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Remote working is hard, even for people who enjoy it and have been doing so for years. If you’re used to the office, the commute, and the takeaway coffee, it can be challenging to reconfigure your life into one where your bedroom is your workspace.
Chances are, you’re currently facing an extended period of remote working — perhaps even a permanent stretch. So to make things simple, we’ve collected four things we wish we’d known before we started working remotely to help both workers and bosses excel at their roles from home.
For the secrets to managing remote collaboration:
When we consider the remote working challenges, we often look at them from a personal and productivity perspective.
However, rather than just worrying about whether or not your colleague is pulling their weight or if you can be productive outside of your usual working environment, employees should also be concerned about how exposed the business is to external threats.
It’s crucial that as a remote worker, you do your bit to educate yourself about cybercrime and stay vigilant of common threats, while business owners provide their staff with the necessary training and tools to combat efforts to infiltrate the business.
As new scams develop, businesses will need to find more long-term solutions for tackling cybercrime on top of providing adequate protection in people’s homes such as secure Wi-Fi networks and comprehensive firewalls. Tools such as VPNs and proxy servers are strong ways businesses can keep cybersecurity at the forefront of staff’s minds every day — putting security in their hands rather than making it an invisible comfort blanket.
In addition to security, employee wellbeing and mental health should be just as much of a concern for any business making its remote working operations full-time.
Mental health, in particular, is a significant issue in the workplace and a concern that has only further developed throughout the pandemic. Permanently remote businesses need to find a way to compensate for the loss of personal interaction and community that many people will miss.
Alternatively, businesses need to be aware of the positives that come from working remotely and see how they could be further integrated into the business's structure.
In a scenario where workers react negatively to remote surroundings, businesses need to find ways to replace what's been lost and keep their teams healthy. Many companies have found significant success with programs to improve physical health (gym memberships, cycling schemes) and mental health (providing app subscriptions, replacing social interaction with virtual meetings).
An excellent way to get a pulse on your workers is with a staff survey during the first few weeks of remote working.
Employers shouldn't use remote working as an opportunity to introduce harsher restrictions or promote a culture of "staying late." A significant number of employees are now working longer hours as a result of working remotely. While that might seem appealing to employers with big projects ahead of them, it is detrimental to the staff's productivity and efficiency.
A healthy work/life balance means something different to everyone. Some workers enjoy logging in before the sun rises and enjoying an afternoon free of emails and deadlines. Others need to take more breaks and are willing to sacrifice their evenings for that time away from the screen.
Both employers and employees should work together to find a balance that works for them. This is where perks such as flexi-time are so important, as they allow people to log in when they’re at their most productive.
Likewise, businesses need to work towards replacing the company culture lost in the absence of office space. Virtual get-togethers are fun for a while, but remote companies should also look to hold physical events for staff to enjoy each other’s company.
For more on how to maintain company culture while WFH:
Workers must have everything they need to thrive in a remote environment. The undisputed MVPs of remote working throughout the pandemic have no doubt been digital tools. From Zoom for more accessible meetings to monday.com for getting our daily tasks in order, it's hard to imagine remote working being as successful as it has been without access to these tools.
Companies need to build on their experiences with these new tools and invest further to allow their teams to collaborate on creative sessions. In this new remote world, tools don't replace human interaction but provide unique platforms for it.
Physical tools are just as necessary. An office where people make do with whatever desks and chairs are lying about isn't one that can function at a high level. Businesses need to invest in giving their employees the space to work to the best of their abilities, adapting what they provide to fit their unique living situations. Comfort is an essential part of work and shouldn't be overlooked just because someone has struggled through the pandemic somewhat efficiently.
For more tips on how to maintain balance and productivity while WFH, click here.
Originally published on September 17th, 2020, last updated on November 3rd, 2021.