In today’s working world, there’s no longer a traditional work space. Cubicle farms are a thing of the past and traditional office spaces aren’t so traditional any longer. Thanks to modern technology, some companies have entire workforces that work remotely. And many workplaces have a combination of in-office and remote working that benefits the company, its bottom line, employees and their personal lives.
Remote working is a good thing. It promotes positive behavior and improves employee satisfaction. It reduces unscheduled absences, can save employers money and tends to cut down on wasted time. And remote working has dramatic and valuable effect on employee productivity. Studies show that at home workers are happier, much more productive and less likely to quit. And remote working expands the talent pool available to your organization, too. You are no longer limited to hiring only those who are geographically close to you. That means you have access to the best of the best.
Creating a unified company culture with a remote workforce is more challenging than if those same folks worked in a physical office space, but it’s certainly not impossible. Today’s technologies allow companies in many industries to utilize a variety of remote working options to ensure employee cohesiveness and ultimately corporate success.
When executed incorrectly, remote working can cause problems quickly. One way to avoid concerns is to communicate freely with employees. Establish expectations, and check in often. Communicate your company culture. Share news freely…and frequently. A partial or complete remote workforce may require you to adjust your key company messages and goals for your company culture as you grow, expand and change. Don’t be afraid to refine your company values…edit and adjust as your team grows and learns together.
Utilize tech tools
There are many tools available to allow for face-to-face meetings, throughout-the-day online chatting, project management, file sharing and more. Have a weekly team face-to-face meeting with a Zoom video chat. Remote employees cannot visit by the coffee pot or water cooler, so let your employees connect and keep communicating throughout the day with Slack. Encourage client meetings via Skype. As with any technology, set clear expectations for the use of each tool. If you expect a team member to be logged into a certain tool for a number of hours each day, communicate that. Make space in your schedule for employee downtime (like chatting on Slack). When used correctly, a combination of tools like these will keep your business headed in the right direction.
The personal touch
It is important to set up and communicate tools and processes that encourage communication and allow for feedback. And with remote workers, it is especially important to encourage face-to-face communication, even if that is on a weekly Zoom call. Take the time to learn about your employees. Communicate business needs, but also take time to learn about personal lives. Ask team members to share their “best business” and “best personal” moments during a weekly “all hands on deck” call. Demonstrate that you care about what’s going on with each team member.
The changing role of HR
In a remote work setting, the role of HR is more important than ever. Close examination of confidentiality policies, employee relations, promotion eligibility and more are imperative. There must be clear definitions of roles, responsibilities, reporting and performance. More than ever, security must be considered. Passwords, logins, data backup, company computers…policies must be in place for everything. And periodic employee pulse surveys, employee reviews of processes and other communications are critical. But in a remote work setting, HR may also be more responsible for providing access to technology solutions like Basecamp and Zoom to ensure company success. No longer just an IT function, technology access in a remote work setting is a big part of the employee experience. Today’s workers expect companies to have plans and processes in place and feature a corporate culture and fosters remote working and work/life balance.
Whether you have one campus with a few remote workers, a complete organization of remote workers or something in between, it is possible to have a remote team and be confident that you can work together with great success. With careful planning and scrupulous attention to details and processes, your company may enjoy even greater than expected returns by harnessing the unique power of a remote workforce.