Questions Raised by Increased Remote Work
We’ve heard time and time again how remote work is increasing, and the traditional Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 work schedule will no longer be the norm. Instead, companies worldwide are embracing the idea of fully remote or hybrid work schedules, raving about how they benefit company culture and improve overall productivity.
At the same time, company leaders are also aware of how issues related to remote work are rising. For instance, many workers struggle to get things done, and managers are grappling with how to support their teams fully. But if you’re hoping to form a remote workforce to be reckoned with, it’s best to start a conversation about the questions raised by increased remote work.
Let’s explore five critical questions that have come to light in the move to increased remote work.
Who is Responsible for Remote Work Expenses?
Most business owners are prepared to handle and track common business expenses. For instance, payroll, rent, and utilities are often automatically debited from the central business account, while money is set aside for taxes and other office-related expenses in another. However, remote work presents its own expenses. So, the question becomes, who is responsible for them and how will you keep up with them?
Much of the conversation surrounding remote work expenses has to do with figuring out which expenses employees are responsible for and which are the company’s responsibility. For instance, do you reimburse your employees for paying for internet service? Are you covering the cost of mobile work phones, laptops, and work desks? Or are your employees responsible for the cost of these things? Although reimbursing remote workers for job-related expenses isn’t a common practice, it can set you apart from competing companies and attract strong candidates.
How are Workplace Injuries Handled?
Your employees may not be injuring themselves in the office anymore, but workplace injuries still occur in remote work. Unfortunately, many companies are finding that they need to reevaluate their worker’s comp policies and other resources for support to fit their new remote work models better.
What do you do if one of your remote workers develops carpal tunnel syndrome? Or injures their back from poor ergonomics? How about if they slip and fall down the steps of their home office? What if they get in a car accident on the way to a client visit? With these questions in mind, ensure you have a policy for workplace injuries that includes those injuries sustained in remote work and resources to help those affected recover.
What About the Not So Tech-Savvy?
Although using technology each day seems like the norm for all people, many find that navigating a computer or laptop is challenging. Throw in apps, software programs, and other tech devices they have to learn as well, and it can be extremely overwhelming for them.
Many of your remote workers aren’t tech-savvy. They’ll likely need extra assistance navigating the different tools you use in your remote workforce if you want things to go smoothly. Helping them to develop tech skills now, before remote work becomes even more of the norm, is a brilliant idea because you want everyone confidently using company technology and ready to problem solve as those tech-related issues occur. Also, they can adapt quicker to the world becoming more and more tech-reliant.
How Do You Track Productivity?
Way too many company owners think they have to physically see what their employees are doing at all times to ensure they’re getting things done, but this just isn’t the case. Instead, there’s evidence of a significant increase in productivity in remote workforces. Still, companies wonder how they can track employee engagement and performance without crossing ethical lines as their teams work from home.
You can effectively monitor how productive your remote employees are by first working with them to establish their job responsibilities in this new work environment and expectations for completing them.
Additionally, you can shift from a time-centric mindset to a project/deadline-focused one. In other words, instead of worrying about what your employees accomplish during your working hours, focus on giving them a deadline for their project and the freedom to choose how they complete it.
How Do You Ensure Everyone is Okay?
When you’re in the office, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone is having an off day. Their responses are short. Their energy is low. Their body language is screaming sadness, and they stay to themselves the entire day. But, unfortunately, you don’t have these visual cues in remote work. That makes it challenging not just to recognize when someone isn’t okay but do something about it.
It’ll take some extra work and intention to ensure everyone on your remote team is okay. Still, you must do so to help them successfully navigate having work and home in the same place. Specifically, you can help them avoid burnout, evade isolation, and fight off procrastination. Additionally, you can help reduce miscommunication among your team.
Encourage camaraderie, communication, and connection among your remote workers. Set up team team-building activities. Also, lead group meetings, and ensure one-on-one time is available to everyone. More importantly, require your team to go enjoy the things and people they love once they log off from work each day.
Ultimately, all of the above questions raised by increased remote work should be adequately addressed by all companies who plan to make working from home a permanent part of their company culture. In addition, remote work has a host of benefits like a better work-life balance for your employees and increased engagement. But be mindful of the issues it brings and put a plan in place to navigate those challenges as they arise.