The benefits of remote working are often touted, with companies of all sizes and industries looking at ways to maximise productivity, fuel innovation and provide an overall balanced approach to work and home life. A mobile, flexible and distributed workforce is a reality for many organisations and gone are the days when nine to five hours and in-person meeting are necessary. With initiatives such as National Work from Home Day taking place encouraging remote working, Stephen Duignan from LogMeIn explains how to nurture a successful working from home culture in your business.
Be all inclusive
For most employers the majority of roles within the business have the opportunity for some flexibility and remote working. Try not to class employees between those who are ‘office based’ and those who are classed as ‘remote workers’ who work away from the office. Applying the same policy to everyone in the business, irrespective of their job title or situation levels the playing field. This removes the feeling of being judged or separated by work location and makes flexible working feel more acceptable to employees.
Creating a new working practise
It’s important that the whole organisation has the same understanding of what’s expected when they work remotely. By setting this out upfront, employees recognise best practise and the fear of misunderstanding is removed. Creating a regular schedule and coupling those policies with technologies that enable flexible working, will help manage the process and lead to a more productive culture. Part of the process is putting trust into employees and believing that teams will be as hard working at home, as they would be in the office.
Technologies for flexible working
Working remotely means that employees need access to the common systems, tools and process that are used on a day-to-day basis. Staying connected while working remotely is not only possible, it’s easy to do and gives employees a much needed work-life balance to be desired. Having a connection to these resources truly allows employees to communicate quickly, efficiently and effectively with co-workers, clients anywhere. Whether its laptops and smartphones or online collaboration technologies and video conferencing, it’s important to deploy a solution or various tools together in order to meet the needs of the business.
There are technical considerations, to be made too. Different collaboration solutions have different strengths and weaknesses, and some will be more appropriate for different circumstances than others. You need to investigate the capabilities of any solution in detail to make sure it best matches the needs of your specific business. If a large portion of remote employees are regularly collaboration with client, prospects or vendors outside of the organisation, there’s little point in investing in a collaboration system whose major strength is internal collaboration or the other way around.
Lastly it’s important to listen to employees’ needs. While an IT department can be a great resource, they aren’t the ones hosting multiple conference calls, carrying out demos or attending meetings with colleagues. All tools must be simple to use by the employees and simple to manage by the IT department. These tools should be fast and highly responsive across all the platforms that the user might use (desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone). Finally, and most importantly, the core functionality of collaboration tools must be there – screen sharing, audio, video, collaborative sharing, and interactivity and most importantly easy to use!
Collaborating effectively with remote workers can earn businesses serious competitive advantages, as employees feel more in control of their working day. Working away from the physical office can be more productive, as there a likely to be fewer interruptions. By promoting cultures that value collaboration and equipping teams with the right tools – business are sure to reap the benefits. As well as employees who see shorter or no commuting times and a greater work-life balance. The bottom line for making remote working a success in any organisation is to choose the right tools, enable the right devices and provide appropriate training.
Stephen Duignan is VP global marketing at LogMeIn.