If 2020 has taught us anything, it has proven that you don’t need to be in an office from Monday-Friday during the hours of 9am-5pm to be a productive employee or continue being a successful business.
The old notions that people who work from home are “lazy” or “can’t make it to an office on time” have been smashed. There is nothing to suggest that WFH is a fad that will disappear once life goes back to “COVID-Normal”.
Business as Usual
Most organisations are adapting to this new workstyle and there are several benefits for both employer and employee; less overheads such as rent or utilities, a healthier work/life balance and a lot less commuting.
If you and your team have adapted well to working remotely, then there is no reason as to why you can’t make it a long-term scenario.
To ensure everyone is working at full capacity, there are a range of processes leaders and their staff can put in place.
Communication is Key
“We need to talk” – four little words no one wants to hear from their boss (nor significant other!). Communication is simply a part of everyday life; from ordering a cup of coffee at your local café, to staff performance reviews, and the seemingly never-ending toilet seat up/down debate.
Effective communication can build relationships, strengthens team bonds and can be the starting block of finding the root cause of internal concerns. Discussing certain topics makes us feel uncomfortable – avoiding confrontation, segregating ourselves and not wanting to pry into co-worker’s private lives are natural human traits.
However, now more than ever, we need to start becoming more comfortable having the often-uncomfortable conversations. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, communication and strong leadership is integral.
How many times have you walked into work on a Monday morning and been asked: “how was your weekend?”, and your reply was “good thanks, yours?”. Not exactly a riveting or thought-provoking conversation, is it?
Even the strongest of wills have been tested during 2020, and this is why we need to make sure there are direct lines of communication, and an open forum, for our remote team members to express themselves.
They way in which we communicate, and our topics of conversation drive a culture and can create a notion of belonging in your workplace or social group. We need to start building deeper and more meaningful connections through conversations which bind us through our subconscious on a deeper and more trusting level.
This is where our Emotional Intelligence on a leadership level can determine how well we are emotionally engaging our colleagues, which can ultimately lead to more effective and efficient workers, whilst also creating more meaningful relationships with the people we spend the most time with.
Even though our colleagues are far away, it doesn’t mean we can’t find time to connect and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
This one is obvious, but if you are working remotely, you need to ensure the team’s home office is just as technically sound as their usual business office space. This means having the hardware basics such as laptops, dual-screens, headsets and even portable standing desk solutions.
From a software perspective, look at investing in a CRM or ATS so your staff have a single source of truth when it comes to information & data storage. Some other essentials should include well-known and trusted video-conference software (i.e. MS Teams, ZOOM, Skype).
A left-of-centre option is the way in which you manage your telecommunications. Since you aren’t working at an office-base your landline may be unattended; instead of just diverting the phone to another phone, do some research into a cloud-based phone system that can essentially turn your team’s laptops into virtual landlines. These solutions also have mobile apps, so you can take calls on the go.
Investing in technology is also important if you are wanting to onboard new staff members successfully. From someone who was personally onboarded remotely with a new company during 2020, a strong IT infrastructure will enable seamless automation – its just like training in person!
Make if Fun
Socially, many of the extra-curricular activities we have been so used to prior to this year have been taken away. No more conferences, off-site training courses, or even Friday knock-off catchups.
Even though we can’t do a lot of these things in person anymore, why can’t we take it digital?
Working in recruitment, I have had the pleasure of working with some great companies who place a huge emphasis on the wellbeing of their people. To keep their staff engaged and to assist with increasing wellness, here are some examples of what some other companies are offering:
Trivia & Quiz Nights
Virtual Friday Drinks
Online Cooking Classes
These examples are cost effective, fun, and won’t go unnoticed by the team – try something new and create an everlasting talking point that your staff won’t forget in a hurry.
Here to Stay?
If you and your team are currently working remotely to a good standard, implementing some of these strategies may mean that remote working could be in your long-term business plans.
Remember that communication and engagement is key, along with finding the balance between work productivity and employee wellness.
If it’s working for everyone in your business, there is no reason why this practice can’t hang around for a while longer.