To say that the pandemic has significantly affected our lives is the understatement of the century.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, we have seen everything around us change, and one of the biggest challenges we faced was adapting to a new way of working.
While remote working was not a novelty, it was the pandemic that led to the large-scale transition to remote working.
Companies in various industries with an office-only culture had no choice but to become more flexible and embrace temporary remote working for the first time.
As a result, many of them came to realize that remote working can be much more than a temporary measure in times of crisis.
The benefits of remote working
What started as a necessary action to protect workers’ health and safety was eventually seen as a potential long-term solution that could bring numerous benefits to both employers and employees.
While it’s hard to predict what the post-pandemic workplace will entail, the one thing we know for sure is that remote working has become a necessity. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons for companies to adopt remote working policies in the future, in whole or in part, beyond the obvious health and safety requirements.
This model can be beneficial when a business is undergoing major remodeling, when you are trying to reduce overhead costs, or when you want to give your employees more freedom and flexibility so that they can achieve greater productivity and satisfaction.
However, the switch to remote is not always easy, especially for companies that are completely dependent on a traditional work model.
This is why, before making the leap to remote working, one must be ready to overcome the obstacles and challenges that come with it.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to help ensure a smoother and safer transition to remote working for everyone:
Provide the necessary tools and equipment
As an employer, the first thing to focus on when preparing for the transition is to address the technicalities of remote working.
Since you will be moving all or most of your activities in the virtual environment, you need to ensure that your team members are provided with the necessary tools and equipment to perform their day-to-day tasks effectively.
Your employees must be able to communicate and collaborate easily with each other, even if they are not physically present in the same room.
That’s where tech tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, Zoom, or Trello come into play to facilitate smooth business operations.
You must choose appropriate tools and software that fit your business requirements and meet the demands of the employees.
Encourage communication and feedback
It is not uncommon for telecommuters to experience a sense of isolation and detachment due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and managers.
Because they no longer have the ability to go to their manager’s office when they need to discuss a problem or speak to a colleague as quickly as they need help, communication can be hampered.
The most effective way to avoid communication breakdowns is to encourage open communication and regular feedback.
By holding meetings where you ask your employees to share their thoughts and express their views freely, and by actively listening to their concerns, you can put an end to poor communication.
These virtual meetings should take place regularly so that you can give and receive feedback from your team members on all types of work-related matters.
Creating clear expectations
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 problems.
It is also possible that they relax a little too much, as they get more freedom because they don’t have to come to the office every day.
Neither of these situations is ideal when working remotely, but a balance can be achieved by setting clear boundaries and expectations from the start regarding work hours, deadlines, frequency and timing of communication, and so on.
This way everyone knows what to do, when and how to do it.
Provide support and guidance
Regardless of your efforts to make the transition to remote working as smooth as possible, chances are most of your team members will still experience some level of stress during the process.
Also, different people deal with change differently, so it’s normal for some employees to adapt faster than others.
You need to be aware of these potential issues and as a leader you need to provide the support and guidance each of your employees needs to minimize the stress and challenges created by the transition.
You can do that by showing empathy for your employees, asking about the obstacles and problems they face, helping them find viable solutions to their problems, and providing professional help when needed.
Implement remote team building
It’s a lot harder for remote workers to bond 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 build stronger relationships.
Remote team building can look like using a separate platform where employees can meet and chat about non-work topics, play games, share tips, and so on.
Or it can be a bit more comprehensive by partnering with an agency that specializes in organizing virtual team building programs for remote teams.
Either way, team building should be part of the company culture.
While the transition to a remote working model comes with its fair share of challenges, using the right strategies like the ones we mentioned above can make the transition a lot smoother for all parties involved.