When the professional sector was hit by the pandemic, the biggest losses were not only from businesses that relied heavily on physical interaction, but also businesses that could have continued functioning with remote employees, but failed to implement any technology or processes that would allow them to do so. So how can your business apply remote working tools in order to maintain sustainability throughout these uncertain times? We look at some of the key points and methods to ensure remote work for your teams are a success.
When COVID-19 shut down physical offices and different places of work, we quickly learned that there are many things that would hinder us in the sphere of remote working. Harvard Business Review says that “it is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance”, so that in times of crisis your business would be well-prepared to move online. One of the first mistakes many companies made was not experimenting with remote work and training their employees on best practices to do so.
So when businesses were forced to go online, they discovered that the relationships between managers and employees became strained. A study done by Harvard Business Review found that without physical interactions, “supervisors worry that employees will not work as hard or as efficiently” while on the other hand, “many employees… struggle with reduced access to managerial support and communication”. Recruiting platform PowerToFly tells us that “being transparent about what you’re working on helps everyone know where they stand, prevents overlaps and miscommunications, and allows managers to make quick agenda fixes”.
Another challenge that HBR notes with remote work is a “lack of access to information”. Nikolas Papanotas, founder and CEO of Geekbot, is an advocate of “overcommunication”. His own team uses a combination of 5 platforms for task management and project statuses, which eliminates communication breakdowns and builds trust across the team. Platforms like Herd HR can also help your teams to track attendance, manage rosters, and store vital employee information – making it easier for managers and employees alike to coordinate working with each other.
Both HBR and Highfive, creators of a web conferencing software used by many remote workers, suggest providing “several different communication technology options” when it comes to remote work. By giving your team “multiple points of contact”, they’ll be able to reach out between each other and clients through different mediums for quicker results. Additionally, employees will benefit from having more advanced tools such as video conferencing, to take “visual cues… like they would have if they were face-to-face”.
Aside from that, HBR also notes that “it is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ anxieties and concerns, and empathize with their struggles”. Previously, employees and managers alike had a dedicated working space for business to be conducted, but remote working from home throws in a combination of personal routines and family life. HBR states that “employees look to their managers for cues about how to react to sudden changes or crisis situations”, so it is important for effective leaders to “take a two-pronged approach… acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling in difficult circumstances, but also providing affirmation of their confidence in their teams”.
Another interesting factor highlighted by PowerToFly in regards to remote work is that “One of the advantages to staffing remotely is that the sun never sets on your company”. If yours is a business that spans across different countries or regions, work can continue twenty-four hours a day. And with innovative employee time tracking software available in this day and age, like that of Herd HR’s, all of your staff’s working hours can be easily aligned and recorded.
So when it comes to navigating remote work for your company, it’s important to know what has succeeded in other businesses and what has failed. By making the right decisions in advanced digital tools and creating a structure that all your employees can follow, you’ll be on the right path to making remote work a “new normal” for your business.