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Remote working can be a great way to give your staff flexibility in a way that saves the business money while increasing productivity across the board.
However, there are a few tenets to take on board if this arrangement is to succeed. If incorrectly implemented, remote working can undermine discipline and erode chances of success.
Allowing your colleagues to work from home hinges on trust. Few individuals want to be constantly monitored by their boss, just as those in charge should be able to rely on workers to complete jobs on their own steam.
If you do not feel your staff have the discipline to remain effective when out of your sight, then a very gradual implementation of remote working might be best for your organisation.
Putting together an effective schedule will greatly support a successful remote working policy. This should be buttressed by face-to-face meetings which establish working time-scales and responsibilities.
Within this framework, key measurable objectives and accompanying deadlines should be made explicit. Ideally, the schedule will be available to view by all parties at all times, alongside a further illustration of how it fits into business in the office.
A member of staff should be able to access the same work-critical tools, resources and systems when working remotely as they do when operating in the office.
As such, bosses need to go to extra lengths by making a thorough audit of who needs what. More than hardware devices, collaboration with IT departments will be necessary to ensure individuals can access and operate the software upon which their roles rely.
Furthermore, IT staff may need to shore up company networks to accommodate an increase in remote users. All platforms and applications need to be working at office-speed levels when being accessed from other regions.
The IT approach to remote working should be wrapped in a solid security solution which can guarantee that workers beyond office walls have the same online protection and awareness as those operating within them. This can be achieved using a small and discrete software client and VPN.
By definition, to remote work involves losing contact. But it does not mean the disappearance of all contact – bosses need to consciously address this aspect for arrangements to remain effective.
A simple way to ensure your remote workers are at least at their work stations, is to let them know that you may ring them on occasions just to check their understanding is clear on one issue or another.
To maintain robust working relationships, organise weekly or even daily video call updates to maximise communication, where a long email thread of conference phone call might create information gaps.
Free tools online, such as Trello, Taiga and ProBoards allow colleagues to work across a common virtual desk in a way that maximises visibility. Each of these platforms is available in app form for Android and iOS.
Out of sight needn’t be out of mind. Often remote workers discover that what began as freedom might turn into isolation, as they fall out of touch with events talked about around the office coffee machine.
To address this, managers need to be proactive through providing workers with regular office updates, expectations and goals. Again, occasional phone calls are effective because they demonstrate a level of personal care that voiceless emails do not. Be sure to offer support and assistance, as opposed to straying into micro-management.
Remote working is often seen through rose-tinted glasses as the ideal way to have the best of both worlds.
The reality can be far different if some major boxes go unchecked. Remote working depends on two parties: the individual and the manager, both of whom need to nurture the arrangement with conscious effort and patience.