Since the declaration of the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization sometime around March of 2020, many companies have completely shifted into a remote work arrangement known in various titles such as telecommuting, teleworking, working from home, or work from anywhere.
This is a work arrangement in which employees are not required to commute and travel to a central workplace, such as an office building, a store, or a warehouse. While some believe that this arrangement is only a measure that seeks to reduce physical contact among employees and is therefore only temporary, top business analysts say that telecommuting is the future of the workplace.
That being said, it is both convenient and helpful to start gaining knowledge about the popularity of remote work today, its benefits for employees and executives, and from there, learn how to build an effective and comprehensive small work strategy. This blog will seek to cover all these topics in the following order:
- The Popularity of Remote Work Today.
- The Benefits of Remote Work for Employees and Employers.
- How to Build a Successful Remote Work Strategy.
- How to Keep Remote International Employees Engaged in a Remote Work Arrangement.
The Popularity of Remote Work Today
A survey by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) presupposes that the percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021. Likewise, another recent Gartner survey reveals that around 74 percent of Chief Financial Officers carry the intention to permanently shift employees to a remote work setup even after the COVID-19 crisis. If anything, these pieces of information imply that executives deem the remote work arrangement an effective way of getting business done anyway despite the pandemic situation.
Erik Bradley, who serves as chief engagement strategist at ETR, cites the productivity metric as evidence proving that remote work is indeed working. “So, we all thought that there would be some increase in permanent remote work, but we did not expect that to double from pre-pandemic levels,” says Bradley.
Even social media powerhouses like Twitter announce that its 5 100 employees across 35 international offices are permitted to work from home indefinitely if they choose to. Several other tech companies whose services only require a solid and stable internet connection will likely follow Twitter.
Square, an American financial services, merchant services aggregator, and mobile payment company owned by Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, shares the same outlook and will allow employees to “work from home indefinitely” even after offices start reopen. Other top companies will enable their employees to work remotely for the long term include:
- Recreational Equipment, Incorporated.
- Nationwide Insurance.
Globally, 56 percent of companies are allowed to work remotely, while in the United States alone, 7 million employees work from home at least half the week. According to a report by Buffer, most, if not all, these employees prefer working remotely, a social media management platform. This report cites data from interviews of 2500 remote workers where 99 percent stated that they choose to work remotely, overworking in an office building for “at least some time for the rest of their careers.” HubSpot, one of Buffer’s competitors, employs a team of 300 full-time remote employees and even gives its employees the option of only partially working remotely. These data show that more and more companies will shift to operating 100 percent remotely at the onset of COVID-19 and even after the pandemic is lifted.
Forbes predicts that by 2025, an estimated 70 percent of the global workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month. 2020 may have been dubbed as the year of remote work, but it sure did open us to the possibility of a future where every employee is working remotely.
What are the benefits of remote work?
As previously mentioned, more and more companies today are shifting to a remote work arrangement not just as a measure to avoid physical contact but because of its benefits and positive effects on employee performance, company expenses, and the like. The four significant benefits of the work-from-home arrangement are as follows:
One reason why employees tend to become unproductive in the workplace is the office workplace distraction. They cannot avoid having trivial conversations with colleagues that are unnecessary and unhelpful for accomplishing their jobs. On the contrary, the telecommuting setup helps employees focus on performing their tasks without interruptions from officemates. Additionally, working remotely gives the employee the discretion to work outside regular office hours, especially whenever they feel productive.
Allowing your employees to have flexible schedules helps them balance their work and life priorities better. From the perspective employee, this is one of the treasured benefits of working remotely—spending time with your family more.
Moreover, not requiring your employees to commute to work every day enables them to accomplish their responsibilities. It will also lessen the stress on them, which gives more happiness and satisfaction to their jobs.
Reduced expenses are one benefit of remote work that is particularly helpful to employers. Since your employees do not need to commute to work every day, they no longer have to cut their salaries to a transportation allowance. Also, instead of paying a parking fee, gas, vehicle maintenance, and subway fares, they can use their money to pay their bills, buy groceries, and send gifts to their loved ones—thousands of money they can save from working remotely.
Office working can give employees a hard time maintaining their health and lifestyle. Deciding what to wear for work, commuting to work, and preparing meals can cost the employee a lot of time. In remote work, they can use the time allotted on these activities to exercise, play sports, cook healthy food, and take care of their holistic health. This is not only a benefit advantageous to employees. Instead, employers can also benefit from this because when the employees are healthy, they can deliver the best results for the company.
Read more on the benefits and drawbacks of remote work: The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely.
