Best practices for companies in the new Remote Work Model
When COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic, many businesses were forced to figure out how to continue business operations with a remote workforce. Initially, everyone assumed that employees would return to the office once the pandemic subsided.
Instead, a “new normal” was established. Businesses got comfortable with a remote staff, and the staff got more control over their work schedule and work environment. Commute time was eliminated, allowing more time to work on personal goals and interests: exercise, time with family, reading, gaming, etc.
Now that we’re past the ‘emergency’ phase of remote work, some companies are insisting that employees return to the office. However, most people aren’t interested in losing the flexibility and autonomy that remote work provides. The remote workforce is here to stay, and businesses must adapt their processes to ensure employees’ success.
We have adopted a few best practices to help remote employees be effective in their roles, feel connected to their teams, and “get” the company culture.
Have the right tools and workspace
We recommend a laptop, noise-cancelling headphones, and external webcam. Most people need an extra monitor and a light source for quality video during meetings. The happiest remote workers have a dedicated workspace (like a spare bedroom) that is quiet enough for online meetings. Everyone must have a desk and a good office chair. A good collaboration tool is essential for communication around the company, and especially within teams. There are many application choices, but the most popular are Microsoft Teams and Slack. We recommend Microsoft Teams because of the tight integration with other Microsoft products like PowerPoint and SharePoint. It also is a great phone system replacement for ‘landline’ connections.
Set proper expectations
How formal is your company? Communicate what the proper dress code should be for external meetings vs. internal meetings. We recommend that meetings should always be with video and microphone on – with the exception of unsafe situations (like driving). All teams should have a mandatory 15-30 minute ‘huddle’ every day. In huddles, all team members communicate their work schedule and any roadblocks. Everyone needs to know the core hours that each team member will be working each day. Determine and get agreement from the team on expected response time to communications to and from each other and with customers.
On-boarding new team members
It is essential that new team members are immersed in the company culture and have time to build relationships with other team members. We recommend a 1-2 week onboarding process during which new employees work side-by-side with other team members and are shown the tools and processes used for everything you do, and where to find this information. We like to send a welcome packet to new people with cookies and company gear such as shirts and fun swag that demonstrate our culture.
Collaboration and Culture
The most difficult problem with remote work is the loss of the natural connectedness and camaraderie people enjoy when working in a physical space together and have frequent interactions – in meetings and informally in the hallways. It is important to have opportunities for the teams and possibly the entire company meet in person regularly. We recommend teams meet every 3-4 months for a team dinner, followed by a day of being together with team building activities. Annually, one of the meetings can be extended another day and have the entire company get together for team building activities. We like to finish our company gathering with a happy hour, a catered dinner, and unstructured social time.
Companies are beginning to understand that remote work is not a passing fad. With remote work as a company benefit, businesses can attract the best talent from all over the country and the world. From the employees’ side, it allows them to have more flexible schedules and avoid time-wasting activities such as commuting. It also allows them the flexibility to better balance their work life and personal life and spend more time on activities that are important to them.
If you are interested in learning more about the tools we use to accommodate and facilitate a remote staff, please contact us at 614-212-1101 or by email at [email protected].