Whether it was preferred or necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work is now the reality for many American companies. Not only is remote work dominating present times, but it is poised to become increasingly prevalent in the future. According to a survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 77% of the American workforce has stated the desire to continue working from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over. This shift in work environment preference has not gone unnoticed as many major companies such as Twitter and Square will allow employees to work remotely indefinitely. As a fully remote company for 5 years, Lotus Labs has helped numerous employees and companies optimize their remote work. Through these experiences, Lotus Labs has realized the importance of cooperation between employers and employees. In order to seamlessly transition from on-site work to remote, both sides must effectively shift their functionalities and approach their new work environments with a dynamic mindset.
Immaculate Chain of Communication
The fastest way for employees to become unfocused and unproductive is a vague chain of command. Consequently, employers leading the transition from on-site to remote must ensure that their systems of communication can withstand any distance and time zone difference. Fortunately in today’s technological era, there are many useful tools including easy-to-use easy-to-use video conferencing software like Zoom, real-time messaging apps such as Slack or Flock, shared document platforms like Google Drive, and collaborative project management tools such as Asana or Monday.com. Even with such a wide variety of tools available, company leaders must still devise ways to effectively integrate them together in order to keep the work team connected, organized, and catered to address specific needs. Furthermore, established technology communication channels alone will not guarantee effective remote communication, especially in a time when many employees are working remotely for the first time. In order to address uncertainties stemming from inexperience and the absence of in-person interactions, it is vital for companies to cultivate an open work culture where employees are encouraged to verbalize their concerns. Allowing employees to speak more candidly about their day-to-day obstacles and adjustments to remote work will create a culture where employees feel heard, stay productive, and remain accountable, even from far away.
Prioritize Building Trust In Employees
Before leading a transition to remote work, employers must be willing to avoid biases from previous work experiences because conforming to typical office norms is unrealistic. For starters, employees will no longer conglomerate in one location to carry out all of their work. As a result, they will be in sole control over how much and when they work. While this lack of structure may sound concerning, employers have reason to embrace remote workers’ newfound autonomy. After concluding a two-year study, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found telecommuters had productivity levels equivalent to an entire extra day of work per month. Additionally, many other studies have also corroborated the notion that remote workers are consistently more productive than office workers. While it is important to ensure that employees are disciplined, heavy supervision shows a lack of empathy as each employee has vastly different home circumstances affecting their day-to-day work habits. At the end of the day, each employee knows what works for them the best, so allowing them to customize their own schedule will translate to optimal productivity. What employers should do is delegate results instead of tasks. By clearly communicating expected results instead of scrutinizing procedures, employees and employers will set each other up for success.
Disclaimer for Remote Employees
While transitioning from work at the office to work from home is a tedious process, there are several no-brainer measures that must be taken. Because it is unlikely to enjoy sustained remote productivity without making daily checklists, practicing good time management, and having a work schedule (among other measures), the general population of remote workers is aware and already implementing these measures. However, besides these common sense steps, Lotus Labs has determined several less obvious tips pivotal to remote work success.
Optimizing The New Work Environment
One of the largest problems newly transitioned remote employees face is effectively budgeting their time now that do not have to conform to a work schedule. While working remotely is significantly more liberating than the office setting, home comes with many distractions that can result in spurts of unproductivity. However, instead of vehemently steering clear of these distractions, it is more worthwhile to embrace these interruptions as perks of your new work environment. The first thing you should be aware of as a remote worker is realize that you no longer have to conform to the nine to five mindset. Your window of work can now take on any convenient form. Having the option to finish your work early and have the afternoon and evening off or take an extended midday break for leisure means that some “distractions” like doing errands or talking to your family members can and should be integrated into your schedule. When you work at an office, you are required to prioritize the company’s needs, but while working at home, you can prioritize your own daily needs and take breaks from the monotony of work. Customization and creativity does not have to stop at just scheduling either. For instance, almost everyone has a home office, but not many people take advantage of the fact that their new work environment does not need to conform to work standards. While using massage chairs or listening to music out loud would likely be frowned upon in a normal office setting, at home there is no reason not to maximize your comfort as long as you are still able to work at a high level. Even staying at home office is not a necessity as you can change up the scenery by working at a co-working area or coffee shop for a day. Ultimately, the overarching theme is that your remote workday is more customizable than ever before, and you should feel free to experiment with new routines and time allotments. Taking advantage of your newfound autonomy requires a different kind of diligence and consistency, but as long as you devote yourself to improvement each day, your productivity will be optimized.
Prioritizing Social Interactions
Now that you have sole control over the course of your workday, one facet that you should prioritize is social interaction. Especially if you have previous experiences in an office, chances are that you actually miss all the small talk and coffee breaks you used to have with your coworkers everyday. Since social interaction is a fundamental aspect of human nature, it is vital to mimic the social aspects of the office as much as possible and set aside time to simply be human. While remote interactions have some shortcomings compared to in-person interactions, technology and initiative can bridge these gaps. From setting up slack channels for water cooler conversations to zoom calling coworkers, there is no shortage of ways to reach out to your coworkers even if you are hundreds of miles apart. Coordinated group activities are an additional way to add some fun to a typical work call. For example, to begin quarterly meetings Lotus Labs employees engage in a virtual show and tell. Even though the participants of these meetings are calling across 3 continents, simple light-hearted activities bring everyone together and give them a work memory besides job assignments. Additionally, when applicable, face to face interactions should be prioritized as these build stronger relationships by allowing you to get to know your coworkers as people and not just voices on the other end of a conference line. Ultimately, cultivating a culture where coworkers genuinely care about each other is vital because rapport among work team members is crucial to the overall team success.
Whether you are an employee or an employer, switching to a remote setting requires a fresh perspective and commitment to change. Not only is it unreasonable to have office expectations for remote work, but it is counterproductive. Telecommuting comes with a variety of advantages, and employers should allow their workers the flexibility to experiment with these new perks to establish personally effective workflows. As the future remains uncertain, the certainty that traditional work structures will start to look more remote is becoming increasingly solidified. If and likely when the time comes for companies to offer their work remotely, a system where employees and employers look out for each other must be prioritized.