( by Corinna Underwood )
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies throughout the United States have been forced to allow many of their employees to work fully remotely. This has been mainly to protect the health of the workforce and also to enable businesses to function as much as possible through this crisis.
In the current economic climate, many companies are considering making a permanent shift to remote work. Businesses, inspired by some major companies, are beginning to rethink the work experience and what it will mean for their employees.
The Advantages of a Remote Workforce for Your Company
Allowing employees to work from home permanently has several advantages for you as a business owner. These include:
Improved employee retention: Losing valued employees can cost your company valuable time and money, particularly if you’re running a small business. The flexibility of home working can allow employees to balance their home and work commitments more efficiently, a factor that plays a vital role in employee retention.
Increased productivity: 76% of remote workers claim that they are more productive when they are working from home. Often this is because they are not in a loud, distracting environment. And as you know, increased productivity means increased profitability.
Reduced overheads: It’s an obvious point, but office space is expensive even though you can claim some of the cost back on your capital allowance. When you allow employees to work remotely, this can dramatically reduce the amount of office space you need, thus cutting your overheads.
Is Your Company Ready for Remote Work?
Even though many of your employees may have been working remotely for the past several months, it is still going to take a certain period of transition for them to shift to permanent remote work. Here are some thoughts to consider, to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
1. Weigh up the pros and cons: One important factor to consider is the cost of remote work versus onsite labor. Bear in mind that although you may be saving money on things like office space, you may have to spend more on upgrading your technology and supporting regular in-person meetings.
2. Analyze critical roles and attributes: If you are taking permanent remote work seriously, it’s time to let go of existing roles and models. Replace them with new ideas about responsibilities and prioritize key tasks.
Also, think about the future needs of your company and how you can allocate tasks to remote workers. This may be a good time to be more flexible with the limits of certain staff members’ roles and allow more fluid levels of responsibility.
3. Reorganize your strategy: Many positions within your company may not currently be ideally set up for remote work. It can be tricky for managers and employees to get used to switching from face-to-face interaction to scheduled online communication. However, there are steps you can take to overcome these challenges, such as:
Organize regular group online meetings: This will ensure that remote employees don’t feel that they’re out on a limb without any link to the company.
Maintain a clear flow of communication: Don’t leave anyone out of the loop. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on, and provide regular updates.
Make sure everyone is using the same programs and tools: For example, when your team is having an online meeting, you should all be using Skype or Zoom, not some, one and some the other.
Set an acceptable time limit for a response: Employees should be aware that if you contact them and require a response, they are committed to reply within a certain designated time.
Follow a clear workflow: Online tools such as Asana or Trello can ensure that employees can track their projects, keeping everyone on the same page.
Coordinate in-person meetings: Organize a group meeting at least every six months so that you and your team can spend some quality time together. Don’t make it a business meeting, make it a company dinner or retreat.
Keep coordination between remote employees to a minimum: A certain amount of interdependent work between remote employees is inevitable. When this is necessary, you must organize it so that those team members who are involved in the same project, stay on the same schedule so that other team members are not waiting around to complete their work.
If you think that remote work is something that you would like for your company in the long term, take some time to consider what you want to get out of it for your company and your employees. Think about how it will impact your employees and discuss it with them to see how they feel.