Making remote
working work

The benefits of remote working
At Virtua, we’re championing remote working. In our experience, it’s hugely successful and providing our employees with the autonomy to have control over how and where they work aligns closely with our culture and values.

Since COVID-19, when most of the UK had no choice but to work from home, there’s been a realisation that collective remote working is not only possible but can be beneficial for both employers and employees. In fact, when questioned by the BBC, fifty of the biggest UK employers disclosed they have no plans to return all staff to the office full time.

For workers, it seems the shift has been widely welcomed too. The proportion of employees planning to work mostly from home rose by 12% between April 2021 and February 2022. And more than three-quarters (78%) of employees regularly working from home report an improved work/life balance.

But the plusses don’t just equate to a more balanced lifestyle. 52% also claim they have fewer distractions and 47% say their wellbeing has improved.

So, the benefits of remote working are clear to see. Additional advantages include reduced commuting time, greater flexibility, boosted motivation, and businesses can enjoy lower staff turnover rates as well as fewer costs associated with running a communal workplace/office space.

Most importantly though, companies need to be aware of what employees now want. Research suggests that remote workers have more positive feelings towards their companies than those who have no policy for working offsite. And 74% of employees with a remote working option would be less inclined to leave a business. In the same report, 47% say they’d move to an organisation offering a hybrid working model.

Tips for remote working

Let your people decide
Let’s be clear, there are some positions where remote working just isn’t possible. For that reason, you need to be absolute from the outset about which roles your remote working policy includes and omits. Ensure you do this to avoid questions or disputes further down the line.

While it’s important to implement a remote policy that works for your specific business, it’s good to give your staff a say, where possible. Individuals who feel they have control over how and where they work feel valued by their employer and achieve greater work/life balance.

You may need your people in a particular environment for at least some of the time. And remember that not everyone prefers to be at home all the time. That’s where a hybrid working policy can help. Providing your people with a space to come together for some of their working hours but trusting them to work remotely as well, can be a winning combination for lots of today’s businesses.

Provide the right resources
Help your employees to be successful when working away from the workplace by considering everything they’ll need. Can you help with ensuring a reliable internet connection? Do they have access to equipment and technology for staying connected with colleagues, customers and suppliers?

Maximising your teams’ workspaces – whether in an office or at home – means there are no excuses for reduced productivity. Ensure you’re offering a complete ‘toolbox’ for supporting your staff to achieve operational excellence whatever their location.

Instil trust
Micromanagement can be tempting when staff are working remotely, but trust’s the key component for making remote working effective. You need to feel assured your people will continue to do the job they’re responsible for and, in turn, your people need to know you trust them carry out their roles while not physically in a workplace.

Allow freedom for people to do their jobs independently. Lay out any expectations and set objectives and targets that you expect people to meet. According to PwC, employees who feel they can act with autonomy tend to perform better, are more committed and satisfied in their role.

Approaches to encouraging trust at work will differ according to the nature of your business and your culture. From listening and coaching, to showing encouragement and appreciation, take some time to consider what building trust in your workplace looks like.

Communicate and collaborate
Regular and consistent comms are essential when working remotely. This closely links with the provision of resources and being sure that you’re giving people the means to easily contact colleagues and customers from wherever they are.

As a business leader though, it’s also down to you to encourage collaboration between co- workers and especially when they’re not actually face-to-face. This could mean working with marketing and/or HR, as well as team leaders to devise a plan for consistently communicating. This could be as simple as arranging weekly updates via video call, rolling out apps such as Slack, organising virtual or in-person socials, or creating a hybrid working policy which brings everyone together at regular intervals.

However you choose to stay in touch, it’s vital you do so. Not only will it promote a team feel and keep everyone aligned with shared goals, outcomes, and progress, but it encourages employee engagement, wellbeing and prevents employees feeling isolated. Again, take some time out to consider the best solution for your organisation and its people.

Increase management availability
It’s widely believed that the best leaders in business are those who are visible. Of course, the rise of remote working makes this a little less straight forward than it once was. Open door policies were simpler when there was a tangible door between you and your staff!

Whatever your approach, be mindful of remaining in contact with your employees. Make sure people can still connect with you for advice, reassurance, guidance or sign off. Remote working can be challenging, so aim to be available for questions or concerns. If you’re diary’s busy, consider dedicating time once a day or week to having colleagues book time with you. Or a specific interval each week which is reserved for a team catch up or Q&A
session, hosted and led by you.

Make sure you’re still around to inspire, encourage and monitor employee development. As much as autonomy is important, people still want to feel part of a team and that they’re heard, valued, and kept in the loop when away from the office environment.

Love it or hate it, remote working’s here to stay. So, for employers, it’s about finding options for remote working to help your company, and employees, to thrive.

At Virtua, we’re working with lots of companies on developing a strong EVP and working preferences that attract and retain the best talent in today’s competitive market. Interested to know how we could help you? Get in touch.

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