Four hundred percent — this is how much remote work grew in the last decade. In the previous five years, 40 percent more workers had flexible workplace options. And during the early stages of the pandemic, some 63 percent of Americans were working from home. The future of work is remote.
Businesses that fail to adapt to this shift are likely to struggle if not end up closing shop down the line. Because not only are people now preferring job postings with remote options, but most customers are also transacting more online than visiting establishments.
So what’s a business to do?
Remote Operations: How to Do It Right
The shift to remote operations should not happen abruptly. No matter its scale, every business needs some time to prepare its employees, establish a process that makes sense for every team, and make investments in the right systems and technologies.
Strengthen IT Capabilities
Depending on the number of employees you have, the first step may be to bolster your IT infrastructure. In doing so, you ensure the smooth transition from in-office to home arrangements. Your IT people will likely recommend doing the following:
A virtual private network allows securely sharing files, applications, and systems among employees. Whereas your company’s VPN may have been limited to a few key personnel, a remote workforce will need that ability.
Address remote security
Make sure employees working from home can access systems safely without barriers. Some people using laptops or desktop setups with mini PCs may have a hard time getting work applications because your network access control system is a fortress. Although it’s good to have that kind of security, it could be due to inefficiencies and low productivity. So create strategies that allow smooth access without compromising security.
Pick Out the Remote Workers
Once your IT is confident that your remote workforce can perform and produce, the next step would be to determine who gets to work from home. Unless your business process can be done purely online, you may have to identify people in your organization who need to be in the office to carry out their essential functions. Some jobs can’t be done at home.
Create an Effective System for Working Remotely
Workflows that were sensible on-site or in-office may be unreasonable for a work-from-home scheme. You’ll want to make sure your employees still have some separation between their work life and home life, even when working remotely. But at the same time, you don’t want to be too lenient that projects are compromised, and clients start to complain about delays and poor quality.
Prevent these outcomes by setting expectations and developing processes that make it easy for people to:
- Communicate on projects
- Access and share information
- Track system issues and address them
- Record tasks
- Keep track of goals
Employees need to know if they have to be available on messaging platforms at certain times. They need to know if a structured work schedule still applies from home. And they need to know the process for notifications if they can’t make a meeting.
Invest in Remote Business Tools
Your workflows and processes can only be as reliable as the tools you’ve picked. Although it would be a dream to have just one software for every process, the many business tools in the market aren’t half bad. Some will be purely for human resources, others for project management and collaboration. Both are likely essential for any business, no matter the industry.
Other business tools that enable remote operations are cloud storage, video conferencing, and customer relationship management.
Choose the Right Leaders
Also, as crucial as your business tools and workflows are the very people who must see them through. The team leaders in your organization are an essential part of employee retention. The management of remote workers is much harder than in-office employees. Miscommunication can occur without the benefit of face-to-face interaction.
So your supervisors and managers need to possess special skills and qualities to lead an effective, happy team. Company leaders set the tone for the rest of the organization. It’s important to not only be an effective communicator and active listener but also be trustworthy. It’s also crucial to be a role model where work-life balance is concerned. Managers and supervisors who don’t switch off-put pressure on rank and file to do the same. What this scenario leads to is burnout.
Choose people who have a higher level of leadership skills and qualities because that person could inspire productivity. If remote workers are inspired to be productive, the business wins.
Remote operations are likely to be the future of business. Make sure your organization is well-prepared to handle this shift.