The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the move to remote work. According to a Gallup poll, the number of remote workers jumped from 31% before the pandemic to 62% in April 2020. This shift has challenged traditional work arrangements and opened up new possibilities for people, teams, and businesses worldwide. Many companies have adopted a “remote-first” philosophy, allowing employees to work from anywhere, while others see the model as the future of work. However, some companies struggle to sustain their remote-first philosophy when working from an office location. In this blog post, we will explore strategies that companies can apply to sustain their remote-first philosophy while still working from an office location.
Embrace a Flexible Work Schedule
The remote-first philosophy is premised on the idea that people can work efficiently from anywhere they choose. This could be their home office, a co-working space, or even outdoors. Making this a reality means offering employees more freedom and flexibility in their work schedule. This could be in the form of allowing them to work from home or another remote location for a portion of their workweek. Companies can also offer flexible hours to employees, allowing them to start and end work earlier or later in the day. This flexible work schedule makes it easier for employees to integrate their personal and professional lives, resulting in increased productivity and job satisfaction.
In remote-first companies, communication is critical. Remote employees need to feel they are part of a team, despite not sharing a physical workspace. Companies need to prioritize communication by implementing communication tools and processes that facilitate collaboration and teamwork. These tools can include video meetings, instant messaging, and project management software. Companies can also host regular team meetings or social events to strengthen team bonds, even if the team is working remotely. When working from an office location, it is essential to maintain these communication channels to ensure that remote employees are not left out of important conversations or decisions.
Focus on Results
The remote-first philosophy places the emphasis on results rather than the number of hours worked or time spent in an office location. Companies need to continue to focus on results when working from an office location by setting clear goals and expectations for employees. This approach ensures that team members are held accountable for their work, regardless of where they are working from. Managers need to avoid micromanaging team members and instead focus on setting goals, providing feedback, and measuring progress.
Offer Additional Perks
Remote work often comes with perks such as the ability to work from anywhere and a more relaxed dress code. Companies can offer additional perks to their employees working from an office location to make up for some of these lost advantages. For example, they could provide a comfortable and relaxed work environment, such as a comfortable work chair or customized lighting. Additionally, some companies have started offering wellness programs, on-site food options, and flexible time off policies to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Remote work requires self-motivation and the ability to manage one’s time effectively. Companies need to empower their employees to work independently and provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. This can include training on remote work best practices or providing opportunities for professional development. When working from an office location, it is essential to give employees the autonomy to manage their time and work in a way that suits them. Companies can also try to innovate new techniques for collaboration through online collaborations and software such as Google Docs or other document repositories.
Reconfigure the Workspace
JLL’s “Reimagine Workplace” survey found that 40% of workers feel that their current work environment does not support their health and well-being. As working from anywhere becomes increasingly popular, companies may need to reconfigure their offices to better support remote employees. This could involve a redesign of communal spaces to allow for better collaboration and social interaction, or incorporating remote workstations that offer employees private and secure work options. The workspace could include pods for work, conference areas and other specialised spaces that may enhance collaboration on projects.
Rethink Leadership Strategies
In a remote-first philosophy, leadership strategies must evolve to accommodate employees working from anywhere. Leaders need to ensure they demonstrate strong leadership to remote teams through effective communication, setting clear expectations, and respect for cultural diversity. Leaders would also institute a culture of trust and give their teams the autonomy required to make decisions and manage their work. These leaders would work on the development of organisational cultures that embed innovation and embrace remote working, blended it with the traditional style of working.
Invest in Technology
Remote work only works when supported by the right technology. Companies need to invest in technology, which enables them to work flexibly without sacrificing productivity. This includes quality audio and video conferencing software, project management tools, adaptive fire-walls or VPN setups and access to all the relevant software their employees need for their roles. Company-wide application of cloud or hybrid technologies may allow teams to move seamlessly, enabling remote members of teams to work or collaborate seamlessly and allow for secure, digital storage of every document or vital work project.
Monitor Employee Engagement
Working remotely or from an office location requires strong communication skills and engagement, which may prove hard to achieve in some cases. Remote-first philosophy calls for team leaders and managers to monitor employee drive, goals, and engagement. It is essential to be proactive and anticipate potential engagement gaps that may arise, thus striving to mitigate or preventing them entirely. Leaders may consider instituting reward programmes or incentives to encourage employees who excel at remote work.
The remote-first philosophy has become increasingly popular, given the pandemic’s shift and the need for flexible working arrangements. Companies need to embrace a flexible work schedule, prioritize communication, focus on results, offer additional perks, empower employees, reconfigure the workspace, rethink leadership strategies, invest in technology and monitor employee engagement to sustain a remote-first philosophy while working from an office location. Sustaining this philosophy will result in motivated and engaged employees resulting in enhanced productivity and a positive work environment.