Remote working is a growing trend of businesses choosing for (all/part of) their team to not be based from a fixed office owned by the business. With remote working, any member of your team should be able to work from home, coffee shop or even across the world. Simply put, employees don’t have a long commute to an office.
The concept is due to the advancements of technology where you can use different communications methods and software to do your job, that you do not have to be in the same or even the same country as your colleagues. It also allows business to pull from a far greater pool of skilled people when the employees can work from where they are based. It has been hugely popular in America for many years but in Britain, it is a growing trend but not the norm although, attitudes towards remote working has greatly changed since the COVID-19 outbreak.
There are factors to consider before allowing a team member to work remotely and some tools that imperative for working remotely, successfully.
Internal Factors to Consider and Overcome
Not everyone can work remotely as your job might require you to be at a physical site, such as if you are part of a production line, however, that isn’t the only factor. There are a few other factors to consider:
- Company Culture dictates a lot within a business because it’s based on human interactions and perceptions which mould a company culture (whether you like it or not) and this can be positive or negative. For example, some people use the “I don’t think he/she is working because they are working remotely.” “Tom doesn’t do as much as us because he isn’t in the office.” It is most likely factually incorrect but it’s a hard perception to overturn especially if the majority of your workforce is based at one office. There is a simple solution to this problem although not an easy one as it takes time and the message and attitudes need to start from the leadership teams and filter down.
- Diminished Colleague relationships – Working in the same environment naturally means you share experiences and insights through a working day but when you work remotely, that is no longer possible unless you put the effort in. That is where company culture comes in, you need to ensure that there are business practices put in place to encourage social and cross-department interaction.
- Mental Wellbeing is an important factor and one that should be considered before an individual commit to remote working. Most people require an office environment for their wellbeing whether that be for social reasons or structure. For example, some people find it stifling and isolating to work on their own. Obviously, the right person can still meet those needs by working remotely but it requires a different mindset and implementing best practices in place such as ensuring there is a place to communicate socially with colleagues such as a water cooler chat or simply encourage video calls.
- Decreased Work/Life Balance – Some people feel like because they are working remotely that they have something to prove because there is an assumption that people aren’t working so this sometimes leads to the thinking that they need to be available beyond their working hours. Again, this can be overcome with simple company culture and expectations by ensuring managers are clear that they need to unplug once their day has ended and encourage breaks.
- Workload Ownership – Remote working requires people to manage their own workload and ensure they get it done on time. If you need a lot of motivation then you will struggle when you are working remotely.
- Distractions – At home, you are likely exposed to distractions that don’t appear in a traditional office environment such as; housework, family and TV. If you can self-motivate and focus, then you can resist the temptation to procrastinate or simply, assign yourself to downtime to indulge in this.
- Technology issues – these are common concerns but if you have the right equipment set-up at home, your team will run just as effectively as if they were in the office. Also, remember that even when teams are based in offices, that doesn’t negate tech issues either.
6 Must-Have Tools for Remote Workers
- Broadband – Good broadband is imperative to working remotely regardless of your role. Standard home broadband might not cut it as it is a different type of usage. You may be downloading or uploading more with your role and if you are spending your whole working week, working remotely, you are doubling your standard usage.
- Email – A lot of communication is done via email so of course you need a reliable email software. We recommend using Office 365.
- Company file storage – you need a place where you can store, add, remove and update files that can be accessed in a central location. We recommend OneDrive, Dropbox and SharePoint.
- CRM – A centralised database of your customer records and interactions is imperative for all businesses. You can get CRM’s that do far more than that, where they integrate support functions, sales, marketing and accounting abilities meaning you have less software costs. Choosing a CRM should be done carefully because it is a huge undertaking so you don’t want to keep chopping and changing. We use WebCRM but there are thousands of different CRM’s out there.
- Unified Communications – is a type of tool that creates a seamless communication method between customers, staff, suppliers and prospects. You can do audio and video group/individual calls with screen-sharing abilities, Instant messages, ability to annotate and share files, integrate with calendars and show availability status.Unified Communication tools are available on mobiles, too so it really doesn’t matter where you are, your business can communicate effectively. We recommend the following three unified communications tools; Horizon Collaborate, Mitel MiCollab and Wildix.
- Checklist – Most people are far more productive with lists and tasks. Some systems integrate that ability but if they don’t, we recommend Microsoft To-Do which recently bought out Wunderlist. It integrates with your outlook account for when you flag emails to be looked at for tasks, you can share tasks with your team and create lists of different tasks for different projects.
Choose the right Unified Communications system for your Business.
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