Remote work is an increasingly popular way of working, with many companies turning to it for increased productivity, flexibility, and work-life balance. Remote work has been shown to have numerous benefits, such as reduced stress, improved job satisfaction, and higher productivity levels. However, remote work requires a different approach to work culture and management to be successful.
One of the most important concepts to consider when working remotely is being remote-first. Being remote-first means that a company approaches work with remote workers as the default rather than the exception. In this article, we will explore the concept of remote-first when you still have an office, its benefits, and strategies for achieving it.
What Does Being Remote-First Mean?
A remote-first approach means that remote work is the default, regardless of whether or not there is an office. Remote-first companies are structured to support remote work, with remote workers having the same access to resources and opportunities as those working in the office. Remote-first companies are built to ensure everyone is connected, included, and aligned in their work, regardless of location.
Being remote-first means that the culture, policies, and communication is built with remote work in mind. This includes using digital communication tools for all communication, holding virtual social events, creating a shared digital workspace, accommodating different time zones, and encouraging flexibility.
What Are the Benefits of Being Remote-First?
There are several benefits to being remote-first, which include:
As mentioned earlier, communication is an essential part of being remote-first. A remote-first approach requires the use of digital communication tools to keep everyone connected and to ensure that remote workers are included in all communication. By using digital tools for all communication, remote workers don’t feel isolated, and there’s a better chance of effective communication.
Remote work has been shown to be much more productive than traditional office work, and remote-first companies experience even higher productivity levels. When employees have the flexibility to work where and when they choose, they are more likely to be engaged and focused on their work. Remote workers also tend to work longer hours and take fewer sick days, which leads to increased productivity.
Greater Employee Retention
Remote work is widely embraced by employees who rate it as one of the most important factors in job satisfaction. Being remote-first means that remote workers have the same access to resources and opportunities as those working in the office. This leads to happier and more satisfied employees, which leads to greater employee retention.
Access to a Global Talent Pool
A remote-first approach means that your company can tap into the global talent pool. This provides access to talented employees regardless of their location, leading to a more diverse workforce.
Reduced Overhead Costs
Being remote-first can significantly reduce overhead costs, such as rent, utilities, and office supplies. With a remote workforce, you can reduce or eliminate the need for an office, which can lead to significant savings.
Strategies for Achieving a Remote-First Culture When You Still Have an Office
If you still have an office and want to be remote-first, there are several strategies you can adopt to achieve it.
Embrace Video Conferencing Video conferencing technology has come a long way in recent years and is a vital tool for remote workers to stay connected with their colleagues. However, it’s not just for remote workers. If you want to be remote-first, you need to treat video conferencing as the default way to connect with colleagues, whether they are in the same office or a different timezone. Encourage your team to turn on cameras during meetings and use tools like virtual backgrounds to make it more fun and engaging.
Communicate Everything Online
For remote-first companies, all communication is done online. That means that everything from updates on projects to the latest news about the company is shared in a digital format. If you still have an office, it’s easy to fall into the trap of relying on in-person meetings or watercooler chats. However, this can create an “us vs. them” mentality between remote workers and those in the office. Instead, use digital communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep everyone in the loop.
Hold Regular Virtual Social Events
One of the most significant challenges of remote work is the lack of social interaction. When you work in an office, you have the opportunity to chat with colleagues over lunch or grab a coffee together. Remote workers miss out on these opportunities, which can lead to a feeling of isolation. To combat this, consider holding regular virtual social events, such as team lunches or after-work drinks. This helps to build camaraderie and fosters a sense of connection between remote workers and those in the office.
Create a Shared Digital Workspace
A remote-first company relies on technology to keep everyone connected and working together. One way to achieve this is by creating a shared digital workspace. This could be as simple as a shared Google Drive folder or as complex as a bespoke platform that includes project management tools, communication channels, and a knowledge base. By having a centralized digital workspace, you can ensure that everyone has access to the same information, regardless of where they are located.
Think About Time Zones
If you have remote workers in different time zones, it’s essential to think about how this affects communication and collaboration. You don’t want to be scheduling meetings at 2 am for your Australian team or expecting your US-based employees to be online at midnight. To be remote-first, you need to be mindful of time zones and work to ensure that everyone has a fair shot at participating in meetings and projects.
Encourage Flexibility for All£ Employees
Finally, to be truly remote-first, you need to embrace flexibility for all employees. This means offering your office-based employees the same flexibility as your remote workers. For example, allowing them to work from home one day a week or giving them the option to work from a coffee shop. By offering flexibility to all, you create a more egalitarian culture and reduce the divide between those in the office and those working remotely.
Invest in the Right Tools and Resources
When it comes to being remote-first, investing in the right tools and resources is essential. This includes investing in high-quality video conferencing tools, project management software, and communication tools. You should also invest in training for your employees to ensure that they know how to use these tools effectively.
Focus on Results Rather Than Hours Worked
One of the benefits of remote work is increased work-life balance. Remote workers tend to have greater control over their schedules, which can lead to improved productivity and work outcomes. When adopting a remote-first approach, it’s essential to focus on results rather than hours worked. Encourage your employees to work on their own schedule as long as they achieve the results they are expected to deliver.
Set Clear Expectations
A key component of being remote-first is setting clear expectations. This includes setting clear goals and objectives, as well as defining what success looks like. By setting clear expectations, remote workers will know what is expected of them and what they need to do to achieve their goals.
Foster a Culture of Trust
Finally, being remote-first requires fostering a culture of trust. This means trusting your employees to get their work done, regardless of their location. It also means that your employees trust one another to work collaboratively and effectively. Building a culture of trust requires open and honest communication, regular feedback, and transparency.
Being remote-first is about creating a culture where remote work is the default, regardless of whether you still have an office or not. By embracing video conferencing, online communication, virtual social events, a shared digital workspace, time zones, and flexibility, you can create a work environment in which everyone feels connected and valued. It takes effort, but by making these changes, you can set the stage for a more collaborative and productive work environment, regardless of where your employees are located.