If this ongoing pandemic has brought upon one positive, it surely has to be the boom of remote work. With more than 70% of the US population working remotely and most employees expected to demand a work from home atmosphere post Covid19, it’s something an entrepreneur must grip its hands around if not done already.
But remote work can come with several challenges, ranging from difficulties in managing time, 22% finding it difficult to unplug after work, 17% struggling to communicate adequately, eventually leading to 19% claiming loneliness as their biggest struggle.
There’s no perfect straight forward recipe for remote work that would work for all businesses and employees but there surely are major ingredients with which the outcome can change drastically for the good. But with so many different views, who should you trust? Who better than the experts who’ve aced this dish of remote work. Here are some of the suggested ingredients or should we say lessons by remote work leaders:
- Health Is Paramount
While remote work reduces the chance of your physical health from being at risk by avoiding the chances of contracting the virus, it sure can follow with other health hazards if not implemented well.
- With the biggest obstacle for remote workers being the inability to flip the switch off when work hours are done and this lack of boundary has called for high stress and blood pressure levels amongst employees.
Tip: Expect & Support A Period Of Adjustment
While employers assume working from home and avoiding the community is an enormous benefit for all, for some people it’s quite the opposite. For many their home isn’t set up well for working especially with distractions from family, roommates or even pets. For which managers should expect a period of adjustment and ensure managers are trained to help the team with this adjustment.
By implementing regular meetings to understand their remote working needs and issues they encounter, your staff can feel more empowered, adjust faster and perform better. By inviting staff to provide feedback to improve tools, platforms or initiatives to simply this shift, your remote working culture can be drastically improved.
2. The reductions in water cooler conversation can also lead to feelings of loneliness as suggested by research from Cornell University. This social isolation can be tied with increased chances of mortality risk, heart stroke, depression, problems sleeping and substance abuse.
Tip: Allow for channels of virtual water cooler conversations
A channel or a group especially dedicated to have informed interactions can help foster that lost sense of connection. Introduction of movie nights, virtual happy hour, talent hunts are tiny ways you can allow for positive relationships to be built in your workforce, increasing communication, productivity, satisfaction and reducing stress levels.
3. Emotional and cognitive health aside, your physical health can also be impacted by reduced body movements due to absence of commuting, also multiplying risk of type 2 Diabetes, heart diseases and Cancer.
Tip: Encouraging Remote Exercise
The water-cooler channels can be divided into specific interest groups for those interested in sharing their exercise journey or inspirational content to motivate employees. Setting up Yoga classes or 10,000 steps everyday challenges can also be great motivators. Another way businesses can encourage employees is to get out-and-about during calls.
One helpful approach suggested by top leaders is a top-down approach that empowers colleagues to take walking calls on those meetings that don’t require visual aids. Research has shown there are numerous benefits to walking meetings; they can boost creative thinking, improve focus and increase productivity. Time-efficient way of getting some exercise and also also improves work performance= bingo!
- There’s No Shying Away From Digital
Several known companies like Novartis mentioned that “doing a digital transformation” is now urgent, and that means tools, norms, culture, and behaviors. As long as you strive from the most common mistakes of digital transformation, you should be able to succeed with great results
To summarise that, digital is imperative, more than ever now. There is no option of doing it on paper, you’ve got to make your way around using online tools, while physical meetings won’t replace virtual ones, but they’re here to stay post pandemic too and understanding it’s elements is important.
Tip: Choose Your Tools Wisely and Educate Your Employees About Its Functionality
When you decide to be fully remote, setting up collaborative tools and platforms is the first step. When you search up online tools for businesses, it’s no shocker that an extensive yet confusing list of 100+ softwares shows up. From project management tools, communication channels, video conferencing, note-taking, which one’s best for you and your business should not be affected by what everyone else is picking.
To solve this dilemma of choosing the right tools, you need to answer 5 key questions:
1) What are your business's key processes and which of them can be improved by online tools? To begin with, you need to have a list of your core and non-core processes.
2) What tools do I currently have? Do I need a similar one if I already have one in place?
3) How does it integrate with my systems?
4) How much will it cost? Is it worth investing?
5) What Training and Support is available?
Once you have these answered, you’ll make a better decision and remember it's not about choosing a good tool that everyone recommends, it’s about finding the right tool to suit your business’s needs.
Now once you have that sorted, it's about training your employees. Yes, the tool you might choose might be top-notch but is there a point if your employees can’t seem to grasp its features? In fact, did you know that 40% of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year according to go2HR.
Offering workplace training from e-learning courses, webinars and videos can be effective in understanding new technology and also as little on tips to present themselves on a video call with clients( clear background, mannered appearance and a distraction less environment) - Check out other tips on creating a professional virtual set-up.
From the two major lessons of ensuring health is utmost priority and training employees effectively, it’s clear that if you want to whiz this dish of remote work you’ve got to put on your leadership hat and nurture your workforce like a plant. Once they adjust into this new norm and get the drift, it’s going to be a cakewalk. Think about it, must be a reason why leaders around the world still believe in an old saying that goes, “employees are your biggest asset”.
Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. - Richard Branson, Founder, The Virgin Group