Enterprise Strategies

5 Ways to Help Remote Working Thrive at Your Company

5 Ways to Help Remote Working Thrive at Your Company

remotely workingRemote working is a hot topic right now, and conversation about working from home (or anywhere) is only growing. The idea has both supporters and critics, but when done correctly, your team can effectively do its job anywhere, and potentially be more satisfied personally and professionally. According to Global Workplace Analytics, between 20-25 percent of people work remotely at least part-time, and between 80-90 percent of professionals in the U.S. would like to work remotely and look for work from home companies to help them make this a reality.

As interest in telecommuting grows, many employers are embracing the possibility. One of our Senior Client Advisors, Allison Maguire, is putting remote working to the test by traveling the world for an entire year with her family, and working while doing so.

“The biggest adjustment, as we are traveling globally, has been juggling schedules and time zones,” Allison said. “This is even true for my kids, who check in with their teachers regularly and attend online courses. Be prepared to work some ‘alternate’ hours to make things work. I conducted meetings from Japan at 2 am to accommodate client schedules. This should be balanced by flexibility in your working schedule. In today’s world of knowledge work, emphasis should be on delivery, not time spent.”

If you are considering allowing remote working at your company, or already do and need ideas for effective remote working policies, these standards allow your team to have the freedom while still being connected and productive.

Communicate openly and honestly.

While having a team that communicates well is a standard for any company, open communication is even more important at a company with remote workers. The best way for your company to be successful is to share company goals and expectations from the beginning. This leaves little room for confusion about priorities and daily tasks. Reinforcing a transparent environment makes it difficult for any worker to slack off without the entire team noticing and holding him accountable. A challenge that many teams face is working with individuals in different time zones, especially if several hours apart, but finding a window of time that works for everyone (and communicating about it!) makes this easier.

Share processes and best practices.

Have a place to store resources, processes and other help/how-to guides and give all team members access to these documents. Doing so ensures continuity and guards against an individual slacking off on tasks, increasing team harmony. One team member’s proposal, for example, might look very different than another’s, so having a template and examples is helpful if this is a task that needs to be completed frequently. Having a group within your collaboration tool about processes and best practices where employees can quickly search for information and ask questions alleviates confusion and duplication.

Ask for others’ input.

By regularly asking for others’ input and feedback, and encouraging everyone to do the same, you are fostering a teamwork environment, even if employees are physically working alone. This gives each employee the chance to share his or her opinion and expertise, and gives projects and documents the best chance for success with so many eyes looking things over.

Check in regularly.

Find a good time, weekly, to connect with the entire team. Even if this means everyone is on your collaboration tool at the same time sharing updates about their work, this check-in time gives everyone the opportunity to hear from others and better be able to complete their tasks. As a manager, check in with individual team members often to understand any challenges they are facing, both professionally and personally.

Allow a flexible schedule.

Many companies allow employees to work a flexible schedule if he or she has an appointment or event to attend, a sick child, or another circumstance that requires working altered hours. For remote workers, it is especially important that everyone’s calendars are up-to-date and that managers set expectations about what constitutes allowing a flexed schedule. This way, no one is out of pocket without other team members realizing it. More and more workers see a flexible schedule as an important benefit, and workplaces that promote flexibility have an advantage when recruiting the best talent. According to a survey conducted by EY, 74 percent of global workers say that having a flexible work schedule “and still being on track for promotion” is the second most important factor in a potential job behind competitive pay and benefits.

Remote working is not going away, especially as technology continues to rapidly advance and change. The ability to video call and edit documents simultaneously allows for team members to work together from any location with an Internet connection. With a bit of preparation and a lot of communication, your team can be successful anywhere.