6 Ways to Create Sustainable Remote Work
Building a transition to a remote workforce? Or currently find yourself with one? You most likely realize you need structure for it to be sustainable.
Similar to a traditional office setting, clearly defined roles, expectations, and guidelines determine the success and lack of frustration for your team. While there are numerous advantages to having a remote workforce, putting time into creating the foundation and structure is essential.
Begin by defining these six essential policies for a successful remote workforce.
1. Outline Schedule Expectations
First, establish the boundaries of your remote work policy. Will your employee hours be flexible, or will they follow a traditional 9-to-5 schedule? With four different remote scheduling models to choose from, which is the most viable to meet business needs? Does every department need to follow the same scheduling model, or do some have more flexibility?
Speaking of scheduling, as you transition to a remote workforce, are you going to offer a hybrid option? For those employees that thrive with some in-person collaboration, this is a nice compromise. Depending on the type of business you lead, this might also be incredibly beneficial for the company.
A different type of hybrid model might see some of the employees working remotely and others in person. This also might be a great way to smooth the transition, even if you have a long-term goal of a completely remote workforce.
2. Understand Communication Challenges and Guidelines
One of the areas where remote work requires extra thought is around communication guidelines. There is the obvious question of how teams will collaborate on projects and business. Less obvious are the casual, social interactions that build teams.
Professional communication guidelines are tied to scheduling boundaries. How much work is collaborative, and at what pace responses are needed, will help guide those policies.
When team members have clearly defined solo roles without as much back-and-forth, perhaps infrequent check-ins will suffice. On the other hand, if the team is heavily collaborative, you may require them to work standard hours and expect fairly short response times.
Equally important are the casual socializing aspects. Known as watercooler or break room conversations, they help team members feel comfortable building camaraderie.
Companies have found creative ways to meet these needs. Casual coffee chats, Slack channels, and fun icebreakers during Zoom meetings are just a few examples. Ensure that you are intentionally building those into your online culture.
3. Clarify Remote Workstation Regulations
Is it alright for children and pets to be in the background, or is there a need for a quiet workspace? Who is going to provide the home office setup?
If you’re transitioning to a remote workforce, is it realistic to expect team members to have that space when they didn’t before? Who provides the digital tools, such as the obvious computer, and the less obvious Wi-Fi?
4. Invest in the Correct Tools
Take time before the transition to consider how your team will communicate and collaborate. Ask members of each team to weigh in on the benefits of each method that you are considering.
Collaboration tools are essential in a remote world. Transparent project management tools help keep everyone on the same page. Google Drive, Airtable, and Trello are popular tools to consider.
Many teams choose Slack for simple communication needs. Be cautious in choosing too many different programs, as team members can get overwhelmed. Consider utilizing communication tools within programs, such as comment options inside Trello or Basecamp, or huddles inside Slack. This will eliminate the need for an extra program.
Security is a major concern for every organization and should also be for every consumer. Remote workforces have the added challenge of smart appliances and tools used throughout the home. Rather than leave it to chance, will you provide a VPN or remote protocols? How will you support IT needs?
5. Create Metrics for Success
In a traditional office setting, a portion of an employee’s metric is built by simply showing up. Seeing them at their station every day, and how they contribute to the company culture, is often a piece of overall perception.
How will you track time and job performance? If a power outage knocks out their Wi-Fi, will you still compensate them for their time? How structured are their break times?
One of the biggest challenges remote workers might face is learning how to manage their time in a remote environment. Distractions abound at home. Have frequent check-ins and provide training to help them navigate this new dynamic.
6. Support Team Members’ Well-Being
What can initially be seen as a haven can wear down on someone’s mental health and turn into isolation. Consider investing in a membership to a coworking space, or perhaps offer team meetups. When possible, encourage team members to get outside throughout the day.
If your company can support it, offer paid days to volunteer for a cause they are passionate about. Perhaps, give mental health days occasionally. Team yoga or mindfulness breaks once a week help jumpstart their self-care routine.
With clear policies, a transition to a remote workforce can be smooth and create a thriving dynamic.
Check out more tips on how to create a sustainable remote work environment.
By Kimberli Lowe-MacAuley | Categories: Remote Management
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