This article provides a brief overview of some of the policies you may need, and decisions you should be ready to make, in supporting your team with remote working.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has required a remote-working response from most businesses, it’s worth noting that remote working isn’t a “negative” for your business. It can be a profoundly positive thing for your team and your profitability.
Some of the typical benefits of remote working include:
- Productivity benefits from less commuting time;
- Lower costs for the employer for real estate and services;
- Improved work-life balance for employees; and
- Environmental benefits from less transportation.
To get the full benefits of remote working, you do need to find the right model for you and your business. So here are some areas to focus on in order to maximise the positive impacts and minimise any downsides.
Firstly, remember your staff members’ basic ICT needs – a suitable computer, cloud-based software, fast broadband, WiFi in the home, good mobile coverage and so forth.
Secondly, plan to use collaboration and workflow tools to organise and manage your team’s work. Some firms report that collaboration can slow down when staff are not physically in one location. The right tools can make sure this doesn’t happen. Some examples include:
- Collaboration tools like Slack and Trello;
- Cloud-based file-sharing tools like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive;
- Planning and project management apps like Asana or Xero’s WorkflowMax.
Thirdly, leave plenty of room for social contact. A successful team needs social interaction which can be best in person. In one recent piece of research, one in five respondents said loneliness was their biggest struggle with remote working. Your business culture needs to foster the inclusion of your remote workers. While the lockdown is continuing, you can hold social Friday drinks over Zoom or the like. Post-lockdown, you could, for example, plan regular “in-office” days when as many staff as possible gather.
Finally, don’t forget your health and safety obligations. Make sure your remote workers are working in suitable conditions, for example with no trip hazards from IT cables and appropriate furniture.