here to stay and will continue to increase in 2023, say experts. Even as offices open up and people start reporting to work, remote working will continue to be the norm for many organisations. The workplace of the future will be hybrid, which will feature a mix of in-office and remote work to offer flexibility, support and better work-life balance to employees.
To foster an effective remote working environment, it will become essential for business leaders to re-learn and reimagine how they manage people. From day-to-day tasks, collaboration, and social interactions to performance reviews, remote working is transforming how, when and where people work.
Here are key best practices to make remote working successful for employees and businesses.
8 best practices to follow
1. Ensure employees have the right infrastructure
This is the first step toward building a remote-friendly company. Ensure all your employees have the correct setup to conduct their work seamlessly. This includes laptops, webcams, robust WiFi connections, collaboration tools, security software, and more. If they do not have it, loan them the equipment and get your IT expert to install all required software so employees can work efficiently and safely.
2. Set clear expectations
Remote working comes with its own set of challenges. When not managed properly, it can lead to confusion and chaos. You can avoid this from the get-go by setting clear expectations. This includes work goals, deadlines, workflow, availability, performance, feedback, etc. Ensure all employees are aware of what is required of them and how and when they need to deliver. This will allow people to work cohesively, improve efficiencies and avoid friction.
3. Insist on communication and transparency
Communication and transparency comprise the foundation on which remote working practices are built. There is no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to remote working. Even though people are working from different parts of the world, they still need to work as a team. The only way to make this possible is through communication and transparency. Identify other channels people can use for one-on-one chats, team meetings, and sharing of resources and updates. This will allow everyone to be on the same page, connect with each other and build relationships based on trust.
4. Adopt collaboration and remote working tools
While collaborative tools have been around for some time, they saw massive adoption during the pandemic. In fact, they played the role of saviour for many businesses that had to shift to remote working overnight. To make remote working successful, deploy collaboration tools and train your employees to use them effectively. These will help them stay connected, work as a team and be productive from anywhere. Popular collaboration tools include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Blink, Google Docs, Asana, and Trello, among many others.
5. Offer flexibility
According to research published in Indeed’s Hiring Tracker, for nearly 80% of the jobseekers work-life balance is important, with 41% stating it to be the ‘most important’. Remember that your employees are juggling several responsibilities while working from home, such as household tasks, taking care of children and looking after elderly parents. They may also be working in a different time zone. Hence, it is imperative to offer them the flexibility to choose how and when they work. This will allow them to find the most optimum way of working, be more efficient and deliver at a better standard.
6. Set healthy boundaries
One of the downsides to remote working is that it can blur the lines between professional and personal life as people tend to be available to work round the clock. This is not sustainable and can impact employee productivity, physical and mental health and family dynamics. As a business leader, it is crucial that you set healthy boundaries. It might be prudent to lead by example by limiting hours of availability, promoting a healthy lifestyle, encouraging self-care, and more.
7. Catch up socially
Working in an office is not just about working. People form friendships and even create work families within organisations. This could take a major hit when working remotely. So, think about how you can have people interact beyond the scope of work in a remote setup. Encourage your staff to socialise virtually, connect and build relationships. You can create an alternative channel dedicated to non-work communication. Also, make it a point to connect one-on-one with your employees in an informal setting whenever you can. This will create a sense of camaraderie, increase productivity and lead to happy employees.
8. Foster employee wellbeing
Remote working has drastically reduced social interactions. With many people living away from family, it can lead to loneliness. As a business leader, the onus of their overall welfare lies on you. Employee well-being is just as crucial as offering training and professional growth opportunities. You can do this by providing emotional support to your team members, checking on them, encouraging them to take mental health days and seek counselling, if needed.
Whether full-time or hybrid, remote working is not going anywhere. Following these best practices can get you started in the right direction. However, every business is different, and you may need to figure out what works for you through trial and error. Get feedback from employees on the challenges they are facing while remote working. If something is amiss, be agile enough to pivot. Include your employees in your remote working policy decision-making. After all, happy employees lead to successful businesses.