Remote Work Success Secrets
Whilst many (most) of us have recently been thrust into the world of 'working from home' and had to adapt on the fly to this change. Remote work in itself is not new, and in fact I believe the first half of 2020 and everything that came with that will mean that remote work, whether from home, a shared remote office or on the road, will be more prevalent in the future with employers realising the benefits, understanding the possibilities harnessing the value of being able to not only consider but genuinely encourage and cater for this level of flexibility.
So regardless of the circumstances, what are the secrets to amazing remote working arrangements which foster productivity, engagement, top quality talent attraction and high-level performance?
Step 1 The Set Up
Ensuring all of the logistics are sorted is paramount to ensuring your remote workforce is productive. This may require some external assistance from your IT provider, and time to investigate the best systems and tools, but the investment here will pay off.
What you need to determine in this step is:
Where will they work?
- Do they have an appropriate / dedicated space?
- Is it ergonomically suitable?
- Get a work from home safety checklist completed by them to provide you and the business with the assurance and protection that they have a safe workplace;
How will they work?
- Who is supplying the equipment?
- Do you need to purchase anything for them?
- Do they have adequate internet connection / coverage?
- Do they have phone, headset, webcam and anything else they will need?
- What tools, apps and programs will you use to enable communication
Step 2 The Boundaries
If you're planning to introduce remote work, or have been doing it with some 'teething problems' to date, boundaries are critical and a lack of them may be limited the potential success of the arrangements. This is where you need to have open and transparent conversations with your staff in regards to how this is all going to work.
In this step you want to:
- Set expectations and structures;
- Talk to staff about what they are expecting and what you are expecting and make sure you come to agreement in this, or provide direction to them;
- Remind staff that the normal workplace policies and processes still apply. This might include computer, internet, email and social media policies, drug and alcohol policies or anything other policies that people may tend to forget about when they start working from home;
- If you're not comfortable that these existing policies cover adequately what you need now, no problems get them updated. In fact simply adding a working from home policy to the mix to cover all of these boundaries and expectations is the perfect place to start;
- Involve your team in the decisions so they feel they can contribute, have their say and are able to work within the structure;
- Have consistency, as much as is practical, to the 'in office' staff. If you have a team meeting every Monday at 8am, continue to do that and have your remote team dial in.
Once agreed boundaries and structures have been agreed to stick to them! This is especially important for you the business manager or leader, if you start to waver on this it gives your team the green light to let go of the structure and agreement, and it can be difficult to get this back on track.
Step 3 Communication
The need for consistent, positive and productive communication is amplified when you have remote workers, and in particularly if everyone in your business is remote.
The option to stick your head into someone's office is no longer possible, and the day to day chatter and banter that creates morale and gels a team together disappears so create room for this in another way.
Use video calling technology where possible to maintain face to face interaction and failing that use phone over email at least once a day.
Step 4 Routines
Routines can be so important to all of us, some people hate them but need them, other don't need the but love them. Either way they help create a sense of consistency and regularity which we are often accustomed to at work and this doesn't change when the team is remote.
Remote work creates an opportunity for new routines to be established, especially if old ones weren't working so embrace this.
Where possible allow staff to trial setting their own routines that work best for them. People work differently, and when one person is super creative that might be the exact time of day another person is generally feeling tired and less creative. If you have a staff member who is an early riser and functions brilliantly at 6am but does better when they can take an hour or so middle of the day to do some exercise and re charge their brain, let them try this. Conversely if you have an employee who loves to sleep in and take a walk before being at their working best at 10am, let them try this. By enabling some flexibility for employees to create their own routine you may just tap into a whole new level of productivity.
Step 5 Mini Goals versus Long Term Goals
Sometimes mini goals help us to get to our bigger goals faster, and this can be more true when working remotely and the bigger goals seems more distant.
Break down goals, objectives and accountability measures to a daily or weekly goal, rather than longer term. This can be a great way to keep everyone on task, working towards the objectives and longer term organisational vision.
Anchor these mini goals to the big picture vision, the greater purpose for more engagement and stronger results.
Step 6 Adaptability
Creating amazing remote work arrangements requires adaptability, from the employees yes, but from us as business owners more so. We need to be ready to embrace new technologies and ways of working that may improve productivity or efficiency.
Adaptability often comes from shifting thinking from a place of impossibility to a place of possibility. So rather than 'that's not possible or that's not how we do things' starting thinking in ways of 'how can we make that possible right now?' Encourage your team to reframe their thinking in these ways as well.
Encourage open minded conversations, and the learning that comes with them. Most importantly make the team feel safe to ask questions, seek information and think laterally, nothing should be off the table and there are no silly questions.
Step 7 Embracing Distractions
This may sound counter intuitive but let's be real working from home brings a new set of distractions. Whilst as a business owner or leader you are used to pretty much being able to control the work environment and the potential distractions, when staff work from home or from another location you lose this control.
Creating the right boundaries and being consistent with the right routines will allow you to maintain that sense of control around appropriately limiting the wrong distractions, but this can be a great time to embrace some of the distractions that may in fact help your team to continue to remain bonded and engaged whilst lacking in person interaction.
If you'd like to grab a copy of our free step by step guide on how to create work from home or remote work arrangements whilst keeping your team engaged and productive, download it here.
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