How to make remote working more effective?





Posted by Indu Goel on 30 August, 2020





Working remotely is one of the ways to work flexibly, this includes working from home or anywhere else away from an employer’s premises.



Online communication and collaboration tools have enabled remote working to be easier. In the recent times, many employers are allowing employees to work from home or working remotely. In fact, some companies hire professionals and freelancers who work entirely remotely even in different countries or offer flexible working hours.





Some people may think working remotely is convenient and comfortable but other people may differ. It has it's own numerous advantages as well as challenges.



Advantages to offer:

  1. Increase in productivity
  2. Ability to hire talent from distant locations
  3. Reduced overheads (including rent, operational expenses)
  4. No morning and evening commute (saving time and money, and reducing stress)
  5. Improved work-life balance. (this is arguable, but some surveys suggest it has increased staff satisfaction while as some suggest that it has not)


Some of the challenges:

  1. Limited space in the house, difficult to have a dedicated work space
  2. Mental health risks because of isolation and lack of regular face-to-face interaction with colleagues, clients, or other members of the profession
  3. Problems with home life impinging on work life, and vice versa
  4. Possible risks to confidentiality, privacy and the safety of customers or clients
  5. Many employees complain of working for long hours
  6. Not everyone is an effective user of technology


Working from remote impacts engagement between the employer and employees and it is joint responsibility of both the entities to understand the challenges and limitations.



Responsibilities as an employer



First, companies need to assess what positions and business functions can work effectively from remote and draft a policy accordingly. When someone decides to work remotely, ensure that the arrangement is discussed and surely agreed with the team (preferred to be explicitly documented). Everyone understands what the expectations are, these might include the approach towards remote working and selection of complete or hybrid remote working models. Clearly, define the hours and days to be working remotely and times of the days need to be available via call on various collaboration platforms like google teams, skype, phone call and emails etc.



Companies need to state the kind of equipment and tools to be offered to the employees and training of software tools should be provided to facilitate effective use and enable effective working. Onboarding ceremonies should be discussed clearly.



Measurement of productivity and job insecurity is a big concern shown by remote workers. Having a explicit policy, mechanism, or framework in place on how an employee’s productivity is measured will benefit the company in improving overall environment. This policy is needed because many managers are habitual of traditional ways of working and are uncomfortable with remote working. Arrangements should be benefitting both the employer and employee.



It is understandable that the new ways of working cannot be supported with legacy processes, and infrastructure.



Other than employee engagement, important consideration for employer is having relevant IT infrastructure in place. Working from outside the office premises risks ICT security for example – connecting to public Wi-Fi or using their personal devices may allow hackers to penetrate the office network.


ICT security is a lengthy topic and I may not be able to cover it here.



Responsibilities as an employee



You will be spending a lot of time in your home office so thinking about ergonomics is a priority. Having a dedicated room/desk/corner, where you can sit comfortably solely for work, will help you concentrate more. Keep all essential items within your reach. If you will be doing a video conferencing it means you are inviting people at your home so be prepared for proper lighting and background and if your house is near a busy location, make sure you have a good quality noise cancelling microphone. If you live with family or roommates, be transparent with them about your expectations during work time, especially when you are in calls/meetings with colleagues, customers, and partners.



It is a bit challenging when you are working remotely to have good professional relationship with others at office. It is not like you can go for coffee to socialize. Building relationship while working remotely takes more intention and require productivity. You will need to find the best way to communicate your questions, comments, or suggestions. All communication become easier if you have a good relationship with co-workers.



Schedule your daily work routine, -to put it simply, -do what you would do in the office. Follow a certain timetable, structure your breaks, and in general, create routines. This will help you stay more focused and keep your energy at a good level. Being regular and sticking to your working hours in the same way makes you more productive. You are expected to work for specific hours per day if you need to change this plan for personal reasons, discuss it with your manager first. Let your team members know when they can reach out to you throughout the day and be available to them – they will be there for you, too.


Staying online is important to keep connected with your team and colleagues. Check your e-mail and messages regularly to receive your team’s requests and questions. Keep your calendar updated and get into meetings with your camera and mic on. If you face issues with any of your primary tools, reach out to IT or other department to work on quick solutions and inform your team leader about it.



Internet connection should be secure and fast. Always follow all internet security guidelines carefully. You need to be vigilant when working in public areas. Client confidentiality must be your top priority and do not connect to unreliable network or use your personal laptops for official purposes.



There are plenty of other distractions while working remotely that you should be aware of. Limit your distractions whether it is scrolling through social media or doing house chores. It will be good if you separate your office work from home. This will help you to focus and commit your time to your tasks.



Sometime working remotely can affect your mental health and may lead you to the anxiety and depression. Stay connected with your teammates and managers, share your thoughts and ideas with them. Welcome their feedback to improve your performance and feel free to discuss openly and communicate your concerns. It may improve your work and make good relationship with others.



CONCLUSION



Working remotely can offer great opportunities for employees as well as for employers in terms of work-life balance, staff satisfaction and productivity. Having clear expectations and a plan before getting on this style of working will ensure that professional responsibilities are met.





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https://www.agilemanagementworks.com/remote-working-evaluation.html