Companies can find value in a remote workforce

What are the advantages of “Remote Work”?

Is remote work just a luxury for your employees, or do such workplace models offer real benefits for companies? 

Studies say that your company can see a real advantage from remote work scenarios.

  • “Remote Work” is a real desire for the young, digital generation and a powerful argument in recruiting. In an international study by Buffer & AngelList , it was found that 98% of those surveyed would like to work remotely. The reasons given are more flexibility, no commuting and more time for the family.
  • In an article by Forbes they point out four great reasons why a remote workforce is better for business.
    • Remote workers are more productive
    • You can draw from a larger talent pool
    • You will be able to reduce costs
    • Remote workers are healthier
  • Inc. Magazine makes a great point in defining the difference between remote work and working from home. Essentially Working from home is a break from the office where an employee works removed from the office and their coworkers. Remote work requires different workforce capabilities and well-planned communication, collaboration, and knowledge management technologies. Oh and bandwidth.

What are the challenges of remote work?

Working from anywhere does not guarantee satisfaction for your company and your employees. Remote work brings with it several challenges that you have to deal with:

  • The lack of personal contact, cohesion, collaboration and communication within your company can suffer. This is caused by an insufficient digital workplace plan.
  • A real or perceived two-tier society may arise between the “office” and the “homeworker.” This issue arises when a well-planned Culture of inclusion strategy is not in place and advocated.
  • In a corporate culture that was previously based on the presence and control of employees, the introduction of remote work can cause uncertainty. Leaders must understand that they do not monitor their employee’s activities minute by minute or day by day for that matter. The focus must be placed on your employee’s ability to deliver the value their role requires.
  • Contact Hella Creative Solutions to learn more about the challenges your company may face with remote work digitalization.

How to activate your remote workforce

How do you manage to understand these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of flexible workplace models?

Define which employee roles are suitable for “remote work.”

Working together with your professional departments, determine which areas of responsibility, teams or positions are suitable for remote work. Make clear, understandable rules. When everyone knows who is entitled to remote work, when and why, envy and competition between employees are avoided.

Basically, areas are suitable in which work results can be measured qualitatively (e.g. project goals) or quantitatively (e.g. accepted calls in a call center), and the work is digitized to a high degree.

With the right frameworks, process and governance, work is possible from almost anywhere for any “desk job”: Even in the HR department.

Determine the framework

Extend your employees’ internal guidelines and employment contracts with the necessary passages. Questions regarding workplace equipment, the cost of office supplies and electricity and insurance must be answered. Software solutions enable employees to easily request their office absences so that superiors and also colleagues know (via the automatic calendar entry). This makes the process transparent and involves all employees.

Also, it is essential to make arrangements for working hours and breaks during remote work and to determine how often or at what times the employees have to be on site. Such regulations provide security for everyone involved because they understand what is expected of them.

Investigate whether target agreements and performance assessments need to be adapted to the new situation. A standardized training plan (onboarding) for new employees is also mandatory for companies that offer location-independent work.

Equip offices and home workplaces adequately

Ergonomic office furniture is required by law. With remote work, it is fundamentally technology and software equipment that decides whether work is fun and enjoyable. Your organization will need the right software tools for communication (e.g. video telephony and chat) and collaboration (e.g. project management solution and knowledge database) before it will see the productivity benefits of remote work unfold.

Changes may also be necessary for your physical workplace. After all, the employees need a place while they are on site. On the other hand, your offices should not be left empty half of the week. An open space office is a modern and workable option. Here the employees present can flexibly choose a place, form teams and quickly get into a conversation.

Train your managers

Leading a team is never easy. If the group is spatially distributed and only meets every now and then, it is a unique challenge. Remote workplaces high demands on a manager’s communication, moderation and motivation skills.

Train your managers for this particular task. Please support them during conflicts in the team . Help you formulate suitable target agreements with employees. Employees who work outside are often at a disadvantage when it comes to transportation. Your successes are seen less. A standardized system for performance assessment helps managers to recognize and promote talent.

Promote personal contact between the teams

Videotelephony and chats are excellent, but they never replace personal connection. The fewer colleagues work in the same office, the more critical individual meetings are. Organize regular team building activities with the specialist departments.

The biggest challenges for employees

According to an international study by Buffer and AngelList, communication, collaboration and loneliness are among the three most significant problems with remote work. It is all the more important for HR and companies to work on (digital) measures that enable smooth collaboration.

Frequency and effort depending on how many employees work outside and how often. This can range from the weekly status meeting followed by the white sausage breakfast on Monday morning to the annual company event where colleagues from all continents are flown in. Not insignificant detail on the side: The budgets for pizza, beer, DJ and hotel accommodation should be firmly planted!

Hire employees you trust

Even if this point comes last: it is perhaps the most important. Your employees have to deal with the challenges of remote work – high personal responsibility, individual social isolation, a high degree of digitization. You, on the other hand, have to trust your employees to do their best without the boss’s watchful eye.

A lack of trust in employee motivation is one of the main arguments that companies use against remote work. However, if you do not fully trust an employee, whether he is sitting in your office or not, the question may be allowed: Why are you hiring him at all? Contrary to all fears, the average productivity of employees in the home office is increasing, as studies show.

In the selection process, make sure that candidates have the necessary character and skills to be able to work independently and regardless of location. By the way, most of them know whether they are “the type” for the home office or prefer to see their colleagues every day.

After an experiment with 250 employees, half of the subjects decided to go back to their office desk after a few months at home. The direct question in the interview, “Would you like to work remotely and why (not)?” is whether a candidate is suitable for remote work or not.

So it depends on how you do it. Work out an individual strategy and plan that fits your company. Test remote work in one or more model teams, evaluate the results and optimize them. Then roll out the concept for your entire company.

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