How to Implement Remote Working In 7 Steps
As a business, implementing remote working in your company culture can not only help your business to grow but can help your people gain that work-life balance. Reducing presenteeism, absenteeism, and giving your business a competitive advantage.
According to the Office of National Statistics, by the end of 2020, 50% of the UK workforce will be working remotely.
This statistic doesn’t surprise me, working remotely, either from home or from a co-working space can provide numerous benefits to both the business and their people.
However, the struggle comes when knowing how to implement it, and whether it should be implemented in the first place. The following questions often crop up when leaders are thinking about implementing remote working in their company cultures;
- How will our business operate on remote working?
- How will our customers respond to a remote working operation?
- Will all of our team be able to work productively if we implement remote working?
- Will collaboration drop if we start remote working?
- How will we know our team are working when they are remote?
Some of these questions are completely valid if you’re new to remote working. However, some of these questions also reveal that you may not be ready to implement remote working because you don’t trust your team to do their work in the first place.
If you trust your team and want to work in a more productive way as a business, then you’re definitely ready to implement remote working.
It’s important to remember that remote working doesn’t have to mean full-time remote work. It could mean you implement two or three days per week to remote work to help increase productivity and focussed time on projects. This often allows you to continue to keep connected with your team and ensure they still feel connected to the company.
Always think about what works best for your people and the business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so be flexible and think about how you really want it to work.
1) Start with feedback
When you start thinking about implementing remote working, the first thing you must do is discuss this with your team and get their feedback.
Holding an open meeting about what you’re thinking about in terms of remote work can help to start the process of understanding any potential problems that may arise, and if they have any suggestions for how it may work.
By doing this across the company, you also get to understand operationally how remote working may impact specific departments or roles.
2) Decide on a trial period
At Liberty Mind, I’ve helped many businesses implement both flexible and remote working, and one of the best ways we support them in making it successful is by holding a trial period.
A trial period for your remote working idea, enables you to fully road test it before you completely roll it out across the organisation and make those major changes.
During a trial period, you get the opportunity to get consistent feedback from your team. Identify things that work well, or need to be worked on, and get a taste for how customers may react to the shift.
To fully see if remote working works for your business, I would recommend a 90 day trial period. This gives plenty of time for people to get used to the new remote working, and provides opportunities for real problems to arise.
3) Conduct remote work training
Before you fully implement remote working into your company culture, it’s well-advised that you provide clear training to your employees, so they are confident and able to work effectively, and productively. Teams should be provided training on;
- The expectations of remote working
- How to manage workload and be productive while being remote
- Software and project management systems
- Communication methods
4) Prepare your operations
Not all processes in your business may be ready for remote working. Therefore during your trial period, you must identify if there are any existing processes or operations in your business that do not fit well with remote working. For example, a customer service worker may need the authority to issue refunds or exchanges without requesting this from a manager.
5) Outline expectations
Outlining expectations is fundamental for remote working to be successful.
Your team need to know how you expect them to communicate about projects or urgent updates, and how you wish for them to keep you updated.
Creating a handbook for your remote workers can help to clearly outline all these expectations, and provide them with the perfect ‘how-to-guide’ for any questions they may have while they are remote working.
Your remote work handbook should include;
- Health & Safety guidelines for remote workers
- Details on forms of communication and how they should be used
- Working hours
- Customer etiquette
- Company equipment policy
- Connectivity issues – for example, what happens if their WIFI goes down?
Also ensure to make your handbook engaging and fun to read. Black and white word documents never get read and simply look far too complex.
Brand up your remote working handbook and make it fun, so people use it!
6) Equip your team
From providing desks and chairs to laptops and phones; you may want to look at how you can provide physical equipment to support your team in being the most productive and effective when remote working.
If they are working from a home office, perhaps provide a budget for them to create a space that helps them to feel focussed and happy.
Alternatively, you can provide a hot desk at a local co-working space where they could perhaps visit now again. This is ideal for those workers who can’t work from home, but still need to work away from the usual head office.
7) Create a remote work culture
If you’re looking at having your team working remotely for long periods of time, it’s essential you continue to provide a culture, so they feel engaged with the company, and continue to feel part of a team.
Hosting virtual culture activities is one way to keep people engaged, but also continuing to provide regular training, and learning and development is also key to keep people happy and productive while remote working.
For your remote company culture consider;
- Virtual events
- Communication channels for ‘water-cooler’ chats
- Further training and development opportunities
- Wellbeing check-ins
Using these seven steps, you will be able to implement remote working quickly and ensure it truly works successfully for your people and your business.
Before fully implementing remote working, it’s always important to be clear on the pros and cons of this practice, as it doesn’t work for everyone. This includes both business and people. Some people simply do not enjoy remote working. Here are some of the key benefits and disadvantages you should think about.
The Benefits of Remote Working
- Working from home allows employees to cut their commuting time. Helping them to save money and unproductive hours.
- With no geographical barrier you can hire employees in any part of the world.
- Employee wellbeing is enhanced as they create an environment that works for their working style.
- Costs are dramatically cut on office space.
- You can attract more talent from all over the world, and aren’t limited by location to who you need to hire.
- Improved focus and less distractions will increase productivity.
The Disadvantages of Remote Working
- It demands both the organisation and the employee to be organised with processes and communication streams.
- For some employees spending long periods of time on their own can lead them to feeling lonely and isolated.
- Quality and time still needs to be measured to ensure that people are not taking advantage of the benefit, or on the other end, doing too much work and shifting towards a burnout.
- Collaboration may be difficult when your team is unable to physically come together.