Since the pandemic, many companies have shifted to remote work. Both flex jobs and remote work are fairly synonymous now (although hip companies usually say “remote work” instead of “telecommuting”).
Working remotely offers many benefits to employees and businesses alike. It allows organizations to build dream teams on demand by hiring talent that isn’t limited by geographic locations.
Workplace flexibility, when done well, can boost employee morale and productivity. In a recent study, people who were allowed to work remotely saw their job stress decrease by 22% while seeing a 65% increase in overall satisfaction with their jobs. That’s a pretty significant change and one that is expected to continue even after the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
However, it’s important to make sure the workplace environment is a good fit for remote work. This means having strong, reliable connectivity that allows virtual teams to communicate and collaborate effectively. It also requires secure platforms for technologies like chat, videoconferencing, file sharing, and remote desktops.
It’s important for managers to ensure their employees are equipped with the tools they need to be successful in a remote working environment. To do this, they should set clear expectations for how frequently an employee should check in and hold regular virtual meetings. They should also provide clear guidelines on the types of equipment needed and how to maintain it.
In addition to setting clear expectations, managers need to be transparent about the policies that govern remote work and to communicate with their employees. They should also make it clear that remote work is not a replacement for coming into the office or a sign of laziness or poor performance. Instead, it should be seen as a work-life flexibility option that is available for certain positions.
For example, HHS has two categories of remote work options: Routine and Situational/Ad-Hoc. In both cases, an employee’s eligibility for these arrangements is based on a supervisory determination of the nature of the work and how many hours during a biweekly pay period must be completed at an agency worksite. If an employee is assigned to a new position, he or she must discuss the terms of a new workplace flexibility agreement with his or her supervisor.
Companies that wind back progress on remote work run the risk of demoralizing their employees and pushing them to competitors that offer more flexible options. The coronavirus pandemic may be over, but companies that are not prepared for the shift to a remote-first workplace could see their recruitment efforts and retention numbers decline.
When people think of remote work, they often picture a laptop-wielding traveler on a tropical beach. While some location independent workers do use their freedom to travel, the vast majority of remote workers work from home, coworking spaces or other places that feel like productive and healthy workspaces to them. The freedom to choose your workspace can also help create clear boundaries between work and personal life, which can lead to better overall health.
Having the flexibility to work from home can also reduce costs for both employees and employers. For employees, not having to commute eliminates the expense of gas and tolls, as well as the cost of public transportation. It can also save time in the morning, which can result in less stress and more time for hobbies or family.
For companies, remote work can reduce the need to maintain costly offices or even hire local talent. Instead, the ability to work remotely opens up the company to candidates from all over the world, as long as they have the right skills and are willing to relocate. This can increase the diversity of the workforce, as well as bring in new perspectives that can make a business more innovative.
In addition to saving on operating costs, companies that allow their employees to work from home can save on office space and equipment. Many of these businesses are able to save upwards of $50 million a year in real estate costs alone. In the case of attrition, allowing for remote work can also lead to lower turnover rates, which means less money spent on recruiting and training costs.
One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it can support environmental sustainability initiatives. For instance, by reducing commuter traffic, the ability to work from home can cut down on air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It can also lead to a reduction in waste and consumption, as telecommuters can use online communication tools instead of paper and other physical products. This can also have a positive impact on global climate change, as it reduces the need to plant and harvest trees.
The most crucial component of a successful team is the rapport that exists among the members. A strong team is one that demonstrates cohesiveness, a group of people who genuinely bond with each other and lean on each other for support and encouragement in the pursuit of shared goals.
Building cohesive teams is an ongoing process that requires a significant amount of focus and intention. It’s especially important in remote work, where employees are removed from the physical comfort of the office and can feel disconnected from coworkers.
Cohesive teams build trust and rely on each other for support in the face of challenges, regardless of their location. They also demonstrate a greater degree of resilience when facing adversity, which can increase productivity.
Team members find motivation, ideas, and creativity from their relationships with their colleagues. They need to connect and share their personal experiences in order to feel a part of a larger culture, which helps them stay committed to their work.
Achieving team cohesiveness in a remote setting is challenging, but it can be done with the right management strategy and commitment from the organization. The key is to put a stronger emphasis on the foundational concepts of team development, such as forming, storming, and norming, while paying special attention to unique issues that arise in remote work settings.
One major issue that can disrupt the normal functioning of a remote team is time zones. For example, a team that works on a global scale may be split across multiple countries and can experience difficulty keeping everyone on the same page about the latest developments in their projects.
It’s also critical for remote workers to make an effort to create and maintain a healthy balance between professional and personal lives. This includes having a dedicated talk space on a collaboration platform where they can share jokes and other things not related to the day’s tasks. This type of interaction can promote a sense of togetherness and a willingness to lean on one another during times of stress or uncertainty, which can help reduce the risk of burnout.
Remote work requires a special kind of communication. Without the benefit of instantaneous in-person interactions, it can be easy to miss important details or misunderstand each other. It’s critical to be purposeful with your words and use a variety of communication tools, including instant messaging, email, video calls, and more. In the long run, this will result in clear, vetted information flowing quickly throughout your team — regardless of proximity.
In addition, it’s important to set aside time to communicate in-person with your team members when possible. This will help to build trust and a sense of camaraderie between team members, even if it’s just for one-on-one meetings or impromptu virtual “watercooler” chats. This will also prevent your team from feeling isolated or disconnected from each other, which can lead to burnout and staff turnover.
High turnover can be a huge drain on any organization. Not only does it cost your company the money that the employee was earning, but you’ll also have to invest the time and energy into finding and training their replacement. This can also be a big hit to morale and productivity in the office.
If your team has a hard time communicating with each other, try scheduling regular meetings that are open to the whole team or create dedicated communication channels for smaller groups. This way, everyone is on the same page about what’s going on in the company, as well as who’s working from home or where they are.
Another great way to ensure that remote workers are in the loop about company news is to send out an internal newsletter every month. This way, employees can easily find out what they need to know and stay up to date on the latest projects and initiatives. By organizing the content into business unit sections and assigning a leader from each division to pull together their section, you can keep this process simple and efficient for your team.