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An Employer's Guide to Remote Work

Learn How to Crush Boundaries and Ignite Ambition

Last Updated: March 20, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Employers can benefit from remote work strategies that emphasize productivity, customization, and tools for efficient management.
  • It's important to promote employee well-being in remote work settings by encouraging energy-restoring activities.
  • Remote work can aid business scaling by cutting costs, accessing global talent, and enabling quick workforce adjustments.

When the world went into lockdown, many businesses turned to remote work.
Some companies were already operating remotely and easily maintained their operations—but most were tossed into a new work environment without any knowledge or preparation.
Wondering which organizations could pivot successfully and make remote work a sustainable business model?
In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of remote work so you can discover how to boost productivity, scale your business, and turn your company into a community.

What industries are best suited for remote work?

Business models that rely on communication or technology can transition smoothly into remote work. But, besides that, most work that’s done in a traditional office setting can be done at home as well. Remote work really is a game changer for people and the economy.
From software developers to sales reps, the key to going remote is the right set of tools and tech. So, let’s talk about the ways you can use remote work for your business.

How can employers use remote work to boost productivity?

Thanks to flexible schedules and customized work environments, remote work has become the key to striking that oft-sought work-life balance.
And here’s the kicker: happier, less-stressed workers are likely to be more productive.
Some employers might worry about what’s done with company time. The surefire way to boost productivity is to understand the benefits of remote work and nurture your employees’ well-being.

Help your workers customize their environment

First, give workers a flexible schedule. Sure, you may require some employees to be available during business hours or to carve out time for meetings. But, for the most part, allowing remote workers to choose when they log their hours is a reasonable freedom to give.
Remote workers can also customize their work environment by:
  • Adjusting lighting, temperature, and noise levels to their preference
  • Setting up their workspace to cater to specific physical needs
  • Working in a coffee shop, library, coworking space, etc.
To aid in this customization, some employers set a budget for providing home office equipment (such as laptops, desks, or computer accessories) to remote workers as needed.
You can also continue to maintain an office space for employees to go to if they wish to work among their peers. In fact, several studies show that employees have less stress and more focus when working from home or in a hybrid work model.

Foster an efficient remote environment

One key takeaway from the above-mentioned studies is that successful remote employees already know how to reduce personal distractions and maintain focus. However, it’s crucial for employers to encourage this behavior by adding certain tools to their toolkit:
  • Remote work policies: Outline rights, responsibilities, and more in a remote work policy. You can easily add this as a section in your Employee Handbook. Or, if you need something more comprehensive, write a separate document to outline everything from eligibility for remote work to data security and technology requirements.
  • Communication apps: Communication is crucial when you don’t meet face-to-face. Find an application that works best for your team’s work ethic and reach out regularly to keep workers engaged. Praise them for their accomplishments and, if there’s an area they need to focus on, give constructive feedback so they stay on track.
  • Project management systems: These programs help teams track progress, delegate tasks, and efficiently reach their goals.
  • Activity monitoring software: Some programs track clicks and keystrokes as evidence of activity, making it easy to hold employees accountable if there’s a dispute about their progress. However, state laws on the legality of activity monitoring may vary. So, check your local laws before you implement any activity monitoring.
  • Data security: This is essential in today’s digital landscapes. Stay up to date on the best practices for securing devices, software, and communication channels. For example, security protocols such as VPNs can secure wifi connections.
Whether you’re running a small business or a large operation, it’s essential to implement these best practices for remote work. With the right documentation and software, you’ll put your employees in a great position to meet—or exceed—your business goals.

Encourage employee well-being

It’s true that remote work has already been shown to improve workers’ well-being, but employers still have a key role to play.
For example, some remote workers have trouble removing themselves from their job and taking meaningful breaks. Employers should be mindful of this and take steps to encourage a healthy distraction.
What is a healthy distraction? It’s a break that leaves someone feeling energized and ready to regain focus.
In 2011, academic researchers Fritz, Lam, and Spietzer discovered certain activities either drained or restored people’s energy levels at work.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that drinking a coffee or going to the bathroom (i.e., common break activities) didn’t impact vitality.
Instead, workers felt energized after taking a break to learn something new or engage in the company culture. Encouraging these types of activities during working hours may lead to more productive workers. For instance, employers can:
  • Subscribe to an online training academy or other resources
  • Encourage employees to work on learning material while in between projects
  • Plan training opportunities (e.g., “lunch and learns” or product demonstrations)
  • Prioritize team-building activities (e.g., water cooler conversations and virtual events)
  • Ask employees to reflect on their work by sending out office surveys
In the end, employers must remind remote workers to be mindful of their energy levels and mental health. By providing opportunities to engage with healthy distractions, employers can further support their employees’ well-being.

