Since April 2020, the world has changed significantly – for the first time, a pandemic forced the majority of companies to provide employees a remote-friendly working environment.
Fast forward to today, and the majority has had a taste of working from home in some guise or another. Many of whom are enjoying the freedom that comes with working from home. Consequently, this has amped up the pressure for companies to provide a remote-first ethos.
But how can businesses smoothly make this transition?
Continue reading as we dig deeper into the answer to this question:
Why Bother Adopting the Remote-First Model?
Even before COVID-19, the majority of workers boast internet access and have their own mobile technology – i.e., smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Needless to say, this makes remote working more straightforward than ever before.
For many workers, it's been a long-awaited transition – especially those who want to strike a better work/life balance. However, now it's not just employees who have warmed to the idea. In fact, more and more businesses are starting to see the benefits.
Take banking giant Morgan Stanley as an example. They plan to have “less real estate” going forward. Similarly, Nationwide Insurance report adopting a 98% work-from-home model during COVID-19, and going on, they'll adopt a hybrid model.
How Business Owners Can Go Remote-First
Although remote working is easier than ever before, there are still a few hurdles to overcome. If you're a manager looking to facilitate this new way of working (especially if it's for the first time), you'll need to answer the following questions:
- What do you, as the employer, need to provide employees to work from home effectively?
- What do your employees need to commit to/change to work remotely?
- What factors do you need to consider? For instance, how will employee contracts need changing? Will you alter the benefits packages offered to employees? If so, how? As an employer, how will you ensure the mental and physical well-being of your remote workforce?
- What are the aims of remote working?
- What are the potential downsides of working from home?
The answers to these questions will lay a solid foundation for your remote-first model. However, we urge you to dig deeper by doing the following:
Ask Your Staff: ‘In an Ideal World How Would You Like to Work?'
If you're on the fence about whether remote working is the way forward for your team – ask them. Put the feelers out to see whether there's an appetite for working from home.
We suggest sending out an anonymous survey where you pose the question: ‘In an ideal world, how would you like to work (long-term)?'
Then provide the following three options to choose from:
- Work fully remotely.
- Work a mix of stay-at-home and the office (the hybrid model)
- Always work from the office.
At the bottom of this survey, we also suggest encouraging employees to offer any concerns they may have about working from home. That's as well as any solutions they have that may make the transition easier.
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Create a Remote Working Policy
To make the transition to remote working a successful one, you need to create a work from home policy. This shouldn't be full of legalese or jargon. Instead, ensure it's clear and concise so that everyone on your team can fully understand the workings of your policy.
The crux of this document is to define how your team will work remotely. As such, you'll need to cover things like:
- Working hours
- The software tools employees will have access to while working from home.
- How you'll measure productivity
- Who's eligible to work from home (i.e., under what circumstances, whether they have to apply to work remotely, etc.)
- Whether the employee will work full or part-time from home.
- How employees should communicate (I.e., how your team should stay in touch, what the chain of command is, etc.)
…You get the idea!
What are the Benefits of Becoming a Remote-First Business?
Let's assess the perks:
Employees Like Working from Home
A recent study says 60% enjoy working from home and want to continue doing so after COVID-19. This is especially true for parents trying to juggle family responsibilities alongside their work. Not to mention, more and more of us want to travel. But, we don't always have the vacation days available to us to satiate our wanderlust. With remote working, you can keep up with your work duties while traveling the globe – it's truly a win-win scenario!
You don't need us to tell you that a happy workforce leads to loyal employees. This isn't just great for your staff retention rates, but it's also fabulous for building a strong employer brand.
A Boost in Productivity
On top of that, recent reports show working from home also leads to an increase in progress and productivity. In fact, Twitter saw such a boost that they've since allowed their employees to work from home “forever.”
It's not just Twitter that recognizes the perks of working from home but also global giants like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. All of these companies have said they plan on evaluating their long-term remote working strategies by the end of 2021.
Hiring Internationally is Much Easier
It's also worth noting, becoming a remote-first company also makes hiring staff all around the world much more feasible. Sometimes to secure the best talent in your industry, you have to cast a wider net – and occasionally, this means hiring people who aren't geographically close to you.
Needless to say, offering these candidates the opportunity to work entirely from home enables them to consider your job opportunity withing having to relocate (should they not want to).
How Do You Stay Connected with a Remote Workforce?
Those wary of switching to remote working are often concerned about the lack of interactivity. As such, it's essential to address these worries as you go about embracing this new way of working. It's up to you, as the head of your company, to make sure morale stays high and that you support your employees as they venture into the world of at-home working.
GetResponse did a fantastic job of this. In fact, they offered employees all of the following to help them settle into ‘the new normal:'
- A monthly stipend to pay for home office expenses (food, beverages, well-being treatments, or whatever else they wanted to use the money for)
- A one-time grant to set up an at-home office
Consequently, as many as 97% of respondents in an internal survey felt GetResponse's management team had successfully supported their transition into remote work.
Of course, it's not just the practicalities and financials of working from home that sometimes concerns employees. For some, they say they find it hard to ‘switch off' – so they never feel as though they leave work behind them for the evening. Also, others report feeling a certain amount of loneliness after a while.
This is why it's imperative you encourage employees to interact with one another. Think Slack channels, Zoom catch-ups and meetings, and of course, socials. As lockdown begins to relax around the world, it's crucial your team still hangs out.
Why not schedule a monthly outing for coffee? Or an after-work drink? What did you use to do that united you as a team outside of the office? Whatever it was, could you make an effort to keep it up? This goes a long way to boosting a sense of team cohesion, which carries employees through the lonelier spells of at-home working.
Are You Ready to Embrace the Remote-First Work Style?
We hope that having read this guide, you now have a better idea as to whether embracing a remote-first work style is right for your business. If it is, you should now have a few ideas swirling around your brain as to how to support employees as your business makes the transition.
We'd love to hear your opinions on this. If you're making the switch to remote working, what went well? What were the struggles? Let us know in the comments box below, and let's get the conversation flowing!