Fear not: Remote Work is Here to Stay
It brings great advantages, but not without challenges.
In the wake of the pandemic, transitioning staff to working remotely appeared to be the answer to saving employees and businesses. Remote workforces were a trend already, only to be accelerated by the necessity to stay home. Reduction of office space, parking space, furniture, and other costs are all benefits a company may accrue when adopting this model. However, these benefits do not come for free. To ensure a remote workforce succeeds, business leaders need to pay attention to employee and customer satisfaction, employee turnover rates, and other key performance indicators and find solutions to the challenges associated with this practice.
The weakening of the corporate culture
Traditionally, corporate culture has been significantly influenced by how people dress, interact in the workplace, and share the same physical environment. The corporate headquarters was a place where the abstract notion of a “company” would take form. In the new reality of remote work, managers need to be aware of the possible weakening of the corporate culture and execute strategies to strengthen their staff’s shared beliefs and behaviors. Virtual events to promote corporate culture, scheduled visits to the office for happy hours, and meetings with staff to provide regular updates help send a signal to employees they are still part of something bigger than themselves. It is vital for people to feel they are not isolated in a cocoon and that their work contributes to a larger result. Especially for younger workers, being part of a collective or community may mean the difference between staying or leaving for a new opportunity. For more tips on dealing with this challenge, the article https://orspartners.com/remote-team-building-activities/ provides a good starting point.
Onboarding and retaining employees
When receiving new hires, it was customary for HR to take the employee around the office, where the person was introduced to peers and other personnel. An initial onboarding course was not unusual and helped cement the company’s impression on the new staff members. In a remote situation, a person could potentially start working by themselves on day one. As a result, it’s is vital to take this introduction practice virtual, where HR will use video and audio calls to introduce the new hire to their counterparts. A welcome kit with corporate materials such as policies, shirts, mousepads, and other branded promotional items is also useful for making new hires feel like part of the team in a remote work environment. As is discussed here, https://cultureiq.com/blog/best-practices-onboarding-remote-employees/, working remotely can be a challenge for those accustomed to a traditional shared workspace. Hence, leaders need to put extra focus on making sure new virtual hires feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.
The retention of remote workers is also something that should be treated as equally important. If employees are engaged and satisfied with their work and working environment, they are less likely to leave, so leaders need to pay attention to what matters to remote workers. According to sources (https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/resources/talent-engagement/top-employee-retention-strategies, https://orspartners.com/remote-employee-retention/ ), the most important do’s and don’ts are:
- DO: Streamline Onboarding and Remote Training
- DO: Set Expectations
- DO: Check in on Satisfaction
- DO NOT: Micromanage
- DO: Maintain Culture and Shared Purpose
- DO: Recognize the achievements of remote workers.
- DO NOT: overlook remote employees for promotions.
Accountability and support
Structure and organization are essential for remote workers to succeed. More experienced workers will naturally export their routines to the home office setting, but this may not be true for the younger generation. How to guarantee that work is being done in the most efficient way? How to determine whether people need extra support in their daily tasks? Managers will struggle with these questions in this new setting. Additional follow-up meetings will be required at the end of the day or week to assess the status of tasks, and this will take adjustment and extra time from everybody. Setting clear goals and expectations will also go a long way towards enforcing accountability. Without taking a “big brother” approach, managers need to make sure work is being completed in the best way possible. To that effect, new metrics may need to be created to reflect the reality of the home office environment. Companies also need to ask how best to deliver coaching remotely and how to configure workspaces to enhance employee safety. The link https://www.friday.app/accountability-remote-teams provides a lengthier discussion about this topic and delves into some strategies that can be used.
“I want to have a good job, but I also want to have a life.” This sentence (https://spaceiq.com/blog/future-of-remote-working/ ) summarizes the approach the new generation takes when thinking about work. Older people are leaving the workforce and being replaced by Millennial and Gen-Z workers. Loyalty is in short supply and gone are the days where one would expect to stay in the same place for years and years. Mobility is an asset nowadays, and it is up to the corporate world to adjust in this new era. It is well understood by companies that change is the only constant we can expect, so it should not come as a surprise the challenges that remote work brings. What really needs to be clear is that this situation is not temporary, and we cannot assume that when this pandemic is done, we will all go back to the old ways. We are past the point of no return. This is the new normal until another one comes along.