Challenges of Building a Remote Workplace
The business landscape is no longer what it once was. COVID-19, combined with the rising access to technology for the average American worker, has created the perfect storm that changed how the world views work. As a result, in 2022, 16% of businesses will remain fully remote. This makes up a non-negligible portion of the world’s workforce and results in necessary adjustments for the rest of the business world.
In some ways, it’s great that the world has now accepted a more flexible working environment- a survey by Tracking Happiness has discovered that remote work can increase employee happiness by up to 20%. What does this mean for businesses, however? What changes must be implemented to keep up with the newfound work methods? How does this affect your bottom line? The rise of remote work is a hurdle that must be crossed for businesses looking to keep up with the times; if handled effectively, the change can provide many benefits to your business.
Why Build a Remote Workplace?
We’re mainly past the pandemic now. While this isn’t reflected in the data regarding daily infections and spread, businesses and individuals have largely moved on from the pandemic. Business is being done in-person more often than ever post-2020, health and safety regulations are loosening if not becoming nonexistent, and there is no longer a legal need to offer remote work for most organizations. So, it begs the question: why build a remote workplace in the post-COVID era?
Flexibility is Key
As the title of this heading may suggest, building a remote workplace for your workers is more than following safety regulations or keeping your employees healthy. Of course, those are important for any business, but the real benefit of investing time in providing opportunities for remote work is allowing your employees to remain flexible.
Remaining flexible as an employer creates a culture of trust and accountability between yourself and those that work for you. In addition, by building out a remote workplace, you are making a tangible manifestation of your confidence in your employees by giving them options.
Maybe your employee feels too sick to come to the office but wants to get some work done. Perhaps your employees feel more comfortable completing their work at home instead of the office- the reason doesn’t matter. If it can be done, building out capabilities for remote work in your organization is a great way to give your employees some agency over their work-life balance, which will pay dividends in the long run.
Increase Employee Retention
Are you currently having issues retaining your employees? You’re not alone: according to a prediction made by Gartner, employee turnover is expected to jump 20% when compared to the annual pre pandemic average. Employers everywhere are scrambling to keep their employees, and oftentimes coming up short. With job creation soaring and workforce participation stagnating, hiring the right employees is more competitive than it’s been in recent times.
If your organization finds itself scrambling to keep employees, there’s some good news: allowing remote work has been proven to cause a 25% decrease in employee turnover. This ties in with our previous point regarding flexibility; allowing your employees to take greater control over their work and how it is completed will ultimately increase job satisfaction while decreasing stress.
Increasing employee retention should always be at the forefront of any employer’s mind, and it’s been a popular topic for a while now. If you’re interested in finding ways to increase employee retention, consult our whitepaper on the subject. The act of decreasing employee turnover will provide ancillary benefits that increase your employees’ wellbeing and work satisfaction.
Building a Remote Workplace: Challenges You Must Overcome
Building out a remote workplace in an organization that has never provided the option before can be difficult. The technology you must acquire, the training your employees must undergo, and everything associated with the move can seem to be too taxing on your organization to even consider it. Rest assured; investing in your remote workplace is well worth the cost, and will help your employees in the long run.
For those accustomed to their coworkers being a short walk away, communication can prove to be difficult. In theory, communication should occur easier than ever- your coworkers are just a click away, and you never have to leave your desk. Anyone who has experienced a remote working environment knows that this isn’t always the case. People are unavailable, the Internet is spotty, or it could be any of the many other issues.
This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on having a cohesive workplace remotely, however. There are still methods you can employ to ensure that your coworkers and employees stay connected, no matter the distance between them.
- Invest in software that makes communication easy: There’s a myriad of software available for commercial use that allows easier and more efficient communication between team members. There’s no reason your organization should settle for the daily zoom meeting and occasional calls; spare no expense to ensure that your communication tools are built in a way that incentivizes communication between employees.
