Working Remotely Best Practices
Remote working has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with more and more organizations recognizing the value of allowing employees to work from home. As a result, it is crucial to understand the best practices that can be adopted to ensure that remote working is successful. In this case study, we will explore the different practices and strategies that have been used effectively by organizations worldwide to ensure that their remote working setup works efficiently and productively. We will also discuss the potential challenges organizations may face when introducing a remote working policy and how they can be overcome.
Sooner or later, the COVID-19 pandemic will end, hastening the transition of many businesses to remote work. However, a study by the McKinsey Global Institute confirms what many companies and remote workers already believe will happen: “remote work will continue after the pandemic, primarily in hybrid forms.”
Is working remotely efficient?
Most employers would have objected ten years ago to employees frequently working from home. The main worry of most businesses when it came to remote labour, was productivity loss. How effective and productive can a worker be if superiors and coworkers are not constantly watching over them?
Airtasker studied 1,004 full-time employees across the United States, 505 of whom worked remotely, to understand the efficiency of remote work better. The findings show that remote employees are more productive than their office-based counterparts.
The research revealed the following:
- Compared to those who work in offices, remote workers put in an extra 1.4 days of work per month, or approximately 17 extra hours a year.
- While working an extra 10 minutes daily, remote workers take longer breaks than office workers (22 versus 18 minutes, respectively)
- Without taking into account lunch or breaks, office workers are unproductive for an average of 37 minutes a day, but remote workers are only unproductive for 27 minutes
- Only 15% of remote workers reported that their employer was a distraction from their work, compared to 22% of office-based employees
Although these figures might persuade workers and companies to adopt a work-from-home policy, remote workers also revealed higher stress levels and more challenges in striking a work-life balance than office-based workers. The American Psychological Association claims that, when done correctly, remote employment can raise employee satisfaction.
Working remotely is effective in the long run, but it must be done right, and there may be better options for some workers or companies.
In this case study, we’ll review five remote working best practices that small organizations can use immediately.
The following are the top 5 remote work strategies for small businesses:
- Create a communication strategy
- Purchase the appropriate technical tools
- Have clear expectations and attainable objectives
- Provide social assistance
- A scalable security strategy
1. A scalable security strategy
Team managers must outline the channels to be used for communication, plan frequent meetings and check-ins to keep everyone informed and on the same page, and make it clear whom to call in an emergency to improve communication in a remote work environment.
Your communication approach should focus on something other than work while managing remote teams. To engage employees and promote teamwork, set aside time for unrelated activities, such as online cooperative games, viewing parties, or shared lunches.
2. Purchase the appropriate technical tools
Any advice about working remotely that leaves out technology needs to be completed. After all, technology is what makes remote work feasible, and having the appropriate tools enhances productivity whether your staff works remotely or onsite.
Tools for small businesses doing remote work could include:
- Mobile hotspots
- Video cameras and headsets
- Team chat apps (ex: Slack and Microsoft Teams)
- Video conferencing software (ex: Zoom and Google Meet)
- Cloud storage (ex: Google Drive and OneDrive)
- Screen-sharing software (ex: TeamViewer and Skype)
- Time management apps (ex: RescueTime and Tomato Timer)
- Time-tracking and scheduling apps (ex: Toggl and Clockify)
- Online office suites (ex: Microsoft Office and Google Workspace)
- Task management apps (ex: Asana and Trello)
- Project and team management apps (ex: Podio and Smartsheet)
- Note-taking tools (ex: Evernote and Notion)
Security apps (ex: virtual private networks or VPNs, antivirus software, password managers, and online backup tools)
3. Have clear expectations and attainable objectives
You should be clear with your remote employees about what you expect of them from the outset. Even if your staff is fantastic, they cannot read minds.
Some work expectations to set include:
- Communication frequency
- Work hours
- Individual employee targets
- Team goals
- Work outcomes
- How to measure success
- Hardware and software requirements
Maintaining structure and keeping your remote personnel on track requires setting goals for everyone to work towards. They can prioritize their work, stay on task, and concentrate on getting things done when they are aware of what is expected of them and when
4. Provide social support
It’s hardly surprising that loneliness is another significant disadvantage of working remotely because there needs to be an informal social connection found in office environments (refer back to that chart from Buffer). According to a JAMA Health Forum article, when left unchecked, it can put “individuals at greater risk of early death than obesity, inadequate physical activity, or air pollution.”
Thus, company owners and managers must create an office environment that promotes social relationships among remote employees.
Here are a few concepts:
- To serve as your team’s virtual water cooler, create a dedicated chat room where everyone can discuss anything, including their daily activities, pets, interests, etc.
- Organize online contests or games that your staff may participate in using video conferencing or pictures. Examples include remote work bingo, Zoom Pictionary, charades, and a desk photo competition where the team member with the best-organized desk wins a prize.
- Spend the opening few minutes of your meetings engaging in social conversation rather than getting suitable to the subject to break the ice and give employees a chance to unwind.
- Using Slack or Skype, offer one-on-one assistance through “virtual drive-bys.” Employees experience belonging and being seen in this way.
- In chat channels, meetings, and check-ins, acknowledge accomplishments and celebrate wins
5. A scalable security strategy
Data security worries are prevalent as businesses handle what cybersecurity firm Morphisec called the “biggest work-from-home experiment in history.” It’s crucial to inform your personnel about the dangers they pose to the company network when they log in utilizing insecure endpoints when managing remotely situated teams.
Security must always come first whenever you work with consumer data, regardless of the size of your business, primarily if you work in a regulated field like finance or healthcare.
Take into account the following when protecting data:
Implement a cybersecurity strategy: By asking everyone to read and sign your organization’s cybersecurity policy, you can ensure that all employees understand that protecting data is the company’s and duty. The policy must address the security procedures that staff members are expected to adhere to and the company’s responsibility for assisting them.
Ensure the security of all internet connections: Employees must ensure their connections are safe whether they are connected to the internet from home or somewhere else, like a local cafe. When working outside the house, they should avoid using insecure public networks, change their home router’s default username and password, and set a difficult-to-crack password for their home WiFi connection, among other security measures. If accessing public WiFi is unavoidable, make kids use VPNs to protect themselves from online threats.
Update your antivirus and antimalware software: All endpoints connecting to the corporate network, including laptops, desktops, mobile phones, tablets, and even IoT (Internet of Things) devices, must be running the most recent versions of antivirus, antimalware, and other security programmes.
Practice password safety: Staff members should be aware of the value of using unique passwords for each account and strong passwords. Moreover, consider requiring them to utilize a password manager to securely store their various passwords so they won’t need to remember them to accomplish their duties.
Remote work is here to stay. To survive unpredictable times, you must know how to make uncertainty work for your business. It’s crucial to maintain open lines of communication, set clear expectations, foster trust, provide support, and use the appropriate technology when working with a remote team to achieve the highest level of productivity.