Companies across the globe are extending work from home privileges, considering employee feedback in designing return-to-work plans, and re-imagining offices altogether. Notably, some major tech companies like Twitter recently announced permanent remote work options for employees. Infosys plans to keep 33%-50% of its workforce permanently remote. Even when offices start re-opening, Square employees will be able to work from home permanently.
So how are these companies making it work? How are they maximizing remote work benefits while navigating the challenges? Here are some tips:
Success Starts with Your Environment
The right environment, physical or cultural, sets a tone for workers, making it easier to be productive and deliver value. Employees need to have amenities that allow them to work and feel comfortable. Sometimes this means giving employees a stipend to purchase items and tools that would make the remote transition easier. Google, Twitter, and Shopify are among the companies allowing employees to work from home indefinitely, and they are paying remote-work stipends to accommodate that. Examples of expenses for some employees might be a new office chair, a locked file cabinet for sensitive files, or a wellness app subscription.
On the cultural side, employers need to consider the types of practices that will promote wellness and value diverse voices. One of the work from home challenges is maintaining an appropriate work-life balance at home. Unfortunately, having work available at all hours of the day is tempting for some people. Employers should support employees as they re-prioritize and adapt, checking in regularly to evaluate workloads and changing needs. Working from home can also negatively influence diversity, equity, and inclusion, which has becom. Workplaces that were toxic when in-person could have that toxicity amplified in a virtual setting if people are not comfortable using their voice and speaking up. Company leaders should work to develop inclusive virtual policies and procedures.
The Right Technology
Bigger companies, especially large tech companies, have the advantage here. Tech tools make remote work possible. There are a few tricks to optimizing this in favor of productivity. Smaller companies might follow advice from Wall Street Journal writer Joanna Stern who suggests employees save bandwidth by reducing video quality, organize Chrome tabs for specific task groups, integrate applications where possible, and use bonus hotspot data to change scenery.
For companies that already had effective technology tools in place, it may be worth refreshing staff on how they can be used to optimize remote work. One example could be cloud-based storage – many employers already had this in place, but it is unlikely that cloud storage was being used to its fullest capacity. Additional training might prove useful for tools like this. There are several other tools that can encourage brainstorming, creativity, and innovation – virtual whiteboards, project management software, and high quality webcams to name a few. One fun example is PinItTo.Me – a free, easy-to-use tool that facilitates collaboration as if scribbling on a Post-In. Teammates can write their own notes, drage, and drop them onto a virtual corkboard. Several technologies already exist that can add value and bring out the best in teams and individuals; it’s just a matter of finding which ones are the right fit.
the Right Amount of Coordination and Communication
Before the pandemic, most jobs were not optimized for remote work. Virtual environments rely on slower, asynchronous communication, and they limit spontaneous face-to-face communication. Communicating through a computer screen makes it harder to read socio-emotional undertones and nonverbal cues. Employers can mitigate these challenges by creating new organizational processes, engaging team members to facilitate a shared sense of ownership. When and where possible, teams in a company ought to be organized so that employees on a particular project are either all remote or all in person for consistency.
The transition to remote work is also an opportunity to evaluate operations. For instance, every company has various interdependencies between departments or teams, where these folks rely on one another to complete their tasks and move forward. In many businesses, sales and marketing teams work closely together to meet key performance indicators and hit targets. When going remote, it is a chance to look at these coordinated activities and see what opportunities there might be to streamline tasks without compromising quality or expertise.
Overall, there are remote work transition success stories from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. How companies approached this from the get-go, how they managed along the way, and how they continue to evaluate and improve will set the tone for operations well into the future. Are you considering what the future of work looks like for your company? Looking to grow your remote team? Job searching for remote work? Check out One America Works to see how we can support you.