Remote work has revolutionized the way that businesses around the globe operate forever. Businesses that embrace a remote-hybrid model save $11,000 per employee per annum and enjoy a significant boost in employee retention and motivation.
However, remote work isn’t without its challenges. Some employees feel isolated when working from home (WFH), while others struggle to connect with corporate culture outside of the office.
Businesses can respond to these challenges by embracing a people-centric approach to remote work. A people-centric approach to managing a remote team can improve communication, develop cybersecurity, and help businesses bolster their bottom line.
Culture and Collaboration Tools
Going remote doesn’t mean business leaders can overlook the importance of culture. A strong company culture is critical to the overall success of remote teams and hybrid employees, and the business as a whole. One of the major predictors of employee productivity is their level of wellness, and an increasing number of employees place well-being at work on the same level that they do their salary. This is why it is essential to have systems in place that support WFH employees.
Businesses that have gone remote can enhance their operations by utilizing Software as a Service (SaaS) tools that are designed to support remote/hybrid employees. For example, a business that relies on Microsoft Teams can improve cross-department collaboration by utilizing SaaS programs like:
Most of these SaaS programs can be integrated into existing platforms like Teams or Slack and are designed to boost remote culture. For example, SaaS service note-taking app Notion helps staff with task management, project tracking, and mapping. It can also be integrated with most major remote software, meaning staff doesn’t have to open unnecessary tabs to make use of the service.
Businesses that are concerned about losing connection with their employees should consider hosting co-working spaces. Co-working spaces are the perfect compromise for firms that have closed their offices but still want to touch base with employees. While at a co-working space, folks can meet up and work side-by-side without feeling obligated to come into the office 5 days per week.
Remote work presents serious challenges to any company’s cybersecurity. Remote work security risks include:
Unsecured networks (low-security home wifi and public wifi);
Unsecured devices (personal devices like PCs, phones, and tablets);
Malware and targeted phishing;
Poor data security management.
These risks are exacerbated when folks WFH. Personal devices can be exploited by malicious actors and staff may be more likely to open phishing scams when they’re working from their own home office.
Businesses can address vulnerabilities by hosting cybersecurity training events and increasing their security. At a minimum, businesses that utilize remote work should supply each of their staff with a secure VPN and should require two-factor authentication for all business-related passwords.
Cybersecurity training events may be met with resistance from some staff who would rather be working on their daily responsibilities. Increase engagement and uptake by ensuring that your training days are relevant to staff. For instance, all employees should know how to recognize a phishing scam, but some can be spared from zero-trust training.
Remote work is inherently more profitable than working from an office. Working remotely saves businesses money by lowering their overheads, reducing absenteeism, minimizing turnover, and improving cross-departmental communication. Going remote also offers businesses greater flexibility and can help companies access a wider, more diverse talent pool.
Remote businesses can maximize their cost-efficiency by investing in training and education for staff before they go remote. This will minimize the amount of time folks spend searching for software solutions and ensure that all employees use SaaS programs to their fullest potential.
Remote staff should also be given access to the latest automation software. Automation software takes care of monotonous, repetitive tasks like sorting emails, scheduling meetings, and organizing daily workflows. This gives staff more time to focus on creative tasks that improve the business's bottom line.
Businesses can further improve their cost-efficiency by providing the right tools for folks who WFH. Employees’ day-to-day productivity will be severely undermined by poor internet connections or inadequate hardware. Businesses that foot the bill for office expenses will benefit from increased long-term productivity, as staff will have access to a high-speed network and all of the equipment they could possibly need.
Remote Employee Support Programs
Remote employees need more support than traditional, office-bound workers. Although 47% of Americans prefer a remote-hybrid model, many staff feel socially isolated and guilty about their ability to WFH. This can lead to a vicious cycle of overworking, burnout, absenteeism, and poor work culture.
Managers need to take a communication-heavy approach to leadership in the age of remote work. A daily email may have been overkill when working in the office, but checking in on a day-to-day basis is vital when folks WFH. Ideally, these check-ins should build employee engagement and start meaningful conversations on instant messaging channels like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Businesses that have gone remote should review their operations and onboarding process, too. Every element of company policy should be reviewed and edited to better complement remote-hybrid workers. These changes should strive to build connections between remote teams and foster digital socialization.
Companies that have reduced their costs by going remote should re-invest the saved funds into remote-worker benefits. Businesses that provide robust benefits to staff who WFH can preempt issues like burnout and social isolation. At a minimum, these benefits should include free access to mental health professionals and funding for wellness programs like gym memberships, recipe boxes, and mindfulness apps.
Business leaders can further improve remote work culture by actively highlighting employee achievements. Folks higher up in the organizational structure can publicly praise staff who have hit their KPIs or have achieved a major milestone at work. Business leaders should showcase non-work-related accomplishments, too, and can highlight staff who have achieved goals in their personal lives. This builds a sense of togetherness and helps staff feel valued even when they’re working from home.
Remote work is great for employee motivation and can improve operational efficiency. However, companies should be aware of the challenges that remote workforces face. Pre-empt major threats like cybersecurity vulnerabilities and remote work burnout by investing in the latest tools and tech for remote working. Even small changes, like incorporating a new SaaS program, can have a positive impact on productivity, security, and cost efficiency.