Date posted: 16th March 2020
Think differently about remote working
Whether your staff work in a traditional office or from home, you want them to deliver the best possible results. However, if you think they could simply apply office work practices to remote working, think again; remote working requires a different style of work, with employers and employees using different techniques to be successful.
How to implement remote working as an employer
Setting up your ‘virtual workspace’ to support remote workers can be beneficial for teams to be productive quickly. There are a plethora of communication tools available such as Slack, Skype, Zoom and Asana which allow the whole team to collaborate, share and maintain transparency of tasks, which are all available 24/7. If you haven’t been using these tools as part of your process up until now, decide what you will use and get these tools installed. It is worth using the tools or having some trial runs while everyone is still in the office, if possible, to mitigate any IT issues once people are on their own at home. Put simply, the more familiar people are with systems, the easier it is for them to migrate from office to virtual working.
Ensuring that asset management is available both on-site and off-site enables teams to work more efficiently, no matter where they are working. Backing up data to hard drives or platforms such as Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive allows for secure, easy access to files and data when needed.
If your team are forced to use home computers for work, security and access issues could come into play, so wherever possible encourage them to use their provided work devices. Consider re-sharing and reviewing any data security policies in place.
How to implement remote working as an employee
Away from the rigidity of a traditional office plan, remote working presents a unique set of challenges. There are some best practices for remote work that relate to routine management to ensure minimal impact on productivity, or perhaps even an increase in productivity. Here are our thoughts on making this happen:
- Some people find the lack of enforced routine difficult to adapt to. But just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean you cannot have a routine, it just means it needs to be self-imposed. One way to set a good schedule is to wake up, shower and get dressed as you would to go into the office at the same time every day. An added benefit is that you’re always ready for an impromptu video call.
- Being able to leave your work area at the end of the day and set limits is a key part of remote working. This helps maintain the natural rhythm and cadence of the working day. Of course, don’t forget to take breaks too. A quick, brisk walk at lunchtime can do wonders for creativity.
- Experiment with a few different work settings to find which one works best; for example, a separate desk in a quiet part of the house works well when you have to make calls or concentrate on a task. Then, working in another part of the home to create content do or research could prove beneficial.
- Most office workers have certain standards and a specific schedule, but you can choose how to set up your schedule, which may be the same as you are used to. Alternatively, this could present a great opportunity to try something different. There may well be a requirement to change schedules, as you might have childcare or family commitments that need some flexibility.
- It can easily be assumed that working remotely means that you sit at a desk and stay there for hours until you have completed all your tasks. However, flexibility and a shift in thinking and planning time can make you more effective or productive. For example, you may find your writing best in the late evening, but jumping on calls and video conferences are ideal for earlier in the day, with afternoon breaks.
- Remember to use the communication tools that have been set up to reach out to colleagues. A quick call can sometimes resolve an issue much more quickly than an email. A video conference call with your team can be just the energy boost you need to get through that last set of tasks before the end of the day.
Some final thoughts
These tips are part of our ongoing effort to help our clients stay connected and productive. Here are our final, considered thoughts on the matter.
- When considering onboarding new staff for remote work, you need to be sure that you have full confidence in their responsibility, work ethic and skills. When you develop your leadership skills from a distance, you want to have people who have the benefit of the doubt in their work and performance. If screening and interviewing need to be done remotely, consider tools like Hinterview.
- The better an organisation works to establish a culture of ownership, the easier the transition will be for your team members who need to work remotely to be responsible for their work.
- You may need to implement a file-sharing system or intranet with processes and onboarding documentation so that even new remote employees can quickly learn how to communicate effectively in your team. Tools like BreatheHR can keep this documentation organised and accessible from anywhere, while automating some HR tasks.
- If you communicate largely through text, there is a risk that some messages will be miscommunicated. If your organisation uses email and keeps things formal, it is great to take the time to check that you are polite in every email. We highly encourage the use of video and audio at least daily to ensure you are connecting with your team in a more personal way.
- Don’t forget to establish an entertaining and engaging culture, even if it’s remotely. Managers can help address these issues by giving remote employees time to get to know their team on a more personal level. This will ensure that employees feel more comfortable when they need to address issues at work.
If you need help on how to implement remote working, our HR team at Kingswood Group are ready to help you transition your team to remote working, recruit remotely, or give bespoke advice on what your responsibilities are as an employer. Please feel free to contact us anytime for additional information.
Alternatively, for more information, you can check out some of our related articles such as ‘how to get a free HR health check’ or ‘How to build the right workforce’.