Some may say that there has been a long-overdue shift towards remote working and work flexibility, but no one would have guessed that we would be flung into a grand scale remote work trial run due to a pandemic. Matt Mullenweg, the Chief Executive of WordPress and Tumblr, said that “millions of people will get the chance to experience days without long commutes, or the harsh inflexibility of not being able to stay close to home when a family member is sick… This might be a chance for a great reset in the terms of how we work.” What we will learn in the next few months could change the future of work and pave a path to make remote work the new norm.
We will explore:
- The benefits of remote work for Employees
- The benefits of remote work for Employers
- Concerns or Challenges Employees
- Concerns or Challenges Employers
- Tools to make Remote Working easier for your business
- Tips for your workers
- How to create a Working For Home (WFH) policy for your company
The benefits of remote work for employees
Better Health and Wellness:
- Remote workers are notably less stressed and have higher morale than their in-office counterparts. The Royal Society for Public Health (UK) published a report which found that 55% of participants are more stressed as a result of their commute. Working from home not only takes away this stress off your employees but it also saves them time and money they would have to spend coming into the office.
- Employees are able to set their own schedule (depending on your WFH policy), so they are able to work whenever they are most productive and/or creative.
- Remote work also allows for parents to start work earlier so that they can be more present when their children get home from school.
- Remote work can be seen as a reward for their excellent work and they are stimulated to continue to surpass their employer’s expectations in order to continue living the lifestyle that they have.
Save time and money:
- Employees get to save the time that they would have spent in traffic or in transit as part of their daily commute.
- An Appello employee, Jake, 25, who works in project design and strategy, told The New Daily that the best part of his Remote Work arrangement was not having to commute to an office. “I can spend that time to improve my quality of life – and, if I was going into the city, I’d be spending money on buses.” He also stated that “in Australia, it’s easy to rack up $50 a week in public transport expenses and for a lot of people, that’s not a trivial amount of money – and it’s definitely not a trivial amount of time either.”
The benefits of remote work for employers
- According to the State of Work Productivity Report, 65% of full-time employees think a remote work schedule would increase productivity. This is backed up by more than two-thirds of managers reporting an increase in overall productivity from their remote employees.
- In a study by PGi, a leading provider of software services, it found that 80% of remote workers reported higher morale, 82% said it helped lower their stress levels, and 69% reported lower absenteeism.
- As workers were happier and less stressed, they felt more engaged and focus within the role, and didn’t feel the need to skip work unless it was really dire.
- Essentially, Happier, healthier employees produce better work and feel more committed to their companies.
Company saves money:
- FlexJobs reported that employers can save $22,000 per remote worker per year, even if their entire team isn’t remote.
- If a team is fully-distributed companies can see decreased overheads. Costs will decrease in like rent and office furniture. Other costs that can be avoided or reduced include office supplies, furniture, equipment, coffee and hygiene services.
- A Softchoice study found that nearly 3 out of 4 workers would leave their current job for one offering remote work.
- A study conducted by Staples Advantage, found that 76% of telecommuters were willing to work overtime and felt more loyal to their company with the option of remote work. In addition 80% reported a better work/life balance.
- Not only is it extremely attractive to millennial workers, but Stanford University reported that they found that job attrition rates fell by over 50 percent when employees had the option for remote working arrangements.
Concerns and Challenges Employees
Those who are working remotely can overcome these three challenges by using online tools and experimenting with new daily habits.
- Try incorporating collaborative platforms such as Slack, Trello, or Google Drive into your work day. These tools offer transparency about your work activity without much additional effort.
- Consider viewing your day as a series of goals, not a block of eight hours. Apps such as Harvest and Focus Booster can be useful to keep track of your time. Using these tools, you can see which tasks take you longer to complete compared to others.
- Stick to a set schedule / times to start and finish work.
Concerns and Challenges Employers
Miscommunication and loneliness are two of the main challenges that’ll be faced.
One point that has been made over and over again by Professors and Management consultants, is that employers need to be extremely clear about performance and what is expected of them, what they should achieve. Be output focused, not processed focused as it gives the employees explicit expectations. Communication is key.
As a manager you should think about the following:
- What do we really want you to do this week?
