COVID-19 has transformed the world forever in various ways. This includes the corporate sector. Never had organizations relied on remote working as much as they do post-2020.
For instance, according to a National Compensation survey, only 7 percent of workers in the US had access to teleworking benefits before the pandemic. As per SHRM COVID-19 Business Index, the percentage has since increased to a whopping 64 percent!
And most company leaders are planning to make the shift permanent within their companies. In fact, in a PwC survey conducted of 669 CEOs, approximately 78 percent of the respondents agreed that remote working is likely to continue long-term.
A separate Gartner survey revealed that 80 percent of companies are planning to allow their employees to work from home for part of the time post the pandemic, while 47 percent of employers would allow their staff to work remotely full-time.
Despite the fact that remote working is likely to be the new norm, there are certain challenges this mode of work brings. These include connectivity issues, team communication challenges, or inefficiency due to procrastination.
To make most out of work from home policies, it is imperative to avoid these pitfalls. Here are ways employers can maximize effectiveness of remote working.
1. Use the right tools
Without proper tools, remote working cannot be possible, let alone become efficient.
To connect your employees across the board, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page and is using the same set of tools. The former creates synergy within the team and allows them to work efficiently towards a common goal. The latter streamlines this process and creates a smooth workflow.
There are a plethora of online tools out there. The right one for your company will depend on your company’s size, desirable expenses, and team requirements.
For instance, regardless of what your company size or niche is, you are going to need a video conferencing tool. As per HR Technologist, over 78 percent of businesses use video conferencing tools!
While initially there was a surge in demand for Zoom (especially by students and teachers alike), many organizations prefer Microsoft Teams due to the highlighted security issues of Zoom.
Similarly, you will also need file storage tools for effective sharing of files between different team members. You can choose between Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, and One Drive. To keep tabs on the progress of a team, project management tools like Trello come in handy.
Despite the online connection with your employees, it would be better to make sure that they have all the required office equipment for their work. It will help them concentrate on work and not think about going out to scan or print needed documents. For better use, you can buy them multifunctional equipment and use them after quarantine in your office.
2. Encourage following the work hours
One of the biggest benefits of remote working for employees is the ability to work at their own pace and at their own time. However, this element of working from home can become a nightmare for most employers.
This is because it can get challenging to get the work done within business hours. This inadvertently leads to overall prolonged working hours as employees work off the clock to complete their workload.
To discourage this practice, introduce taking attendance virtually. You can use innovative timesheet software to track whether your employees are working during business hours. This is likely to reduce instances of unpaid overtime.
While employees might not take an issue initially with putting in more hours than they did when working from the office because of the convenience provided by remote working, it is likely to cause dissatisfaction if working from home becomes a norm.
Therefore, it is a smart move to address the challenge in advance and maximize the efficiency of your team within working hours.
3. Consider the well-being of your employees
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has disrupted, and at times halted, the availability of mental health services in over 93 percent of the countries!
When you combine this with the fact that uncertainty and chaos have increased the onset of anxiety, stress, and depression among the masses, you can say that many around the world are finding themselves mentally vulnerable.
This includes workforce as well. Essential workers are forced to tackle the pressure of remaining isolated from their loved ones. Remote workers have to battle the feeling of anxiety stemming from a lack of job security.
To take care of your workforce’s mental well-being, apart from work, focus on relieving their stress as well. An organization can do so by:
- Conducting virtual meditation classes
- Hiring an in-house counselor
- Hosting virtual team-building activities
- Illustrating empathy and encouraging a work-life balance
- Providing breaks from work, just as you would in a normal working environment
There are various companies using this tactic to maximize the well-being and hence productivity of their workforce. Chevron has implemented Employee Assistance and WorkLife Services to offer their employees access to counselors.
Similarly, Culligan Water provides its employees with weekly self-care videos, morale-boosting sessions, stress management activities, one on one health coaching sessions, and live meditation sessions.
4. Retain your workplace culture
Forbes reports that over 50 percent of executives believe that corporate culture has a positive correlation between productivity, profitability, and creativity of a workforce.
As employees find themselves stuck at home and disconnected from one another, a lot of organizations have faced challenges in maintaining their workplace culture. Yet, company culture is an important element and must be retained!
Think of ways how you can stay true to your culture even when separated by COVID-19. For starters, you can replace company dinners with Zoom Happy Hours. Rather than providing your team with unlimited snacks, you can send them a care package once in a while—fostering open communication within your organization.
Take inspiration from the brands around you. Google illustrated that it truly cares about its employees’ safety by allowing them to work from home for an extended time period, right from the start of the pandemic. It also offered employees a home allowance of $1,000 to cover equipment costs.
5. Communicate Well
The need for transparent and timely communication has increased exponentially during the pandemic. Even if employees are working remotely, you might be surprised to know that company grapevines still exist.
To make sure that such communities do not end up fostering misinformation due to lack of transparency, those higher up in the organization must frequently communicate with their teams. Address their concerns about these changing times.
The less time a remote worker spends worrying about things, the more time he/she has to be productive.
This is not much different from protecting the well-being of your employees. But here, communication is based more on how the company is tackling unprecedented times. For instance, companies can provide information about how compensation and appraisal models will be handled during this time.
Considering the monetary benefits of remote working, it won’t be a surprise if the world decides to adopt it permanently even after the pandemic. Certainly, as mentioned in the beginning, results of various surveys point to this trend.
There is no need to be overwhelmed by this change. It might as well turn out to be for the best, for both companies and employees! With the right tactics, every organization can make the most out of remote working policies. Use these five tips and see if it makes a difference to employee work satisfaction and hence productivity.