Remote working is nothing new, but as more businesses look towards making it an integral part of how they operate, work as we know it looks set for big changes.
It’s not just about technology, either. Moving to a remote-first model requires a complete rethinking of how businesses operate, not to mention a huge shake-up of our relationship with work and how we engage with it on a day-to-day basis. For businesses, taking early steps now can make the transition to cloud-based working smoother and more successful for everyone.
1. Trust your remote teams to succeed
Trust is the secret ingredient to a productive distributed workforce – but beyond this, there are several other key strategies to make remote work a success, says Andy Wilson, global head of media technologies at Dropbox.
This includes learning how and when to communicate with teams, while making sure everyone has the headspace to work on their priorities. Once teams feel empowered to prioritize the tasks they’ve been given, leaders then need to allow team members to work in a way that works for them. Central to this is setting clear expectations and then trusting them to manage their own schedules, while not forgetting check-ins to ensure things stay on track.
2. Put digital support structures in place
2020 brought many of our old work routines abruptly to a halt. While the pandemic will eventually subside, for many, new ways of working will be permanent. Support structures will be an important part of businesses’ new work environments. A successful transition into this new era of work will hinge on how companies keep their people engaged, productive and connected through communication and collaboration tools, says White – though she also notes that the new working normal is likely to bring even more challenges to the table.
3. Re-imagine your hiring process, with tech at the forefront
According to LinkedIn, the number of remote jobs advertised on the platform has increased four times since June 2020. LinkedIn’s research found that remote job postings resulted in a 20% increase in the geographical diversity of applicants.
One way businesses can adapt to this change and build successful remote-working strategies is by re-imagining how they hire and retain skilled workers, says Jennie Dede, LinkedIn’s head of global customer success. Remote work will also lead to a continuation of virtual recruiting.
4. Keep leadership adaptive…
As employees get used to new ways of working, leaders also have to adapt if they want to achieve success with a remote workforce. Leaders should employ more flexibility in their approach, focusing on outcomes rather than just measuring in/out times or managing time. The right toolset can also help leaders maintain company culture, an important aspect that relies on a different leadership approach. This can also positively impact employee wellbeing and staff motivation.
5. …and working styles flexible
Remote working means giving employees more flexibility around how and where they work, helping to restore some much-needed equilibrium to workers’ work-life balance.
One of the important factors employers should consider is flexible scheduling, which might include flexible daily start and end times, time-banking (working more one week and less the next), and split-shifts, which involves working earlier in mornings and later afternoons or evenings, with a larger break inbetween.
Less common but still valuable are things like four-day workweeks, flexible annual leaveand policies that give employees more freedom around how to shift their time around things like doctor’s appointments and children’s schedules, without having to request permission for every change.
6. Recognize the power of empathy
The massive shift to remote working has given leaders a new appreciation for the context in which their people are working. Similarly, employees now expect much more from their employers, including deeper support for their wellbeing, skills development, and personal circumstances.