Remote work has become incredibly popular over the past decade. Technology advancements now make it easy for many jobs to move out of the office. Many office workers can get their work done anywhere, so long as they have a laptop and a secure Internet connection. Employees also love the freedom to work from home, which is becoming an in-demand perk. However, adopting a remote work policy can be daunting for many companies. Employers are often concerned about maintaining productivity, reliability, and workplace standards. Explore five frequent concerns regarding remote work and see what your company can do to mitigate these common worries.
Managing Employee Time
The top concern about allowing remote work deals with managing employee time. Many employers worry that they won’t be able to guarantee their staff is getting work done from home. Supervisors might feel like they don’t have a handle on what team members are doing if everyone isn’t in the office together. This concern is widespread, but studies show that remote work does not hurt productivity.
A Stanford University study revealed that people tend to be more productive when working from home instead of in the office. Remote workers are excused from many time-wasting elements of office culture. Excessive break room visits, gossip, coffee refills, and other distractions are eliminated for people working at home. Remote workers may also have an easier time concentrating on their duties when they’re not surrounded by noisy coworkers.
In addition to being more productive, the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers were also happier than their colleagues in offices. Since employee satisfaction is a major driver of productivity, it makes sense that happier employees can also get more work done. The study found that people working from home were also less likely to quit than employees who remained in the office. Remote policies could save money by boosting retention levels.
These studies show that employers shouldn’t worry about managing employee time. To be certain, your company can collect its own data through a remote pilot program. Allow some staff to work from home for a limited time. Then compare their remote productivity to their previous efforts in the office. This research can help you gauge whether remote work is a good fit for your culture.
Balancing Personal Time And Work Time
Employers also worry that remote workers will blur the lines between personal tasks and job responsibilities. Supervisors might imagine their team walking the dog while making calls, cooking elaborate meals while listening for email notifications, or slowly typing a report while paying more attention to a movie in the background. Even with the research on remote productivity, it can be hard to shake these suspicions.
Clear guidelines and communication can help relieve these concerns. Companies should set basic guidelines for remote workers. For example, establish timeframes when remote workers should be available each day. This guidance helps everyone know what to expect. Regular video meetings help teams stay in touch while also providing proof that everyone is busy at work.
Employers need to respect their team’s time for the best results. Remote workers still need an end to their day, even if they’re already at home. Don’t contact your staff outside of their standard working hours unless it’s a true emergency. This respect shows your team that you value their time and aren’t taking advantage of their situation.
Finally, everyone should be realistic about expectations for remote work. Don’t assume that remote staff will always be able to instantly respond to communications. Just like an office worker might be away from their desk when you stop by, remote workers might be unavailable for a moment.
Encourage your team to keep their calendars updated at all times. If you use chat programs, employees should update their status as necessary. You can also establish a timeframe when messages should be answered during workdays.
Team Collaboration Is Minimized
When a team works in different locations, collaboration can seem like a challenge. Group work sessions, brainstorming, and team building have traditionally taken place in person, at the office. Both employers and employees often worry about losing an office’s collaborative culture when making the shift to remote work. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent this from happening.
Collaboration can still happen using digital methods. Cloud-based platforms such as Elevate by Docutrend allow teams to work together, regardless of everyone’s physical location. This tool gives everyone access to project documents so entire workgroups can continue making progress. The platform includes robust document storage and sharing solutions as well as communication tools like video chat, text messaging, and file backups.
Modern technology offers other ways to improve teamwork as well. It’s never been easier to stay in touch with coworkers. Video conferencing tools are a powerful way to connect. This method allows body language, gestures, and other physical forms of communication to come through. Written tools like chat and email can also help a team keep working well together.
In addition to using technology to your advantage, your company can also plan opportunities to collaborate. If your team members live in the same area, consider scheduling regular in-person meetings. Whether you meet weekly, monthly, quarterly, or on some other timeline, physical meetings help everyone form strong bonds. More distributed remote teams can hold standing video meetings for a similar effect.
Limited Tech Support
Technical support is another potential trouble area for remote workers. When working in the office, employees can usually access technical support whenever they need it. Whether through specialized staff members, help desks, or contracted services, tech support helps employees solve computer and software problems. Employers need to consider how their remote workers can get technical help as needed.
Basic equipment should be the first consideration. Most employees can do their work using a computer, Internet access, and a phone. It’s important to decide which of these elements will be provided by the company, and which are the employee’s responsibilities. Some companies provide their employees with a business laptop and phone, plus provide an Internet stipend. Other companies expect their employees to provide their own phone, wireless connection, or other resources. Determine your company’s system, making sure to be consistent across all staff.
Next, train your team on general technology principles. Your staff should understand the basics of cyber security, how to use their primary business applications, and how to troubleshoot issues. These skills will empower remote workers to solve many minor problems.
For larger issues, you’ll need to determine the tech support process. Remote employees need to be able to contact tech support when they face trouble. Online platforms and ticketing systems can offer a foundation for your system, but you should also make backup plans. If an employee isn’t able to use their computer or connect to the Internet, they won’t be able to use online resources. A phone help line is old-fashioned but can be very effective during emergencies.
Less Visibility And Limited Communications
A final concern about moving to remote work is that employees can’t make a good impression when they’re working from home. Many employers and employees may feel that people can only accomplish their work when they’re physically present in the office. This is similar to the myth that people don’t get anything done when they work from home. Even though remote workers are often more efficient, the actual situation can be hard to conceptualize.
Supervisors and managers may worry that their team’s work isn’t noticed when it happens at home. Company leadership can’t see a team of remote workers the way they can drop in on a group in the office. This situation can make it hard for stakeholders to understand the scope of work being performed.
Put these worries to rest with several different strategies. First, remote workers should make an effort to stay connected to the rest of the workplace. They need to read their emails, communicate with their coworkers, and strive to build relationships throughout the team. This effort will help remote workers feel part of the community.
Supervisors and employees can also be proactive about communicating their successes. Managers who worry their team’s work is being lost in the shuffle should highlight it to company leadership. Brief showcases and thoughtful messaging can make sure a team’s contributions are fully recognized by decision makers.
Finally, employers should build structures that improve visibility and communications. Identify the best parts of your office culture and find a way to translate those to a remote workforce. For example, if your team loves to spend Monday morning talking about their weekends, consider starting weekly email chains where people can share their adventures from home.
Resolving Worries About Remote Work
Moving to a remote workforce can be a challenge for both employers and employees. Both parties may struggle to adapt, but a remote system also offers powerful advantages over traditional staffing models. Your company can enjoy easy transitions by addressing concerns ahead of time. Common worries can be avoided with some smart planning and clear communication.