Since lockdown began we have learnt a lot about ourselves and our companies and one of the things that we have learn most about is remote working.
Some key statistics about remote working before lockdown:
- 16% of companies exclusively hire remote workers.
- Companies allowing remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover.
- 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
- 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
- People who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive.
- Since 2005, the number of people working from home has increased by 140%.
These key statistics were captured in October 2019, a while before the outbreak of COVID-19. They paint a picture of a workforce that is beginning to accept the benefits that come with remote-working and that we are slowly moving towards that future.
Fast-forward several months and the world is in lockdown and as many as 90% of businesses have enabled employees to work remotely. The work from home future has been thrust into our laps whether we were ready for it or not – but this is no bad thing. As evidenced by the key statistics above, there are benefits to working from home and the workforce is in favour of it.
The COVID-19 lockdown has been a huge experiment for many who were previously reluctant to take the plunge. In fact, in a recent study by Owllabs, they found that 66% of those surveyed thought their company was prepared for remote-working and 31% said that COVID-19 was the trigger to begin allowing long-term remote work at their company.
With Government guidance and lockdowns in place, now is the time to establish long-term practices that nurture a long-term remote-working culture.
What is important in nurturing a remote-working culture?
Communication is key: It’s important to ensure that everyone on the team still feels connected and part of the team. You will have already adopted some new technologies but continue to find the best tools to connect your team. Don’t go overboard though, stick with the ones that work for your team and dump the ones that don’t to stay streamlined.
Create boundaries: Be aware of creating boundaries between home and work life and create an understanding and distinction between the two within the team. Employees shouldn’t feel the need to be available 24/7 or during strict hours of business where possible, but performance should be judged on accomplishments. Create a system for sharing wins and creating and tracking targets.
Ensure contracts are relevant: Everyone will have a contract that covers all aspects of working in the office but working from home will require new areas to be covered. New health and safety concerns may need to be addressed. Who is responsible for business broadband use? If a company laptop is damaged, what is the process for repairing or replacing it? The more the contract can clarify, the better.
Mental health: Thinking about mental health is critical. Working from home for a short period of time might not cause too many issues, but when long-term stints are introduced, new tensions are stresses can arise that didn’t exist before.
Think of ways to include the team in non-work-related activities remotely and lift spirits. Virtual coffee breaks, an occasional quiz or game, or even send out care packages.
Encourage workspaces: A dedicated workspace is important for remote-working, encourage a proper setup by supplying monitors and other things that would encourage a dedicated space for work.
The lockdown will not last forever, but the lessons learned from it should. One such lesson may be that being in the office full-time isn’t as necessary as we first thought. Some may think that employees might not be productive at home, but are they always productive in the office? A hybrid model of working from home and working in the office each week is likely to be the result post Covid, with people judged purely on productivity. Creating happier employees who believe in the company and want to give it their best is important and one way of doing that is creating more flexibility with remote-working while making everyone feel connected.
Creating the structures and strategies to function in a new remote-working future is vital and something that should be on everyone minds as lockdown measures ease.