To say that the pandemic has significantly affected our lives is the understatement of the century.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, we’ve seen everything around us change, and one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced was adapting to a new way of getting work done.
Although remote work was hardly a novelty, it was the pandemic that led to the large-scale transition to a remote workforce.
Companies in different industry sectors with an exclusively office-centric culture had no choice but to become more flexible and temporarily embrace remote work for the very first time.
In doing so, many of them came to realize that remote work can be a lot more than a temporary measure employed in times of crisis.
The Benefits of Remote Work
What started out as a necessary action meant to protect the health and safety of workers, ended up being regarded as a potential long-term solution that could provide numerous benefits for both employers and employees.
Even if it’s difficult to predict what the post-pandemic workplace holds, the one thing we know for sure is that remote work is here to stay. And indeed, there are plenty of reasons for businesses to implement a remote work policy in the future, whether fully or partially, apart from the obvious health and safety requirements.
This model can prove advantageous when a company is going through a major remodel, when you’re trying to reduce overhead costs, or when you want to provide more freedom and flexibility to your employees, helping them reach higher levels of productivity and satisfaction.
However, the switch to remote is not always easy, especially for companies that rely entirely on a traditional work model.
This is why, before making the leap to remote work, one has to be ready to overcome the obstacles and challenges that come with it.
So, we’ve put together this short guide that can help you ensure a smoother and safer transition to remote work for everyone:
Provide the Necessary Tools and Equipment
As an employer, the first thing you have to focus on when getting ready to make the transition is to address the technical aspects of remote work.
Since you’ll be moving all or most of your operations in the virtual environment, you have to make sure your team members are provided with the necessary tools and equipment to carry on their daily duties effectively.
Your employees should be able to easily communicate and collaborate with each other, even if they’re not physically present in the same space.
That’s where tech tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, Zoom, or Trello come into play to facilitate the smooth running of business operations.
You have to choose adequate tools and software that match your business requirements and meet employees’ demands.
Encourage Communication and Feedback
It’s not uncommon for remote workers to experience a feeling of isolation and detachment due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with their peers and managers.
Since they no longer have the possibility to pop into their manager’s office whenever they want to discuss an issue or have a quick word with a co-worker when they need help, communication can become hampered.
The most effective way to avoid communication breakdowns is to encourage open communication and regular feedback.
Conducting meetings where you ask your employees to share their thoughts and express their opinions freely, and actively listening to their concerns can put an end to poor communication.
These virtual meetings should take place regularly, allowing you to give and receive feedback from your team members on all types of work-related matters.
Establish Clear Expectations
Just because your employees will be working from home, don’t expect them to be in front of their computers 24/7, ready to answer your questions or solve last-minute issues.
It’s also possible for them to relax a bit too much, considering they get to enjoy a greater level of freedom since they don’t have to come into the office every day.
None of these situations is ideal when working remotely, but a balance can be achieved by establishing clear boundaries from the get-go and setting out expectations with regard to work hours, deadlines, frequency and timing of communication, and so on.
Therefore, everyone will know what they have to do, as well as when and how they have to do it.
Provide Support and Guidance
Regardless of your efforts to make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible, chances are most of your team members will still experience a certain level of stress during the process.
Besides, different people handle changes differently, so it’s normal for some employees to adapt faster than others.
You have to be aware of these potential issues and, as the leader, you should provide the support and guidance each of your workers requires in order to minimize the stress and challenges caused by the transition.
You can do that by showing empathy toward your workers, asking about the obstacles and problems they face, helping them find viable solutions for their issues, and, if need be, providing professional assistance.
Implement Remote Team Building
It’s a lot harder for remote employees to create bonds and feel like they’re part of a team.
However, when traditional team building activities are not an option, you can always turn to remote team building to help everyone feel more connected and establish stronger relationships.
Remote team building can look like using a separate platform where workers can meet up and chat about non-work-related topics, play games, share tips, and so on.
Or it can be a bit more elaborated by working with an agency that specializes in organizing virtual team-building programs for remote teams.
Either way, team building should be a part of your company’s culture.
Although transitioning to a remote work model comes with its fair share of challenges, using the right strategies, like the ones we’ve mentioned above, can make the switch a lot smoother for all parties involved.