The rise in remote work in recent years has changed the game for employees and employers. With such a sharp shift into remote work and the new expectation for employees to have telework opportunities, businesses needed time to regain their footing and figure out best practices for this new era of work.
For years, managers have been able to oversee people in person, making it evident which employees were slacking off or not carrying their weight. The thing about virtual work is that the signs are still there; it just requires reading different cues. Allowing your employees the freedom to work from home requires a high level of trust, but you'll find that your employees will still yield excellent results and may even be more productive at home.
Where To Start?
The quest for a solid remote work culture starts with hiring ideal remote work candidates. A freelance marketplace is a great place to start if you are wondering how to find employees who thrive in a remote work culture. Shifting to an employee culture focusing on project output instead of hourly wages can lead to highly efficient remote employees.
The success of any remote work agreement begins with establishing boundaries and guidelines. Communicating a remote work plan gives you the confidence that your employees will focus on their work and gives them the benefit of clear boundaries and a confident understanding of how much flexibility your remote role offers.
As you consider the structure of your remote work expectations, a few items should be at the top of your list:
While every business runs differently, many will benefit from firm office hours, making communication and collaboration easier. Many remote workplaces establish a working time zone, often reflecting a headquarters or central office, and build work hours around that. However you choose to structure work hours, be sure to develop a plan that allows colleagues to connect in a timely manner and set an expectation for when your employees should be available at work.
One of the significant benefits of going remote is that it provides people with unmatched flexibility. When you set firm boundaries regarding flexibility, your employees will clearly understand how they can balance their newfound flexibility with their work expectations. Setting the standard upfront provides a framework for scheduling their professional and personal obligations.
Your employees should know exactly how to communicate with their managers and peers. You may have multiple forms of communication available to your team, and everyone should clearly understand each and its intended use. Knowing what situations warrant a phone call, sending an e-mail, or using a workplace messaging platform like Slack will help keep your team communicating smoothly and effortlessly.
Respect And Company Culture
Every company has a unique culture that takes time to understand fully, and immersing remote employees in your unique culture can be tricky. Understanding your culture may take longer in a remote environment, but it is possible. You must brief new employees on what to expect. Are you formal or casual? Are you highly driven, or is there room to play? Knowing the nuances of how you operate will help people acclimate, feel confident in their roles, and maintain respect.
Rethink Pay Structure And Workloads
Remote and freelance work often comes with a shift in pay structure. Many companies have found that project-based pay benefits everyone, increasing productivity and flexibility simultaneously. There should be a detailed agreement on handling unexpected circumstances surrounding projects, like greater than expected workloads, taking on additional tasks, and overtime. Understanding how the "what-ifs" will be dealt with is much easier to establish before the work begins.
Each person on your team should know how you plan to manage them. From tracking hours to overseeing project completion or expectations on response times, people should understand your expectations. Regular check-ins with each employee are incredibly valuable. They will allow you to understand your employee better, how they see their role, and where processes and systems may fall short.
Supporting Remote Workers
Once you've established an understanding of adapting to remote work rules, it's time to develop a standard for supporting your employees in those roles. Consider:
- A Remote Work Stipend: Moving to a remote structure will save your company a lot of money. Things like office space, utilities, office supplies, and furniture can add up to a lot. Consider passing some of these savings on to your employees while setting them up for success by offering a stipend they can use to create a productive and comfortable workspace in their homes.
- Allocating Company Resources: Your remote employees should have access to all the resources available within your company. Access to tools, portals, systems, and software will ensure success and should be set up for them before they start. You set your remote employees up for success when you provide the right tools and communicate systems, processes, and workflow expectations.
- Promoting Flexibility: Flexibility is a huge incentive for remote work. By encouraging your employees to utilize their schedule flexibility, they will be free from guilt when using their time for what they need. By focusing on output and not tracking minutes, your employees will be more likely to take the time they need to handle personal matters but also return to work to wrap up tasks or manage e-mail, even if it's outside of office hours.
Now that you’ve worked out expectations, you can hire all the freelancers and remote workers you need. If you enter into a remote work agreement with realistic expectations and established boundaries, your employees have every chance to thrive. Instead of worrying about how they spend their days, you can monitor their work output, develop clear lines of communication, and adjust accordingly.