During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses transitioned their employees from in-person to remote work. Some saw a successful transition, while other businesses struggled to keep their employees satisfied and engaged. While remote work has a number of benefits, there's still room for improvement in terms of employee support. If you'd like to build a successful remote work culture at your business, it's essential to know how to overcome some of the most common obstacles that business owners encounter. Read on to learn more about how to avoid these pitfalls.
When the home and the office are combined, employees may feel like they're always in the office. This can lead to a poor work-life balance and will eventually cause burnout. When there isn't a clear distinction between working hours and off time, employees may feel obligated to answer emails at all hours or dive into work when they should be taking a much-needed break. It can feel like they're working at a job where they're always "on call."
On the other hand, when well-executed, remote work can improve work-life balance. For remote employees, gone are the days of long commutes and extra time spent away from families. Remote work that prioritizes employee comfort and happiness improves morale and work culture.
In order to promote a healthy work-life balance, make it clear when your employee's workday starts and ends. Make it clear that you understand they have a life outside of work by letting them know that emails don't have to be answered right away and most problems can wait until work hours.
For nearly 100 years, the 40-hour workweek has been standard. Employees are used to clocking in at nine, clocking out at five, and taking a short break mid-day. But with remote work, priorities must shift. You may hire employees who live in different time zones, or some employees may have obligations that make working a traditional nine to five shift difficult.
It is better for both your business and your employees to focus on results, rather than the hours worked. Studies show that, during an eight-hour shift, most workers are only productive for about three hours on average. When you force your employees to sit at their desks when they're not at their most productive, they may feel frustrated or bored, and they will get little done.
People are used to being evaluated based on how many hours they spend at the office. But when people are working from home, you can't always see when people are at their desks and when they aren't. So to make a smooth transition into remote work, managers need to be clear about expectations, deadlines, and assignments.
It's a good idea to move away from the traditional nine to five schedule, because some people are most productive in the morning, while others may feel most productive at 11 p.m. Instead of setting goals based on hours worked, set goals based on real, measurable results. Make sure to discuss what's expected of them and cater assignments to each employee's strengths and weaknesses.
It's difficult for employees to be productive when they are stuck in unnecessarily long meetings. There's nothing worse than setting up for a busy day only to be called into a two-hour meeting. And this is no different for remote workers. When you're working remotely, it's so easy to call a video chat or a Zoom meeting that ends up going on for way too long.
While meetings are necessary to promote teamwork and keep everything on the same page, back-to-back meetings that last hours are unnecessary and can sap productivity. In an office setting, people usually get breaks between meetings. They may have to walk from one meeting to the next, but this isn't true for remote work. Remote employees can find themselves stuck in virtual meetings for half their day or more.
As a manager, be sure to schedule regular meetings but stick to the schedule. End meetings according to that schedule, and keep spur-of-the-moment Zoom calls to a minimum. This can help keep employees engaged and productive while keeping them feeling like part of the team.
One of the biggest hurdles that businesses face when transitioning to remote work is creating a unified company culture where everyone feels understood and listened to. Because employees aren't connecting in person, it can be difficult to create that culture of support and teamwork that's necessary to keep morale high. People aren't chatting around the water cooler or in the break room, and they may start to feel isolated.
As a manager, be sure to get in touch with each of your subordinates on a personal level, making sure that their concerns are heard. And work hard to keep your entire team connected with social meetings, virtual happy hours, or other similar events. This way, people can get to know their colleagues outside the workplace even when working remotely.
As the pandemic draws to a close, remote work may be here to stay. For businesses that have transitioned to remote work successfully, the result is happy, relaxed, and productive employees. If your business is still struggling to keep remote workers engaged, remember the barriers these workers may face. When you remove these barriers, you can build a successful remote work culture for your business.