How you can ensure effective remote working for businesses

06 April 2020

Businesses are now racing to adapt in a period of significant change. The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic is being felt across a multitude of sectors; there is no immunity in the wide landscape of the business community. In order to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees, usual workplace operations have now, in the main, been shifted to take place from within the home. Remote working is, for many of us, becoming the new ‘normal’, and ensuring that this is as functional, productive and stress-free as possible is vital to our workforce.

Indeed, recent research tells us that 19 per cent of remote workers  struggle with loneliness when working remotely. We can only expect for this figure to increase as individuals navigate their work-life balance from home. In order for your team to work effectively from home, there are a number of ways, that as a senior figure within the business, you can encourage this.

Your workforce should ensure that they are maintaining a regular flow of internal engagement and communication; in times like this, there is no such thing as over-communicating. Sharing information, resources and updates with your colleagues and clients, and encouraging them to do the same is key to ensuring that remote working is a success. This can inspire engagement across the whole team too, which is essential, especially when maintaining remote communication as businesses can operate from global offices, and across multi-generational workforces.

Clear lines of communication are invaluable to all businesses, but even more so when you are all operating from remote locations. Your team need to set clear expectations about how they are managing remote working and be open about maintaining this. This will mean connecting with key members of your team or department, outlining a structure of working hours, recurring meetings and scheduled time away from your desk. Avoiding miscommunication is important, as is not making assumptions about the working patterns of fellow colleagues. Ask questions, set goals and collaborate together. Clarifying this and communicating regularly also means that deadlines can be met, and the entire workforce is held to account for their contributions.

Utilising the wide range of technology that is available today is crucial to ensuring your team are able to communicate effectively when working remotely. Investing in your team and making their new working day as similar as possible to their office environment, is important too. Adopting software that enables file sharing, editing and instant messaging functions provides your team with the tools they need to maintain a channel of communication that will ensure that remote working is just as effective. Digital platforms such as video conferencing should also be rolled out across your business to keep your team connected on a ‘face-to-face’ basis. Communicating in real-time and seeing the faces you would normally see in the office can motivate your team, provide reassurance and extend the positive company culture, wherever they are.

It is also key to be intentional when it comes to working remotely. To do this means to place purpose and meaning in what you are actioning and aiming to achieve. For many workers, they will also be managing a hectic home schedule, alongside the demands of their role, and organising this can be a difficult task. In order to combat this, it is essential to plan in and maintain a structured routine and schedule to your day. Scheduling breaks, virtual team meetings and catch-ups, as well as blocks of time to complete dedicated tasks, and if needed, time aside to care for relatives, will ensure you can work effectively and with ease. Stepping away from your desk at intervals is integral to maintaining productivity and engagement too – especially when working in your own home. If possible, taking time out to get some fresh air, whilst heeding the government advice is a good way to reduce stress, and re-focus.

Protecting your time and your workspace is important to successful remote working too. In order to achieve this, it can be a good idea to outline working hours and stick to them, ensuring that you communicate this to your work colleagues, family or those you live with. Encourage your team to keep their calendar visible to ensure that everyone is aware of when they are available and contactable. Being proactive about avoiding disruptions to your day, setting clear boundaries and ensuring everyone understands the importance of working professionally within your home will all contribute to working well from a remote location. Your time, and that of your employees, is invaluable, especially during such uncertain circumstances.

Remote working is now becoming the new normal across the globe. Remaining agile and continually adapting to unexpected change is key to the success of your business and its output. In opening up clear channels of communication, being intentional with your time and engaging with your team will go a long way towards ensuring that your remote workforce are mobilised, motivated and working effectively.