The coronavirus pandemic forced all of us to adapt to a new way of living, but many of us also had to adapt to a new way of working. Though the percentage of remote workers has been steadily growing for over a decade, the past 18 months saw a massive increase, with over 19.5 million people estimated to be working remotely. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 36.2 million.
As a business owner, with restrictions gradually easing, you’re wondering what the “new normal” looks like for you, your employees, and your business. There are many benefits to a remote or partly remote working structure, but only with proper planning can you continue to get the best from your team.
Remote working can improve employee wellbeing and performance
In March of 2020, with no time to prepare, many business owners were concerned about how remote working might impact their business.
As it turns out, multiple studies over the years have shown that a remote or flexible working schedule increases employee productivity. A 2012 Stanford study showed that transitioning to remote work increased productivity by 13%, and a 2021 study by the Becker Friedman Institute predicted a 5% increase in productivity post-pandemic due to remote working conditions.
Remote workers also report higher levels of job satisfaction, reduced levels of stress and psychological burnout, and are more likely to stay with their current job than non-remote workers.
Some of the world’s largest, and most successful, companies are discovering the benefits of remote working possibilities. Beyond increased productivity and job satisfaction, remote working:
- Gains you access to a greater talent pool when hiring for a new position
- Saves on certain overheads like office space
- Reduces absenteeism
Set clear expectations
The best way to ensure remote working helps, rather than hinders, your business is to set clear expectations. Your employees should clearly understand exactly how often they’re expected in the office and what their responsibilities are while they’re working from home.
For example, here at Myers Clark from September we’re expecting part time employees to be present in the office at least one day a week and full time employees at least two days. When employees are working remotely, they still have duties to ensure they’re engaged, present, and ready to communicate, even when they’re not sitting at their desk in the office. Clear job descriptions, with exactly what duties are expected of which employee, are also a good way to set expectations for remote working.
Communication is key
A successful business thrives on consistent communication. When your team is on the same page, working cohesively towards a shared goal, and collaborating with one another, you’ll see amazing results. But how might your team’s communication change when you’re not face to face, or asking a quick question is no longer as easy as walking over to your colleague’s desk?
A few ways to achieve high-quality communication while working remotely are:
- Video or phone calls: these are an excellent way to break up the monotony of endless emails. When holding a meeting over an application like Zoom, we recommend that everyone keeps their videos on: this helps with engagement and also decreases the anxiety of a speaker not being able to see facial expression and reactions.
- Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams: This is another instance where set expectations are incredibly helpful: will your remote workers be required to send a check-in message on Slack in the morning? Are questions about a client asked in a shared thread or in a private message? Consider what works best for your business and your people, and adopt the remote working model to suit that.
- Team Meetings: At Myers Clark, we make sure that our teams have at least one face to face meeting in the office a week. We’ve found that this boosts team morale, keeps everyone on the same page, and allows senior staff to check-in on everyone in a more meaningful way than a phone call might allow.
Prepare for challenges
Despite all the benefits, remote working does come with some challenges. Over the past year and a half, you might have experienced some of these challenges and had to learn how to overcome them on the spot. If you’ve not dealt with them already, you’ll face them soon and should properly prepare.
For example, remote working will change the way you train a new hire. Your onboarding process will be completely different. You might have to rely on new tools, like e-learning software. Or, you may require an employee in their probationary period to spend more days in the office a week to ensure they get the training they need.
You’ll also need a method for managing workloads. With remote working, you’re no longer able to quickly stop by a colleague’s desk to ensure they have the capacity for a task before you assign it to them. It can be easy for one team member to become overwhelmed with what’s required of them, while another has hours of availability. Team management software and quality communication should solve this.
Challenges aren’t just inevitable; at Myers Clark, we believe that they’re an important step on the Path to Achievement. With the right support – a partner to hear out your ideas, challenge the systems that need to be improved, and hold you accountable – all your ambitions are within reach, and from the comfort of your home office. Learn more about the Myers Clark Path to Achievement here.