Technology has enabled many employees to work from home for years, but only a fraction of companies have embraced that option before 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit this year, some companies were much better prepared than others and thus have a tremendous head start over their competitors.
At E2Remote, we’re champions of remote work and have helped our clients succeed and grow for years without needing to sit in their office. We know many companies and employees are struggling right now to make this adjustment, and want to share what we’ve learned are the 3 pillars of remote work success:
1: Technology and Software
This one is really obvious, but your employees need to be able to connect to their work resources, fellow employees and customers seamlessly. Every company’s situation is different here so we won’t get into too many specifics (for questions about your exact setup, contact us), but tools like email, productivity software, remote access and VPNs should be deployed so employees have all the tools they need to be successful.
What’s really key here beyond hardware and software details is that all of these tools should be very easy to use for individual employees. Remote work shouldn’t require an instruction manual, and your IT team should do the heavy lifting in advance, so employees can just focus on their job responsibilities.
Another important key is to think beyond simply productivity software and also be sure your communications suite is best-in-class. Yes, getting the actual job done with tools like Excel, ERP software and CRM is important, but it’s just as important to enable easy and seamless communications with tools like Google Meet, Zoom and Slack.
2: Management Framework
Once employees are able to get their work done, management is going to want to make sure the work is getting done of course! There are a lot of different ways to accomplish this, and some of them are definitely better than others. They key in this area is to build a collaborative, trust-based relationship with your remote employees.
During the COVID-19 crisis many companies are basing their remote work management on surveillance and “looking over the shoulder” of their remote employees using software and frequent check-ins. That may get the job done in the short term, but in the long term that’s a great way to destroy morale, increase turnover and lower the quality of talent in your company.
So if you can’t use direct oversight of the work, how can managers make sure the work is getting done? The answer is to use tools such as the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework, realistic quotas and regularly scheduled team meetings to keep momentum up and get the job done in a way that partners with employees and makes it clear that they are trusted. Employees are going through a lot of stress right now, and the companies that will come through this crisis with the most success are those that communicate clearly with employees, set realistic/achievable goals and empower their employees to accomplish their goals. There’s a lot to unpack here, so stay tuned for a follow up article focused exclusively on this topic.
3: Trust, Culture & Human Factors
This is the final key, and it’s not always obvious to most managers. Yes, everyone knows that trust is important, but how do you implement that in a remote work environment? What’s key here is to set up the right types of management frameworks (see Pillar 2 above) that rely on employee personal responsibility rather than surveillance and management overreach. Trust has to be earned, and is not given freely!
Demonstrate that management is worthy of trust by trusting your employees first, communicating in a proactive and positive way, then working together to accomplish company goals. Doing so will build the right remote work culture and ultimately lead to positive financial outcomes for both the employee and the company.
Even with these “pillars” in place, remote work still requires a more purposeful approach than traditional office-based work. When working remotely, more effort must be put in to accomplish things that come naturally in a face-to-face setting. Despite this extra challenge, the rewards are worth it! Multiple studies have shown that remote work increases productivity, and it definitely can lead to tremendous cost savings on office space. As remote work becomes more common and accepted, we wish you luck with this transition! Contact us if you have any questions, we’re always available to help.