With more than four million people working solely from home in the UK, remote working is the new normal.[i] But sadly it doesn’t work for everyone. We’ve all been there, geared up to work from home, and our devices won’t let us connect, or we get frustrated waiting for an email response from a colleague that we could just walk over and get in 10 seconds on a normal day in the office.
So, considering all the things that can go wrong with remote working, how do we ensure remote working actually works for the whole team?
- Don’t force it
Firstly, not everyone wants to work remotely. Don’t treat this changing attitude to the workplace as a way to save on commercial rent. Make sure you have the conversation with your workforce first.
Secondly, it’s important that remote working doesn’t translate as ‘always-on’ working. A remote device doesn’t mean access to email 24-7; a laptop connected to the server doesn’t mean your employee can update a document at 7pm on a Sunday. Don’t let these tools change your workplace culture.
- Provide the tools
Technology has to support, not hinder, workers when it comes to remote working. Devices, like laptops, mobiles and tablets are essential. Similarly, IM or video teleconferencing services are necessary to help ensure good lines of communication exist between colleagues even if they’re miles apart.
You also need to provide technology support for when things go wrong – which frustratingly they can do! If you have a BYOD policy, you need help set them up to be able to use their devices outside of the office. You also have to have someone on hand to provide support as and when things don’t work.
- Engage your workforce remotely
A remote working environment is often a more challenging one. Interacting is tougher over email, and things can get miscommunicated. Ensure the distance doesn’t make the employee in question feel disconnected, or get frustrated at a lack of response. Never let them feel like they’re not working as part of a wider team.
Similarly, some form of face-time is always needed. Remind your remote worker that there is a human behind the email address they send those reports to everyday. Or ensure they know who all the people on the quarterly update call are. Team meetings and organisation days are still important – where possible.
Whether it’s an employee working from home once a week or someone based on a different continent, it’s likely you will encounter remote working. Here at ADP our recent research has found that only half (56%) of employees across Europe remain working in a fixed location, such as an office.[ii] In an increasingly global world, having access to a remote talent marketplace can give you the competitive edge, so it’s time you prepare to do so.
However, in order to ensure you get it right, don’t force employees into remote working, hand them the tools to do so successfully if they choose to and ensure there’s a supportive environment in place to cater for it.
[ii] ADP UK. The Workforce View 2014/15. http://www.adp.co.uk/assets/vfs/Account-102441/WFV14-15/ADP-Workforce-View-2014-2015-Whitepaper.pdf