Thinking about going remote-first, forever? Do these 5 things beforehand

In recent years, flexible working has become synonymous with modern business management and a distinctive trademark for hip tech companies.

However, since COVID, it has become vital for most companies to adapt their work settings to social distance practices and to strive for a higher degree of digitalization. 

In a matter of months, telecommuting, remote working, teleworking, working from home, working from anywhere, and flexible workplace have entered our vocabulary – and are very likely here to stay.

As we witness this epochal transition, employers and employees wonder, how should we come prepared to meet the inevitable challenges? Here is a to-do-list for all the companies that are considering going remote-first! 

Organize the tools, systems, workflows

If you are approaching remote working for the first time, you should consider yourself very lucky! The technology that is available on software and on cloud nowadays is (in most cases) sufficient for you and your employers to keep constantly in touch and organize your streams of work in the most efficient way. So much so that several companies will never go back to now obsolete in-office work arrangements.

Examples of online tools that can make your work-from-home life easier include (among many others): video cloud-based communication software programmes, time and tasks management apps, corporate training platforms, cybersecurity toolkits.

Also, here you can find EU-startups-approved lists of AR and VR startups that are helping us work remotely and of several tools for jazzing up your online and work meetings.

Assign clear roles and responsibilities

Another important step to make remote working ‘work’ is to set clear roles and responsibilities among your co-workers or employees. As mentioned before, the appropriate online tools and a constant flow of communication between team members can help everyone understand what’s expected of them within the group. 

A fixed hierarchy and clear tasks are particularly important in a remote working situation as they encourage your employees to take ownership for their work and their success (and, very importantly, to acknowledge their shortcomings).

Also setting up clear goals and KPI’s is important for a group that works from different places – and sometimes on a different schedule or even a different time zone. Check the next item on the list for advice on how to set KPI’s from a distance.

Review KPIs

Whatever the working arrangement, monitoring performances and detecting areas for improvement is key to success. In a remote working scenario, setting KPI’s becomes all the more important to measure whether your collective efforts are effectively being carried out.

Some simple advice for carrying out a performance assessment for out-of-office work includes: 

  • Tracking milestones in relation to the final product (or intermediate versions) with an Agile Project Management process framework
  • Keep a steady flow of information by sharing feedback and notes
  • Use virtual boards and keep them updated, that should help keep you workers motivated

Ultimately, your employees should feel comforted by the fact that the workflow remains unaffected.

Start building a positive working culture

Positive attitude in the workplace is everything! Make sure to outline the advantages of a remote position to your employees. Remote working needs some adjustments but should never feel like a demotion or a punishment. Instead, it holds tangible advantages: when employees can manage their time autonomously, you reduce the risk of them contracting the virus, and they feel safer, more motivated and trusted.

Also, set out values that are important for both parties, such as defining free time slots, and prioritizing employees’ mental and physical needs. During quarantine and social distancing times, feelings of isolation and distress are very common. That is why building an effective and positive working culture includes finding the right work/life balance.

Check-in with your employees

Make your employees feel heard and seen – even if only via a computer screen! Make a habit of getting regular, virtual coffee breaks with them and meetings that aren’t strictly work-related.

Trust them with their tasks and make sure that they feel safe while performing their duties. Losing one’s job is a dreadful fear and can impact their performances. Plus, it can worsen an already aggravated mental state. It is in fact proven that a high level of economic anxiety has been generally registered during the pandemic. And this is not only true for people who are unemployed but also for those who are employed and in fear of being laid of.

If you’re looking to read more about remote work, take a look at this recent article, The pros and cons of home working as a Founder.