Working remotely has its benefits, and its disadvantages but don’t be disheartened as these can be overcome!
Given the huge amount of technology available today, it’s never been easier to work remotely, and your business won’t be alone as Covid-19 means that mandatory-work-at-home policies have been implemented by companies across the globe including Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Spotify and Amazon.
In these uncertain times it’s not only Covid-19 that may force your hand – office premises are becoming increasingly expensive to rent, parking spaces are at a premium, and with everyone trying to become greener, working remotely makes sense.
However, what if your business has never needed to have employees work remotely?
1. First, you must set your team up with the capabilities of being able to keep in touch with you and each other. Computers, webcams and microphones and the functionality of video conferencing such as Zoom or Skype make keeping in touch easy, and apps such as Slack keep the chat going when video calling isn’t required.
Video conferencing can be used to have a daily catch up with the entire team at the start of the day or catch ups during the day just as you would do in an office environment albeit with a virtual coffee.
2. You may need to provide employees with a home desk and office chair so they have somewhere to call their “workspace” even if it is just a corner in their living room or spare room as this will enable them to detach from the work environment at the end of their working day and also considers ergonomic needs – sitting on those rickety old dining room chairs for any length of time other than for dinner really will not help anyone’s back and neck.
3. Although a study by Cardiff University showed that almost three-quarters of employees ‘put in more effort’ when working from home and will often work longer until a task is complete, it’s important to encourage employees to switch off their work computer at the end of the working day as the same study showed that 44% of remote employees said they found it difficult to relax and unwind after work.
Striking that work-life balance can be tricky, but there are things you can do to help. Encouraging employees to “dress for work” rather than staying in their PJs can help get them in the right frame of mind for work, and even more so if they need to work from their bedroom or sofa as not everyone has the luxury of a home office to shut the door on.
4. It’s important that you consider the mental wellbeing of your team as deflated moods can arise fairly quickly for those not used to working remotely. Consider those who live alone who may depend on the buzz of the office environment to keep loneliness at bay, or those who may find it difficult to switch between parent and employee roles when they’re working from home.
Finding out how your employees feel will enable you to spot those who may need a bit of a lift or a suggestion how to cope mentally with change. There will always be some that will absolutely thrive on working remotely – channel their enthusiasm and ideas to help their colleagues that are less keen.
5. As a Manager you may need to step up to the plate by starting video calling, trusting that everyone is getting on and doing the job without them feeling like they’re under surveillance and by asking them how they feel regularly.
Bearing all these things in mind, and by continuing to praise a job well done, you and your team can remain a cohesive unit despite your varying locations.