- How are we going to see that?
- How are we going to check in and how often are we going to communicate?
Last year, a study of 2,500 remote workers conducted by Buffer found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge and one that was experienced by 19% of respondents. Loneliness can make people feel less motivated and less productive.
“Out of sight, out of mind can be a real problem for remote workers,” says Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. “The very best remote workers will reach out to coworkers and managers regularly” through a variety of tools.
Tools to make Remote Working easier for your business
Remote Desktop Apps
Keeps all your visual assets that are on your office computer on your home computer or laptop.
- Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDC) / Apple Remote Desktop (ARD)
Instant messaging platforms that are work based related and not social media.
- Microsoft Teams
Apps that are great for video conferences and meetings.
- Google Hangouts
- Skype for Business
For a more detailed guide on the essential tools remote workers can use to connect and collaborate, click here
Tips for your workers
Bond University associate professor of organisational behaviour Libby Sander offered the following tips to individual workers:
- “The first thing is set up a designated working space. Try and set up a desk somewhere. Don’t try and work at the kitchen table [because] if you have visual reminders in your home of working when you’re ‘off’ it is completely draining. Set up a space that’s not visually reminding you of work. If you can close a door and leave it, that’s great
- “Make sure you have the technology you need – laptop, tablet, phone. Make sure you schedule in regular meetings (via Skype etc) with your workplace. We have to be almost over-vigilant with connecting so we’re not getting distracted. Set your head to be, ‘I’m at work now’. Don’t just think, I’ll go do some washing
- “Have strong boundaries, because 48 per cent of people who work from home work longer hours. Make sure that you switch off when you finish work. Talk with your employer about what you have to achieve by a certain time and work to that. Switch off your work emails on your phone.”
Other tips for Success are:
- Structure Your Day
- The better your plan for the day, the less likely you’ll be to get distracted and the more likely you’ll be to achieve your goals. Set a good clear plan for each day, breaking down each hour and each activity.
- Keep In Touch With Your Colleagues And Managers
- Take Regular Breaks & Try To Go For A Walk
- Set Ground Rules With People Who Share Your Home
- You don’t want to have people constantly interrupting you or distracting you when you are trying to work.
- If you need to make calls or do video meetings, make sure everyone knows to give you space to do. If you need to concentrate on work make sure everyone else around understands that and appreciates that.
- Create a dedicated office space
- Look at your ergonomics, working from the couch won’t do your body any favours.
- Surround yourself with positivity
- Pandemics can make people anxious and fearful, try to make your environment as positive as you can.
How to create a Working For Home (WFH) policy for your company
Best Practices When Creating a Work from Home Program
Businesses looking to introduce a work from home program should create specific guidelines to ensure all employees understand what is required from them when they work remotely. The key elements of work from home policy, which should be shared with the entire staff, include:
Making sure everyone has access to the proper technology: Computer, email, phone conferencing, access to internal networks are all tools that employees need, whether they work from home or a public location.
Making sure everyone is using a secure connection: Remote workers should have a secured Wi-Fi network and work with a trusted virtual private network (VPN). The VPN serves as a buffer between the Wi-Fi connection and your mobile device or laptop. Any transmitted data is then encrypted to protect it from tampering and interception.
Implementing communications programs: At times, remote workers can feel lonely isolated from the rest of the team, so it is important to keep in contact with them via your Remote Working Tools. Make sure everyone is aware of how they are to communicate and how often they should be checking in.
Setting clear expectations in your work from home policy: Create a work from home policy with your specific expectations of the employee. The policy would include:
- Instructions for an employee’s daily work schedule
- Your company’s overtime policy
- Description of a dedicated workspace – this is important as many home work spaces are ergonomically unfriendly or awkward.
- Instructions for reporting personal injury and damage to company equipment
- Protection of proprietary company information – working from home can pose a cybersecurity risk. If an employee is not using a secured Wi-Fi or VPN, their computer could be open to a cyber-attack.
Lastly one of the most crucial elements of a work from home policy isn’t included in the actual document. Employers need to have trust in their employees to get their jobs done when they are working from home and not onsite.
We have scoured the web for resources that might be helpful for you and collated them for you: