Is Remote Work Getting Stale? Here's How to Freshen It Up Remote work went from a growing trend to ubiquitous almost overnight -- as the novelty of working from home wears off, companies must find ways to keep things exciting.
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For many years, remote work was an amenity. It was something startups and young companies offered as a way to attract top-flight talent and stand out in a crowded job market.
Now? Remote work is an expectation that is transcending the traditional at-home setup. Just look at Hyatt's "Office for the Day" package as evidence of this shift. The hotel chain offers workers a refreshing opportunity to change their scenery and work in a way that benefits their well-being. But better remote working isn't just about being able to afford a private beach — it's about subtly shifting your environment to boost your mood and creativity.
With workers stressed out and stuck at home without access to many of their usual joys, hobbies and external stimuli, it's crucial that work environments feel engaging. Remote work is something most companies can offer at this point — but the good ones manage to keep it fun and fresh.
Keep the cobwebs away
Once you move beyond the notion that remote work equals "working from home," the options for how to spend your day are pretty endless. Just ask yourself: What kind of energy do I need to excel at my current workload? That question should dictate the sort of remote mindset you cultivate within your company.
These pointers that should help you promote better remote working among your team members:
1. Pick up the tab
Show your company's commitment to a fresh approach to remote work by speaking with action and financial investment. Allocate some cash so employees can explore the full spectrum of a flexible and remote setup.
Some companies, like Automattic, the team behind WordPress, have found that a wholly distributed workforce is the way to go. The company empowers team members to work from anywhere, including offering an allowance to set up a more pleasant coworking space with others.
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My company gives employees an annual $2,500 flexible work budget to spend on learning, growing and doing what they love. Depending on each team member's needs, this could look like a new mechanical keyboard, a gym membership or tickets to a conference. We also offer the X-Outpost, a set of co-living spaces that inspire our team members to get away from their usual remote routines and stoke their creative juices.
If you're on more of a budget, public spaces have always provided homes away from home; you can now use them as your office away from the office. Malls, public libraries, lobbies and even airports offer cheap and ever-changing escapes. With so much variety, you might begin to find that certain locations in your local community can serve different purposes for you. Whatever your means of providing remote work options, leverage it to provide your team with new and innovative opportunities.
2. Study, study, study
According to a Deloitte study, 75 percent of companies understand the importance of "creating and preserving" knowledge as the employment landscape evolves over the next 12 to 18 months. To that end, help your remote workers thrive by becoming a trusted resource on the changing workplace.
Do your research and provide an extensive internal list of resources. That could be a list of local cafés or local hubs with reliable internet connections. Or perhaps it involves connecting with other companies that have remote workers looking for buddies. We've added "couch surfing" listings to our internal resources so employees from different cities can visit each other and work in the same space for short periods throughout the year.
Use whatever knowledge you have to help employees transform the remote world around them. By sharing your remote expertise, you can help employees make educated and effective decisions about attacking their remote work responsibilities each day.
3. Get up and pop some popcorn
Often, employees get so caught up with work and life that they forget that moving is even an option. Separate studies by researchers at the University of Michigan and Texas A&M concluded that switching up study locations helped students improve test scores. Your remote protocol can go a long way by encouraging, inspiring and reminding team members to get up and move around.
Shifting locations, even if it's just from the kitchen to the bedroom and back again, can inspire a boost of creativity and get your blood moving around your body. Buffer likes to let its team play "workstation popcorn," a game that requires a participant to move to a new workstation before they can complete the next item on their to-do list.
Remind your team members that they aren't confined to the same couch or chair for the entirety of their workdays. Whether they're going across the house, city or country, encourage remote workers to stay mobile to stay on track.
We might be a world in crisis, but remote working is about more than making do. Finding new places to inspire you, new people to learn from and new perspectives on old landscapes could be the revolution your workplace needs in 2021.