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Although remote work had become increasingly popular in recent years, working from home poses a whole set of challenges. From organizing your team to efficient communication, there are several keys to make a remote work strategy work.
Remote work strategy: organization is key
The first challenge you face when working remotely is the ability to switch from office work to home work on short notice. This has to involve a clear-cut plan that is presented to all your employees and they must agree.
Assembling a remote team is one of the hardest challenges managers face. Some people should be left in the office, while the majority of staff will work from home or another place to their liking (they are called digital nomads).
In a typical office, there is a hierarchical structure that ensures the work gets done on time, as every employee knows his or her role. Remote work smudges the hierarchy of a company, so an effort must be made to re-establish it as accurately as possible.
First of all, you will need coordinators who are going to assign tasks and delegate activates. Just because the workforce is scattered through the city, the country, or even the world, that doesn’t mean they should develop different goals. Good coordination ensures that all employees work on the same goal aligned with management’s aspirations.
Establishing the main communication channel
For a remote team to be productive, excellent communication is crucial. With all the messaging apps of today, idea-sharing seems easy, right? Well, the sheer number of com channels can prove to be a bad thing because there is no central register of “who said what,” to put it in plain words.
Therefore, your company should provide a single official communication channel that all employees would use. This can either be a freeware messaging app or a specialized platform your company would pay a subscription for. Individuals can still message each other using other apps but these would be regarded as unofficial (something like gossiping by the water cooler in the offline world).
Conference calls for fast messaging
One of the problems of an all-in-one communication solution is that you cannot be sure everyone got the message. The “seen” feature means little when you need an answer from everyone ASAP. Conveying important messages fast is best done through conference calls.
These don’t have to last for hours, as a 5-minute conference call can replace days of fruitless messaging. There are so many excellent online platforms for video conferencing nowadays that it pays off to hold video chats more regularly. Once your staff gets used to frequent video calls, this will become their favourite communication method.
After you solve all communication issues, you will notice that remote work downs productivity, at least at first. Since employees are now allowed to work wearing nothing but pyjamas or boxer shorts, it only natural they let their guard down.
In order to keep your staff motivated and focused during the time they work remotely, they need clear goals, standards, and boundaries. Once they are faced with a tight deadline, they will invest more energy in getting things done and overall productivity will once again start to increase.
Work-life vs personal life
One of the biggest dangers of remote work is the inability to separate one’s work life from their personal life. Setting up the office two feet from the bed means you can never completely “leave work”, nor are you 100% in the office. Employees who work from home need to learn when the time has come to disconnect everything and go to bed or grab a good book.
Virtual office security
You probably spend a lot of money each month on office security, whether it’s a security guard, surveillance cameras, or locks. Moving to an online work setting means that these costs are redundant and that you needn’t spend money on security, correct?
Although you’ll no longer require physical protection, cybercrime could pose an even greater issue, so investing in digital security is a must. Since tens or even hundreds of people are going to be accessing the designated enterprise system from their home computer, the last thing you want is for a computer virus to emerge.
From firewalls, across multi-layered authentication to setting up a VPN, there are numerous ways to protect your online business operations.
Setting up procedures
We’ve mentioned that careful planning is essential when working from home but you cannot forge a plan for the future unless you have pre-existing procedures and rules. These are clear and easily changeable when everyone works from the same office, but remote work comes with a certain lack of communication, regardless of the channel you have established.
An office on the road or a home office?
Remote workers should be given the power to choose where they want to work. The vast majority will choose the coziness of their home and designate a corner of the living room as a home office. Others, like the aforementioned digital nomads, prefer to change their work setting from time to time. In fact, travel bloggers or itinerary merchants have no other option but to have an office on the road.
Although employees are the ones selecting office space that suits them the best, employers should do their best to provide technical support. From a laptop with a solid integrated webcam to noise-cancelling headphones, workers should be provided with all the essentials for working remotely.
These are just some of the key points for a successful remote work strategy. Every business is different and every worker is different, so be ready to face unique challenges when working outside the office.