How can remote work help businesses scale?

Still not convinced you can leverage remote work to scale your business? Let’s unlock the secrets of cutting costs and gaining access to qualified workers.

Cutting costs

Employing remote workers can reduce operating costs ranging from office space to office supplies. By operating remotely, businesses can redirect these funds to other initiatives (e.g., research and development). This is a big win for startups and small businesses with limited budgets.
You may also see fewer unscheduled absences from remote workers. Employees can care for a sick family member or make an appointment without taking a full day off work. Fewer absences can create significant savings for a business.

Increasing access to talent

Remote work crushes geographical boundaries, allowing businesses to recruit workers with specialized skills and expertise from around the globe.
With rapid onboarding and offboarding, remote work also enables companies to be flexible when scaling up or down. This saves time and money because there isn’t a need for physical relocation or complicated infrastructure adjustments. Plus, being able to adjust your workforce quickly also speeds up your response to market fluctuations.
Remote workers also report feeling more valued, better engaged, and less stressed, which may contribute to employee longevity. In fact, many companies find having a distributed team actually reduces staff turnover.
One perk of remote work, either full or part-time, might be that employees feel encouraged to stay with a company longer than they would otherwise.

What are the challenges of remote work?

Everything has its challenges, and remote work is no exception. But if you know what to expect, you can be prepared. Then, you’ll have nothing to fear!

Communication barriers

With limited opportunities to meet face-to-face, a remote workforce should take extra care to prioritize effective communication.
It’s crucial for managers to set clear expectations around communication protocols and deliverables. For example, clarify which channels people should use and set guidelines for response times.
Managers should also be in frequent contact with remote workers to monitor their progress and diminish feelings of isolation.
You should also provide detailed instructions or documentation to explain a role and its responsibilities.
Plus, finding the right project management system and file-sharing platform will help your team access and collaborate on projects.

Team building

Remote workers might struggle to build relationships with coworkers.
Many may hesitate to start a conversation with someone whom they don’t work with on a daily basis, and they can’t bump into each other in the hallway for a random chat.
But it’s helpful to provide opportunities for team building. After all, a connected team is more likely to take a vested interest in their work and come up with creative solutions.
Team-building activities like these can foster a sense of camaraderie, collaboration, and connection among remote workers:
  • Virtual games and challenges
  • Online team lunch meetings
  • Workshops and training sessions
  • Volunteer and fundraising initiatives
  • Virtual team appreciation events
Don’t forget to tailor your team-building activities to your team’s interests and personalities. Ask for feedback and adjust accordingly.

Potential distractions

Employers have to trust remote workers to get their job done in whatever type of environment they’re working in.
While it’s challenging to manage potential distractions, these strategies can help you mitigate the issue:
  • Have a goal-oriented approach. Clearly communicate your expectations about work hours, availability, and productivity. By focusing on outcomes rather than micromanaging their activities, you’ll empower your team to take ownership of their work and maintain focus.
  • Schedule regular check-ins. These meetings are an opportunity to talk about any concerns, answer questions, and give support. This keeps your workers engaged.
  • Encourage self-care and create a positive work culture. Healthy employees are more productive, and an inclusive environment fosters a sense of belonging. This all helps increase motivation.
  • Lead by example. Model the behavior you expect from your team by being professional and productive in your own remote work. This sets the tone and encourages your team to follow suit.

Empowering success in remote work

Congratulations on embarking on the journey of managing a remote workforce!
While it may present unique challenges, in the end, it offers tremendous opportunities for success. Embrace the possibilities for flexibility and tap into a diverse pool of talent beyond geographical limitations!
Yes, managing a remote workforce requires adaptability and continuous learning. But, if you can keep an open mind and trust in your team, you’re sure to find results.