With the pandemic remaining in the news and the ongoing chaos surrounding in-person workplaces (and the mandates those might entail), it is becoming increasingly apparent that creating the infrastructure and offering options for remote work is a smart choice for almost any business. While remote work presents several challenges, the versatility and added retention benefits alone often make it a worthwhile endeavor.
Having operated a business that is almost 100% done in the digital space and through working within an industry that centers on communications, I have seen firsthand how remote teams have become not only more commonplace but almost a standard business practice across the globe for companies both large and small.
In this article, I will share with you some insights as to why building out options for remote workers is a wise strategic decision and how you can best begin to establish remote teams of your own.
Remote work expands capabilities and enhances retention.
If you consider the theoretical work pool that you have between a remote workplace and an in-person workplace, from my perspective, the numbers are not even comparable. Even if you lived in the center of New York, you’re still comparing millions of theoretical employees to billions. The point is remote work options allow you to choose from a much broader workforce than if you were forced to only draw from people geographically nearby.
You also have a much more versatile workforce when you have the option of people going remote. Furthermore, your workforce will be able to stay productive no matter what the world throws at you because you’ll have an alternative to simply halting all work if you are forced to close the physical doors.
Retention is another significant benefit of supporting remote work options. Companies are finding it harder and harder to keep employees around and to attract new ones; however, when polled, 76% of employees said they wanted “their company to make work permanently flexible in terms of schedule and/or location,” according to a Harris Poll (via CNBC). By offering remote options, you can begin to accommodate employee demands in this new economic reality.
Building effective remote teams can be challenging.
However, putting together an effective remote team is much easier said than done. It will often take several weeks and typically months for a company to really create an online workflow and workforce that operates smoothly. There are three aspects you need to focus on to better facilitate this transition from a dysfunctional mess to a well-oiled machine: communication, accountability and standardization.
1. Foster good communication. Your primary concern and the foundation for your team’s eventual success or failure is effective communication. You want to make sure you have your team working on the correct apps, they understand when and how to communicate with one another and that their communication is effective. That last point is worth touching on first.
When working remotely, there are some unique traits you should consider. The ability to write messages concisely and with clarity is a massive boon to remote teams. Far too often, people confuse being verbose with unnecessary or overly explanatory details with being clear. When writing, large blocks of text will usually shut down the reader’s ability to easily comprehend what is being said. You want your team members who can communicate quickly and clearly. Good communication will also help you to avoid frustrating mistakes that can cost you both time and money.
2. Build an atmosphere of accountability. You also want to set a standard for how and when remote workers should be in touch. By keeping expectations clear, you can ensure the workplace stays moving forward and does not get bogged down with miscommunications or waiting on replies. You might need to set unique working hours among your teams to facilitate collaboration for those in various time zones. Let it be known that you have certain expectations for how and when communication will happen and repercussions for when it does not.
3. Create standardization criteria. You will also want to create a standard method of working that both allows the employees the freedom to work as they need to, but that best allows for easy collaboration and communication. You will likely want to establish a standard set of communication apps and work tools to ensure work both within and among teams can happen without hiccups. The same goes for how you name files and projects; you want people throughout the company to quickly understand what others are referring to.
Take the time to get it right.
Creating an effective remote workforce is not going to be an overnight success. You will need to start small, experiment with various tools and methods and troubleshoot until you find a standard operating procedure that best works with your business model. The more you get the foundations of remote work correct, the more you can be sure the teams you build in the future will be able to function with minimal oversight and input.