Today’s digital age has made it easier than ever for remote work to become the norm for employees. In fact, according to a study by Gallup, 43% of employees work remotely some of the time or from home all the time. Remote work isn’t just convenient—it can also have a positive impact on employee productivity, engagement, and retention while reducing operational costs and commuting expenses. The benefits of remote work extend beyond individuals; organizations that support teleworkers are able to reduce their real estate footprint and improve retention among team members who do not want to commute long distances every day. With this in mind, you may be wondering how you can build a remote work culture that will boost your company’s bottom line.
Define clear goals and guidelines for remote work
If you are considering allowing remote work, the first step is to define the goals for allowing this option, and understand whom it will be best for. Remote work might be a great solution for employees who consistently work beyond normal business hours, have long commutes, or have family obligations that make it difficult to be in the office during work hours. In addition, if your organization is operating in a field in which employees must meet with clients or customers in person, it may not be a good fit. Once you define goals and understand how remote work can help your organization, you need to set up guidelines to make sure employees understand the expectations. Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to establish guidelines around topics such as when employees are expected to be online; how often they are expected to communicate with colleagues; and what type of communication tools they will use.
Establish an open communication channel
If you have enabled remote work for your company, you need to make sure that you have an open communication channel between co-workers. Employees need to be able to ask questions and share information freely, regardless of whether they are in the office or working from home. By default, communication channels that are closed or require employees to request access will make it difficult for remote workers to reach out to colleagues. It’s also important to make sure that communication channels are secure, so that team members can communicate privately. This can be challenging, as communication channels will often have security risks. To make sure that remote workers are able to communicate effectively, you may want to look for communication platforms that offer encrypted communications.
Hold regular meetings for all employees, remote or not
While some companies may hold weekly stand-up meetings for employees who are in the same office, many organizations overlook this key meeting for employees who work remotely. This meeting can serve several purposes, including helping remote workers stay connected to colleagues and providing an opportunity for managers to ask questions and collect feedback from team members. While the format of this meeting can vary from organization to organization, certain elements are essential. Remote workers need to know who their manager is and have a clear understanding of their role in the organization.
Provide tools to help employees collaborate and communicate effectively
Depending on the types of work your organization does, you may be able to get by with basic communication tools. However, if your organization is involved in complex projects, you may want to consider having employees use a software tool designed to increase collaboration and engagement. Some organizations even require employees to sign a virtual collaboration contract when they start working remotely. This contract is a written document that outlines the expectations and obligations of both the employee and the organization. While virtual collaboration contracts may seem excessive, they can be an effective way to help remote workers understand how they can contribute to the organization while working remotely.
Offer cultural training for remote workers
When employees work remotely, they are not in the office to see the cultural cues that let them know how to behave in the organization. Remote workers need to understand your organization’s values and norms so that they can make appropriate decisions, even when managers aren’t nearby to provide guidance. To make sure that remote workers understand your organization’s culture, provide training that covers company values, norms, and ethics. This training should be available to remote workers just as it is to people who work in the office.
Remote work can be an effective way to boost employee productivity while cutting costs. To make sure that remote work is a win for your organization, make sure that you’ve clearly defined goals for allowing remote work and have open lines of communication among team members, both in person and remotely. Additionally, provide tools to help remote workers collaborate and communicate effectively, and offer cultural training to help remote workers understand your organization’s values and norms.