How Employees Can Crush Remote Work and How Employers Can Help Them
Here's a quick guide to succeeding with remote work on both sides of the employer-employee relationship.
There's no doubt that the pandemic and related shutdowns have changed how we work and run businesses. More and more employers are moving their workforce to remote work permanently. Several studies conducted since 2020 have shown that remote work can result in greater productivity overall.
There are approaches that both workers and employers can take to maximize the benefits and positive results of remote work. Here's a quick guide to crushing remote work, whether you're the employer or the employee.
Here are some ways to keep productivity high and burnout low.
Have a schedule
Even though you're working from the comfort of your home, you shouldn't get so comfortable that you can't get anything done. It helps productivity and improves focus if you act as if you're going to an office. Get up, get dressed, maybe hit the gym but do everything by a specific schedule.
It's also beneficial to have a set spot in your house where you can work. It can be challenging to get anything done where you also curl up to watch TV, or where your family may be doing their own thing, opening you up to distractions.
Working from home is still working. Often the first step to crushing a work-from-home routine is playing the part.
When you sit down to get to work, make sure you have all the tools you need to do your job effectively. Many companies have a process of providing their home-bound workers with everything they may need to do their jobs remotely, such as laptops, software and sometimes even a home-office stipend. Part of being organized is communicating to your employer what you need to get your job done well.
Communication also plays a part in working with your team members. It can be easy to feel disconnected from the team when working from home. Utilizing communication tools such as Zoom or Slack can help build bridges between team members and unify employees across an organization, even if they're working in all corners of the country or even the world.
Organizational tools also play an integral role in successful remote work. Project management software programs such as Hive, Asana or ClickUp help remote workers organize their tasks and tick off completed projects.
Related: Organizing Your Home Office
Even as you work from home, you will need to periodically connect with your manager to connect on projects, set expectations and ask questions. Setting a weekly Zoom call with a leader can be beneficial in keeping you zeroed in on goals. Keep track of questions or talking points you may have during the week and take advantage of these meetings with leadership to gauge whether you are on the right track with your work or if something needs to be tweaked.
Being away from the office, you may find it tough to stay involved in various projects. But being a remote worker doesn't mean you cannot take the initiative to help out, give input to leadership or fellow employees or lend your expertise to benefit the team's overall performance. Leadership will want to see that you're willing to engage with your team and with the company's overall mission, even from home. Remaining engaged and taking the initiative just as you would if you were in an office setting reinforces the benefits of having a remote workforce.
So, you have remote workers
Allowing space for remote work is step one. The benefits of allowing for the flexibility of remote work are clear. Employers can expect employees who experience a better work-life balance to have greater job satisfaction. In addition, you cannot overlook the financial benefits of having a remote workforce as a business owner. Many employers found that they could save thousands, if not millions, of dollars in rental overhead by allowing their employees to go fully remote.
Once you decide to go remote, how do you best guide your employees to making this setup as successful as possible?
Related: How to Support Your Team While WFH
Mandate a weekly call with your entire team, even if it's just as a quick check-in, to make sure no one is sitting on any unanswered questions or falling behind in their workload. Use this meeting time to check in with everyone and allow them to talk with one another as well. If there is anything people report missing when it comes to leaving the office and working remotely, it's the connection with their co-workers. Work hard to be the employer that bridges that gap between home and office.
Cross-training can happen naturally in an office setting. People are exposed to their fellow employees and their roles every day. Sometimes, this leads to an organic cross-training situation that can be difficult to duplicate with a remote working situation.
This is not to say that it's entirely out of the question. Make cross-training opportunities accessible by offering continued learning for the whole team during weekly meetings. Play to the interests and passions of different members of your team, even if it doesn't necessarily fall within their exact job description. Also, allow for collaboration across teams.
Just as project management software can be an essential part of organizing one's day from a worker's standpoint, employers need to utilize as many tech tools as they can to bolster their ability to support their workers. Project management software allows employers to track completed assignments, see who may need some assistance and best serve their clients/customers and their employees.
If employers are not clear about what metrics they expect their employees to hit, they can stand to be disappointed in output. Goals for an organization should be clear and defined. Project expectations and organizational goals should be regularly shared and reviewed, so everyone is on the same page.
Remote work will likely only grow in popularity. Even if it doesn't become an immediate standard as the pandemic wanes in the coming months (or even years), some hybrid model of remote work will likely prevail for many businesses. Employees will continue to demand greater flexibility from their workplaces. Similarly, employers will continue to seek greater flexibility from their workers.
The office exodus is a generational touchstone, the likes of which we have not seen since maybe the introduction of the 40-hour workweek in 1940. Like that shift and many others, the pivot to remote work stands to make history. Harnessing the power of remote work and learning how to "crush it" will ensure the benefits continue to outweigh any negatives in the future.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor