Remote working is slowly overtaking the way organizations are operating their businesses. The amount of people working at home has reached an all-time high. With 1 in 4 Americans working from home, business leaders must take the time to evaluate their operations and improve the structure of their organization. Managers need to step up and make sure that their remote employees are capable of settling into this lifestyle for the long run.
While businesses are slowly starting to open up with the pandemic slowing down, there is still a good percentage of people who will be interested in working remotely. A recent FlexJob survey revealed that 65% of respondents were interested in remaining full-time remote employees post-pandemic, while 31% of those were interested in hybrid remote work environments.
UpWork has also published a study that says 41.8% of the American workforce shall continue to work remotely. However, an estimated 26.7% will continue to work from home through 2021.
Statistics like these put things into perspective, and business leaders need to ensure they are implementing the best possible remote working practices. That is why for this post, we are going to share with you some of our most favorite remote working tips for 2021.
Set up a workspace
Working from home means being able to set up your equipment to start the daily grind. Any remote worker needs to have a place where they feel comfortable and productive when working from home. While it may seem like an excellent idea to sit on the couch with your feet resting on the table, it can become uncomfortable after a while. Remote employees need to find an area in their household where their computer, documents, and supplies they need can be readily prepared, even when they are not working.
It should be a quiet space, with minimal amounts of noise flowing in the room and no other distractions like the TV. If you have chosen a room with a door, then you have managed to hit the jackpot since it allows you to close yourself away and prevent distractions. If that is not possible, merely find a spot where you can receive a minimal amount of distraction.
Setting up a home office space does not require a remote worker to spend an exuberant amount of money. It essentially needs to be a place where the worker can preserve their sanity by separating home life and work. Productivity is boosted when having a home workspace organized and keeps everything in a single place.
Setting up a communication plan
When it comes to working in an in-office environment, all it takes for an employee to have one of their questions answered is merely walking a few steps to their colleague’s workspace. When it comes remotely, that opportunity becomes impossible. Including the fact that plenty of remote teams are working in varying time zones, and it is no surprise that communication becomes a challenging issue for most organizations. A survey from Buffer discovered that most companies consider communication to be one of the more difficult parts of remote working.
To improve communication efforts in a remote working environment, managers need to specify which communication channels to use, schedule regular meetings, and conduct check-ins to ensure everyone remains in the loop and is on the same page. Offering your team clarity on who they can contact for moments of emergency will also set them at ease.
Furthermore, business leaders need to ensure that their communication strategies are not entirely focused on getting work completed. They need to leave some time aside for non-work-related activities. To improve communication among your remote team members, allow for some time where they can play some virtual games, coffee breaks, share lunch, or viewing parties. These activities will not only foster team spirit but also keep them engaged and improve communication.
Establish working schedule
Creating a structure encourages not only you but your remote employees to complete their work on time. Consider how office hours operate if everyone should set up a schedule that reminds them when they have a set amount of time to finish their work. That ensures they remain motivated and get their task done efficiently. The idea of having to work against a deadline will keep them on their toes. Additionally, work schedules help employees balance out the work-life.
Since they are working from home, the temptation of getting household chores done, going to the kitchen, or relaxing on the couch to watch some shows lingers in the air. These distractions could cause them to lose time when they work from home. That is why it’s crucial for everyone on the team to set up a schedule. There are tons of virtual calendars that a team can use to set aside a schedule and track every work, meeting, and appointment.
Task management software and productivity apps exist and can be easily implemented to ensure everyone getting their work done on time.
Streamline your tools
While it is essential to have the best software available, you need to make sure not to use too many of them. If your remote team's interaction is scattered throughout various platforms, it is much easier for information to be lost and deadlines fall off track. Furthermore, having your team attempt to adjust to a whole new platform can be daunting.
Take the time to see if your current software setup is working for you and the team. If you have too many tools being used to get your work done, try to lower them to only a few tools. That should save your remote workers time and improve the workflow. To deal with this issue, take some time to outline your current set of tools. Then reach out to your remote employees and ask them for their input so you can cut off any redundancies. If you pull this off correctly, your workflow will be much smoother.
Arrange social support
One of the many issues that business leaders face is their remote employees feeling isolated and alone. Without setting aside some time for social interaction, loneliness and isolation will start to settle in, leading to a severe drop in productivity and efficiency. If managers leave these issues unattended, it can place a person's mental health at risk and cause them to leave the company.
This is why business leaders need to take this development seriously within their remote working environment. It is up to them to start encouraging social connections among remote staff members.
Take the time to set up dedicated channels where everyone can casually talk about anything they want, such as pets, hobbies, shows, and more. It should become your team's virtual water cooler and let them relax for a few minutes. Managers should also host some virtual games or competitions that your remote team can participate in through video calls like Zoom. There are tons of games that can be played online, such as charades, bingo, and so forth.
Instead of immediately starting your meetings with that day's program, take a few minutes of that meeting to interact with everyone and conduct some icebreaker activities. That should help ease your worker's mind and prepare for the rest of the day. It is also vital to provide some one-on-one interaction through virtual meetings either through Slack or Zoom. That way, employees can feel as if they belong. Lastly, take some time to celebrate any success and recognize achievements well done in chat channels, video meetings, and check-ins.
Captioning Zoom meetings
Zoom has increasingly become a critical source of information for many remote workers. The daily calls and weekly meetings have tons of information passing along. It is one of the many reasons why your remote workers must have access to these meetings. Live captioning makes these far more accessible for anyone hard of hearing. Plus, including live captions to your Zoom meetings increase engagement among the team.
If your remote employees are capable of retaining the information you provided, they will not have to waste time reaching out to others for clarification later on. Additionally, they will not make a mistake that needs to be fixed later on. Best of all, live captioning the Zoom meeting ensures work gets completed at a quicker pace and higher quality. It also allows you to share these videos with team members who may have missed out on the meeting and get them up to speed.
While having an open schedule is crucial, do not fall into a rut of developing overly inflexible plans. A sizable amount of your employees are most likely dealing with taking care of children while being at home full-time. For some cases, it could be that they live in a different time zone.
Super late hours and wailing children can make it hard for remote employees to get into a property working zone. Offering your remote employees flexibility allows them to perform their tasks in more ideal conditions and leads to a greater standard of work.
Every one of these tips we have placed here has become a favorite of ours over the past year. It is some excellent tips that any business leader should be aware of when it comes to remote working. If you have not used any of these tips to improve your remote working environment, consider doing so soon. If not, you may miss out on an excellent opportunity to enhance your remote team's productivity.