More than half of US employees work from home at least once a week.
Executives worldwide may have fought the trend. What started as a necessity has surprised everyone by becoming a permanent fixture. Some now even accept lower wages if the position offers remote working flexibility.
Companies must get on board with this widespread preference. Most of all, because it’s not just good for their employees! It allows companies to hire internationally and extend their reach into new regions that don’t have physical offices.
But getting this transition or expansion wrong can cost businesses dearly. What remote work best practices keep staff happy while monitoring productivity?
It all comes down to communication.
Clear communication is the key to keeping expectations understood and productivity measured. It allows autonomy and success to coexist, keeping management and employees happy.
There are eight fundamental ways to make sure your remote communication is clear.
These practices protect employees’ freedom while making sure they stay on target. And they help management openly monitor progress in their teams without having to nag, pester, or micromanage. Read on to see how your business can incorporate them.
1. Schedule Open Communication
Scheduling time for team communication means more than a weekly hybrid meeting. It involves making sure that team members have regular opportunities, daily if possible, to openly discuss matters with their colleagues and bosses.
In person, a quick question can be asked as you pass each other in the hall. But sending an email with the same question may feel unnatural. So people avoid it altogether, and miscommunication happens.
Therefore, make sure one-on-one check-ins and team meetings have an “ask me anything” policy. This helps staff feel comfortable speaking openly. That in turn combats the miscommunication inherent in working from different locations.
2. Schedule Social Interaction
Comfy clothes and no commute are favorites among remote workers, but the isolation is not. Not seeing your team in person can leave employees feeling disconnected. This is especially true if others on the same team work together in person.
To combat this, social interaction must be regularly scheduled as well. As unnatural as this sounds, this remote working strategy is the key to building trust within teams and the company as a whole.
Begin with structured sessions to relieve the awkwardness, such as team-building activities. Over time, this can evolve into more relaxed conversational meetings.
3. Use a Flexible Communication Structure
Regular meetings are a must, but many remote teams have been hired internationally. That requires accommodating global employees with multiple time zones. How can you meet with teams regularly if one’s morning is another’s evening?
A remote work best practice is to regularly change the times of the meetings. Have a schedule that rotates the meetings so that everyone gets a chance for it to be at a convenient time.
4. Communicate Clear Expectations
Some find it difficult to trust their teams to work well if they can’t physically monitor them. But progress can be measured just as easily in person as remotely if you have the right tools in place. The key is to measure outcomes, not activity.
Clearly communicate to employees what they have to accomplish and by when. Then trust them to follow through. Set KPIs that both you and they can track openly.
If a team member is inactive for a few hours during the day but submits high-quality work on time, don’t make an issue. Build a culture of trust that focuses on output, not micromanaging how they use their work day.
5. Recognize Achievement
It can be difficult to acknowledge people’s achievements when you’re not seeing them every day. But when people don’t feel appreciated, it’s easy for them to lose motivation. In hybrid teams, this can cause a disconnect between those bonding in person and those working out-of-office.
As a manager, keep an eye out for when people on your team do especially well. Then make a concerted effort to commend them, either publicly or privately depending on the situation.
6. Document Everything
One of the best ways to combat miscommunication is to write everything down.
Document everything, from company policies to meeting minutes. Then, ensure everyone has access to — and knows how to access — these files. This practice makes sure everyone is on the same page, reducing the chance of miscommunication.
7. Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are one of the most important elements of a sustainable remote working culture. They help employees sign off at the end of the day without mentally carrying their work into their downtime.
The most important of these is to set no-contact hours. This stops work from bleeding into non-work hours. Doing this helps employees feel respected, and come to work each day more energized and motivated.
8. Maintain Company Culture
When an employee’s only contact with their company is through their screen, it can be difficult to feel the company’s culture. Therefore, management has to work hard to make company values shine through in their communication when they adopt remote work.
For example, does your company culture:
- Foster a healthy spirit of competition?
- Focus on working as a team?
- Focus more heavily on long or short-term goals?
Whichever is the case, make it come through in your management style. This helps remote workers feel connected to the rest of the company.
Implement Remote Work Best Practices With the Experts
How should you go about changing your current policies to include these remote work best practices? And if you’re onboarding remote employees, how can you make sure these policies integrate with your in-person working style?
The best place to start is with the experts. At Bradford Jacobs, we specialize in setting up and fine-tuning the remote working model. We can even help with the onboarding process, to ensure you bring on the best people for remote roles.
Talk to us today to see how our services can help your company in its remote working transition.