The jury has come back on our COVID-sponsored remote work experiment, and it looks like the American workforce has voted to keep work-from-home arrangements. CNBC reports that fully remote or hybrid work-from-home models are now in effect at some of the biggest employers in the U.S., including Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter. As we move into these new and more permanent employee work models, how can employers create effective policies and workflows to effectively manage employees that are fully remote or half-in and half-out of the office setting? We have five tips that may help.
Five Effective Work from Home Policies
1. Start with outcomes first. Managing any employee starts with a solid list of tasks and responsibilities that lead to certain goals. This is true for hybrid, fully “WFH,” or in-office employees. Managers must then work with their employees to reverse engineer the goals and create measurable outcomes to achieve them. This is all management 101, but what’s different now is that the yardsticks you create must be part of an effective work-from-home policy for your business.
Employers may worry that the distractions of home life will hamper employee productivity. But with an effective work-from-home policy for remote or hybrid workers, you will be able to see if your assumptions are true. Keep in mind, though, that the workflows at home may be entirely different. Part of what makes remote workers so effective is that they can work when they’re at their most productive. Try not to micromanage this process and instead focus on the outcomes you’ve set. You can manage this by setting shorter touch base meetings to check on progress and provide support. But let the employee structure their work processes to accommodate the different environment of a home setting.
2. Set rules for collaboration. One thing you can manage closely is how employees collaborate. Do this by establishing the best tools, like MegaMeeting for video conferencing, Slack for instant messaging, and Microsoft Teams for project management—or whatever other tools your teams need to make work happen. It’s a good idea to formalize these tools. Roadmap how teams are supposed to use their software and hardware. To more effectively manage hybrid work from home or fully remote workers, consider some of these questions:
· How and where will team members store files if they’re working remotely? (Hint: Not on their desktop.)
· What security features will you have in place?
· How should teams collaborate on a shared document when they’re dispersed?
· Can employees use their personal devices to access the company network while at home?
· How and when should video conferencing be used?
· Do your teams need more training?
· Will your hybrid or remote workers have the bandwidth needed to improve collaboration?
· Are there any other collaboration tools your teams need to improve their productivity even when they aren’t in the office?
Set some rules on how employees will notify others that they are “AFK”—away from keyboard. Also, establish cultural norms around how and when employees are required to work. If they’re in a hybrid work-from-home situation, how does their schedule change when they’re in the office versus not?
It's also important to ensure to have a PTO system that works for both in-office and remote workers. Using clear and detailed PTO software can streamline and simplify this process, making it more equitable and fair for all your employees.
The goal of this exercise is to set expectations for the new dispersed, mobile workforce. This will help your management teams handle this new normal more effectively and with fewer misunderstandings.
3. Ensure your remote workforce isn’t handicapped by a lack of resources. When a worker goes remote, it’s often under the assumption that they have the tools at home to get the job done. But the latest data shows two in five remote workers say they still lack access to corporate tools that are necessary to do the job. From unreliable internet to a lack of hardware, companies should mitigate these frustrations by giving remote workers the tools they need to meet their productivity goals. Anything less just sets this new remote or hybrid workplace model up for failure.
4. Make sure communication is flowing smoothly between the office and home. Sometimes remote workers can be “out of sight, out of mind.” Be alert for managers who seem to favor in-office employees as their go-to resource. This may leave your remote employees feeling left out in the cold. Many hallway conversations that share crucial project details won’t make it to your remote workers, unless you set up a system for making sure this doesn’t occur. Video conferencing is a good tool for facilitating face-to-face interactions that keep employees feeling connected to in-office teams. Create equitable processes for work assignments, tracking progress, and rewarding achievements. This will keep everyone engaged, no matter where they’re working from that day.
5. Default your workflows to a remote work model. When all operations move to a virtual model, everyone, no matter their work location, can perform. It’s a different approach that focuses first on ensuring that everyone has what they need to maximize productivity. Defaulting processes to fit a remote work model ensures that everyone will be treated equally and nothing will fall through the cracks. It will also quickly highlight any glitches in your workflows that may have been hampering remote teams—but that you just hadn’t noticed yet.
An article in the HR Exchange Network has some great recommendations for changing your operational culture to go “remote first:”
· Create parallel perks for both onsite and offsite teams.
· Create fully inclusive team building exercises.
· Eliminate meetings whenever possible but use the best software project collaboration tools you can find.
· Use cloud tools over on-premise server applications.
Putting remote and hybrid work models at the center of your corporate universe is a great way to elevate your teams and improve their productivity. But crucial to this goal is to develop the right collaboration partnerships with third-party vendors that will help you succeed.
Forming Partnerships for Your Hybrid Work from Home Teams
Remote work isn’t going away anytime soon; 61% of your employees say they want the flexibility of working from home. MegaMeeting has been providing secure, efficient video conferencing solutions to our business partners long before remote work became the new normal. Find out how our fully customizable and brandable product could benefit your business by facilitating your most effective work from home policies. Check out our free trial by clicking here.
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