Working in a Coronavirus world: Strategies for productive remote working

With Coronavirus firmly upon us, organisations are shifting to remote working to avoid major disruptions to their businesses. However, fears still remain around what remote working might look like and its impact on businesses, so here are 10 key enablers to get the most from working remotely:

1. Communication & Connection

This is especially important to counteract the lingering stigma around remote working. Employer and employee should be in constant conversation, giving feedback and adjusting accordingly. It’s also important to stay connected so employees don’t feel isolated. Positive recognition from colleagues will have a ripple effect, making workers more likely to bring their energy to the business.

2. Technology

Remote work doesn't have to result in disconnection and miscommunication. With the continual advancements of technology, everyone should be able to work from anywhere so the ‘lack of face-to-face communication’ becomes irrelevant. Leverage this technology to stay connected: maintain scheduled meetings, but move them to a virtual platform, and don’t forget to allow 5-10 minutes for people to check-in on one another at the start of the meeting. With technology like Facetime, Zoom, and Skype and the reduced stress that effective arrangements bring, the sense of community and connection may even improve.

3. Security

There are no limits to what can be achieved remotely as long as organisations ensure that the processes are in place to protect data, IP, and confidential information.

4. Process

It’s not just the arrangements that have to stay flexible. Employers and employees have to adapt over time; as circumstances change, arrangements evolve. Sustained engagement in this process will have a cumulative effect, creating a positive attitude towards remote working across the business.

5. Trust

Employees have to be persistent in driving their own careers and employers have to trust that in doing so they’re driving the organisation forwards.

6. Team design

Concerns about cross-team collaboration arise when people mistake remote and flexible working for lack of structure. As with any other new approach, it requires testing, measurement, and ongoing communication between managers and employees. Employers should encourage pro-active questions about how remote working will affect the rest of the team.

7. Clear deadlines, objectives & scheduling

Employers should set clear objectives and KPI’s and establish a period of time on when to review with a clearly defined sense of how they will measure the success of remote working at the end of that period. Employees should ask for feedback and milestone reviews.

8. Set boundaries

Employees may need to pay particular attention to their own wellbeing and avoid misusing technology to over-compensate for time spent away from the office.

9. Fair workload volume

Employers have to ensure that workers don’t feel pressured to compensate for working from home. If workers are cramming in work in a bid to ‘prove’ their level of output, focus and engagement will suffer.

10. Encourage mentorship 

Supporting a remote worker creates a long-term resource. Those employers which support remote working will develop a dedicated, loyal and organised core of agile workers, from whom new employees can seek help.

As organisations shift to temporary remote-work mandates as a precautionary measure, at Talking Talent we see it as an opportunity - to create a more accepted and compelling remote work environment that is genuinely better and more effective for everyone. A work environment that promotes an inclusive culture and supports every individual, from the working parent who wants to nip out to sports day, to the manager who has elderly parent responsibilities.

Employees joining the workforce now prioritise work-life balance far more than previous generations. And organisations which take creating and sustaining a flex-culture seriously are far more likely to attract and retain talent. Focusing the energy of the business on making remote working work is a win-win; in reducing burn-out and absenteeism and boosting productivity - it’s good for employers and employees alike.