How to Build a Successful Remote Work Strategy
We have already established the benefits of remote work. It makes way for healthier and more productive employees. It gives them more flexibility and advantages for the company by cutting significant expenses intended for the office workplace setup, such as transportation allowances for employees, coffee, and other miscellaneous costs.
However, shifting to a remote work arrangement does not guarantee that the company will be effective and efficient in doing business. A successful remote team still warrants a detailed policy and communication strategy where every team member knows their expectations. The following are factors to consider when aiming to achieve success in telecommuting.
A dilemma all remote workforces continue to figure out is communication. ICPlan believes there are crucial elements in effective remote work communication:
- Getting the right channel mix. Technology is, by all means, the critical foundation in remote work communications. The “right channel mix” is entirely dependent on the needs and nature of your company. Nevertheless, the most commonly used and effective chat and collaboration software are Microsoft Teams, Slack, and even Workplace from Facebook. A video conferencing software that facilitates conversations between and among the members of a remote team is also a necessity. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Facebook Workplace are considered the most effective in this area. Another essential platform in remote work is intended for cloud sharing and collaboration. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Modern help employees collaborate in documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other forms of content.
- Get Feedback. Communication should, without a doubt, come in two ways. You do not want your employees to develop grievances and problems against you because you close them off. Therefore, it is necessary to set up avenues where your employees can detail their concerns, suggestions, and recommendations about your leadership and other work-related issues. When an employee sees that their feedback is being read and responded to, it cultivates a company culture of openness and willingness to improve for the better.
- Track Engagement. It is easier to become complacent when your remote teammates are so far apart. This can easily be a recipe for disaster because it is harder to evaluate the effectiveness of your leadership when you literally cannot see nor feel the concerns and issues of your employees. Engagement surveys can help track the engagement and interactiveness of your employees. These should be purposefully tailored to track the effectiveness of a project in terms of the most essential criteria in engagement: comprehension, productivity, satisfaction, and similarity. Scheduling individual consultations with your employees to get their thoughts and opinions may also be a good idea.
Daily Personal Routines.
Establishing daily personal routines can help you be more consistent, productive, and generally stable. By showing that you value your employees’ privacy and encouraging them to adjust based on their needs, you can foster a culture of validation and affirmation.
You can communicate with your team members about ways they manage their personal lives and yet continue to perform their roles and responsibilities at work in the most efficient way possible. You can incorporate rituals in daily check-ins and check-outs, such as ringing a bell on a video conference to signal that the meeting is about to begin or playing a victory song at the end of work hours. Consistent routines help kick the day off, reaffirm your company’s goals and expectations, and provide a clearer picture of an effective and efficient day ahead.
Clear Performance Expectations.
Achieving goals involves setting realistic expectations for the members of a remote team. The keyword that must be noted here is sensible. As a leader, you cannot just expect your employees to perform roles beyond their job description in an unreasonable amount of time. If you want them to perform quality work, you should guide them by making yourself available to answer any questions and concerns regarding their assigned tasks.
How to Keep Remote International Employees Engaged in a Remote Work Arrangement
Access to information may be limited for your employees. Providing them with tools that can help them navigate through any documents or files they need to continue executing their responsibilities is necessary to keep them engaged. A well-maintained file-sharing and document storage repositories like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive are essential in letting your employees access critical information. This ensures a smooth experience for them and prevents wasting time locating documents, tools, and training materials, which all increase employee productivity.
Providing regular updates.
Regular communication from the executives to the remote teams is crucial to the success of the company. It is your responsibility to ensure that company-wide announcements reach channels where everyone has easy access. Remote work can easily make workers feel disconnected, so ensuring they receive updates from top-level management is an important business initiative.
Favorable work-life balance.
Remote work has made your bedroom your office space too. It may be hard to draw a line between work and life in this work arrangement, so a company that tries everything in its power to encourage that the employee maintains a meaningful relationship with their family while also accomplishing work tasks is a company that values employee work-life balance.
The growing interest in remote work arrangements is supported by the biggest companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other tech giants. Analysts have assumed remote work to be the future of the workplace because of the convenience, ease, and comfort it brings to both employees and employers. However, just because your company shifted into a remote work arrangement does not mean that you are guaranteed to grow in revenue and exposure.
A well-written and well-developed remote work strategy is still key to the smoothness of the transition from the traditional work arrangement to the work-from-home situation. The key takeaway from this blog is that no matter how talented a team of remote employees is when they are not communicated to and valued in a company, there is an enormous chance that they are bound to leave for another company.
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