By Rosana Beechum, freelance writer.
There are so many reasons why it makes sense for businesses to go remote. There has been a huge amount of uncertainty over the last few years, and the flexibility that hybrid and remote working provides has been invaluable to companies and employees.
However, that’s not to say that it is a seamless shift from one to the other. The shift to hybrid and fully remote models poses key considerations around policies, culture, training, communication, and tools that are critical for smooth operational transitions that maintain productivity without disconnecting employees.
Here is essential guidance for businesses embracing telecommuting:
Assign Remote Work Leads
You’re going to need some people on point for the transition. Appoint dedicated cross-functional leads responsible for devising remote strategies and support programmes focused on championing inclusive culture, refining policies as needed, selecting appropriate collaboration tools, and resolving unique issues emerging for distributed teams. Don’t make it an afterthought.
Outline Working Hours And Communication Norms
Prevent confusion by establishing expected core hours, meeting etiquette, email/chat response times and channels like Slack suitable for various types of communications across the organisation. A lot of people prefer the flexible working hours that are provided by remote and hybrid working, but you need to make sure that you know what everyone’s doing. It is particularly important to avoid messaging outside of work hours. Not overloading inboxes reduces frustration and allows people to respect work-life balance.
Enable Both Synchronous And Asynchronous Collaboration
You can make sure that everyone stays on the same page through regular touchpoints like daily stand-ups while also providing tools facilitating productivity for people collaborating across time zones or different peak hours. Wikis, shared drives, and project management platforms empower your team to keep up with each other while working apart alongside real-time meetings.
Replicate Your Office Digitally
You can use cloud portals to create digital replicas of physical spaces teams use to access company information and resources like reception welcome packs for new joiners or kitchen notice boards posting internal news updates. Ensure remote workers remain equally informed.
Establish Modern Security Practices And Tools
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest priorities for all businesses right now. It seems like barely a week goes by without a new cybercrime attack. Support secure access through multi-factor logins, endpoint monitoring and protection against threats like phishing critical with more devices and home networks touching networks. Implement tools like password managers so employees can operate remotely to uphold safety. Maintain vigilance.
Show Your Employees Time-Saving Document Tools
Upgrade underused legacy software bogging down workflows for staff adapting home offices. Provide intuitive, integrated tools like document markup, e-signatures, online whiteboards, and team editing capabilities in collaborative web-based platforms speeding group progress. Working remotely can mean that people feel less confident asking for help with simple tasks like converting PDF to Word. Direct them to software tools that will save them time and stress.
Spotlight Company Culture In New Ways
Without bumping into peers at the coffee machine, finding engaging online initiatives for employees to mingle and bond ensures everyone feels connected, valued and part of something bigger. Shared games, virtual volunteering for charities or gym sessions generate culture remotely.
Set Guidelines Around Hybrid Meetings
For groups with some on-site and off-site attendees, provide suggested hybrid meeting protocols ensuring those dialling in follow discussions adequately and participate equitably. Outline preferences on tools, microphone usage, presentation expectations and post-meeting summaries where useful.
Showcase User-Friendly Video Conferencing
Curate streamlined, unintimidating onboarding resources introducing employees holistically to business-grade video tools like Teams, Zoom and WebEx supporting key functions from wireless presentations to collaborative whiteboards during calls. Build video confidence remotely.
Address Ergonomic Needs For Home Offices
Help set staff up ergonomically by offering workers guides on desk setup, wrist rests, quality chairs, monitor heights and other remote workspace considerations influencing physical health, safety, and efficiency. Consider limited work site allowances offsetting personal costs too.
Create Digital Water Cooler Moments
Use online social channels like Slack threads unrelated to work for links, jokes or community connections so casual conversations persist despite dispersed geography. Maintain spaces welcoming casual chatter and comments supporting camaraderie. Human moments matter.
Train Managers On Leading Remote Teams
Guide people managers on maintaining team cohesion, preventing isolation, spotting mental health struggles sooner and providing ongoing career support/mentorship virtually for employees they may interact with less frequently. Remote management fundamentals safeguard engagement.
Develop Engaging Onboarding Plans For Remote Hires
Enable new workers to absorb company culture with welcome packages sent ahead, one-on-one video introductions to the teams and early online social activities allowing them to mingle virtually right away. Make newcomers feel immersed quicker through savvy online onboarding.
Provide Relevant Learning Opportunities
Expand access to online development resources workers can self-direct across critical digital capabilities like cybersecurity consciousness, collaboration tools certifications, time management or home office ergonomics supporting effectiveness in hybrid or permanent telecommuting arrangements.
Define Success Metrics And Planning Cycles
Adapting operating models requires rethinking what performance indicators best reflect productivity like output and efficiency rather than physical presence. Refine individual/team OKRs and planning frameworks accordingly. Maintain accountability through clear measurable goal setting.
Invest In Relationship Building
Without in-person interactions, leaders should prioritise rapport building through one-on-one video check-ins, and virtual trivia hours adding fun and remembering details that spark human connections. Continue cultivating trust and interpersonal bonds remotely.
Normalise Camera Usage
Enable teams to interact comfortably on video calls to reinforce bonds and engagement. Make seeing faces feel routine through leaders consistently keeping cameras on and encouraging teams to do the same through consent-based norms that still respect privacy choices when preferred.
Send Out Regular Company Surveys
Solicit anonymous feedback through pulse surveys asking how employees are coping with remote work life, obstacles faced and suggestions on improvements to policy, technology access or social connections needed. Listen attentively, communicate enhancements undertaken and continue fine-tuning support.
Getting remote work models right relies on addressing human factors around trust, relationships, inclusion, and support alongside technology tools enabling seamless collaboration. Providing choices, guidance and community while eliminating friction in workflows allows productivity to flourish anywhere while enhancing employee satisfaction through location liberty.