In light of recent global events, it seems appropriate to review the concept of working from home. Many companies are now, for the first time ever, seriously considering the implications of managing their team from afar and considering all the factors that remote working involves.
From figuring out how to stay in touch with team members and holding meetings over Skype to managing your own anxieties around your employee’s dedication to their work.
Many employers have worries that, if left to their own devices, their employees will be distracted at home and overall productivity will be greatly reduced. Here’s some good news: many studies show that this isn’t the case at all! As technology and internet access has improved, so has remote work productivity. And more often, companies are embracing this modern way of working.
Studies have shown that when employers allow some workers the ability to work from home, the productivity and retention of those workers increased. The flexibility given to those workers allow them more time to manage their lives effectively. The time that these workers would have spent communing or ideally chatting to coworkers is now being spent more effectively.
Remote workers also have more time to manage their personal wellbeing and put their full attention into their tasks without the usual office related distractions. They’re able to work without distraction and have a much easier time working on their own health and stress levels.
Naturally, one size does not fit all.
When there isn’t a global pandemic threatening everyone’s livelihoods, remote working is only really effective in very specific corporate environments. Those who work and communicate mostly online will benefit from remote office spaces a lot more than those who need a more hands-on environment to function. Many workers also prefer to work in an office, away from their distracting families and surrounded by colleagues they can consult with at a moment’s notice.
So how can we effectively work from home?
It’s business as usual. Work needs to continue as normal as much as possible. Workflows must be maintained. Active, continuous communication needs to be encouraged every step of the way.
Software can help. Thankfully, there are many different apps, programs and plugins to assist with ever aspect of remote working. Need to communicate or hold virtual meetings to your team? Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and even the basics like WhatsApp and Outlook are great for team discussion. As long as everyone is committed to open lines of dialog, it doesn’t really matter which software you choose.
There are also full package programs that allow teams to communicate and collaborate remotely. One you’ve made sure everyone has a stable internet connection; many tools can be used to facilitate collaboration. These include the popular choices like Trello and Slack but it’s almost always worth the time taken to research the correct file-sharing, workflow-managing software that will work best for your company’s specific needs. The choices available to you are as varied as they are useful.
For employees working from home for the first time, this can be a jarring, isolating experience. It’s important for team leaders and company exco to maintain open communication and try as much as they can to keep moral high. Check up on your remote workers, keep them informed and let them know they’re valued and remembered. Encourage friendly, casual communication after hours and try to have fun with your team members. Understand that the more effort you put into communication, the better chance you have of avoiding uncomfortable and unproductive feelings of stress from isolation.