- Set aside time for communication: When you implement remote work, it’s likely that you also are giving your employees the agency to be flexible with their work hours. This means that the time your employees have for communication will likely shrink; this is inevitable and can be worked around. To cope with the shrinking amount of time your employees have available for communication, it’s important that you and the members of your organization set standardized times periodically in which they are available for meetings or any other form of interpersonal communication.
Technology doesn’t come intuitively to everyone. Particularly in organizations with older workforces, the topic of training can be a difficult one to approach. Moving to a remote workspace means that you are therefore trusting your employees to maintain reliable access to the Internet in a safe and effective manner. Even though this may not be an issue for a large portion of America’s workforce, it is inevitable that some members of your organization will have more issues with this than others.
Get ahead of the issue by providing your employees with the training necessary to complete the online component of their jobs effectively. The training may seem redundant to a large portion of your employees, and that’s okay- along with providing the information necessary to work remotely, training should help all of your employees be on the same page regarding company processes and procedures.
Managing Work-Life Balance
Managing work-life balance isn’t just the responsibility of the employee. The employer must make a healthy work-life balance attainable for all employees, and has a responsibility to assist them in pursuing their goals related to the matter. Work-life balance management is integral to mental health and other job satisfaction-related qualities- employers that neglect this could end up with a largely unsatisfied and frustrated workforce.
The first step in assisting your employees in finding a healthy work-life balance is to listen. It’s likely that your employees know what they want- listen to them. Do they want a more manageable workload? Perhaps you need to increase your staffing or delegate tasks more efficiently. Are they feeling burnt out from being away from the office for too long? Seek to create a hybrid environment that is conducive to every employee’s social preferences.
Don’t be mistaken; remote work uniquely puts workers at risk for burnout. In 2021, it was reported that 69% of people working from home experienced symptoms of burnout. This could be due to many factors, but the bottom line is that the topic must be approached with care if you wish to assist your employees in transitioning to a remote environment.
If your employees are still struggling with the effects of a poor work-life balance, consider adopting an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An Employee Assistance Program offers free and confidential assistance to employees that are struggling in the workplace, in hopes that their issues may be resolved as quickly and privately as possible. These programs can assist your employees with any issues they may have integrating themselves into the remote lifestyle without needing to come to an endemic source for assistance.
Allowing your employees to take work home and work in an environment that isn’t a company-run office can put the company’s data at risk, as well as the data of that employee. Accessing company data from unsecure, public access points and otherwise being reckless with how and where they complete their work can provide a significant burden on your organization’s risk management.
Working remotely opens up a large amount of cybersecurity risks that otherwise would not have been an issue in a traditional work environment.
This is why your staff needs to be properly trained in safety protocols and procedures relating to the integrity of your company’s data and property.
Additionally, your organization may want to invest in various technologies and software that can be used for the protection of your company’s data:
- VPNs: VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. These networks are utilized to create a secure connection between the user’s device and the Internet. It does so by creating an encrypted connection between you and your access point. This obscures all information regarding the user’s device, including the user’s location.
- Antivirus: This one is basic. Employees going onto sites with dangerous malware or suspicious software can result in a serious risk to the safety of your company’s information. This is where a strong antivirus comes in- these products scan all downloads and software to ensure that your employees are not downloading anything that could put your organization and its members in danger.
- Employee monitoring software: To be clear, it may not be necessary for every organization to monitor their employees’ activity when they’re working remotely. Some organizations may find this necessary however, and it is understandable when looking at the issue through the lens of cybersecurity. Keeping track of your employees’ online activity through employee monitoring software can ensure that your organization avoids any unnecessary risk from careless employees.
Download: Challenges of Building a Remote Workplace
Working from home offers many benefits to your employees, most of those related to the new flexibility that your employees will enjoy. With this flexibility, however, comes several problems. The most prominent among these is the newfound difficulty in managing projects within your organization. Employees are all working at different times, at different paces, and keeping track of their work is more difficult now than it would be in a traditional office environment.
To manage this, it’s important that you keep constant or near-constant contact with your employees. Keep track of what they’re working on, when, and how their progress is coming along. To do this, you may find the need to break apart larger projects into smaller, more actionable tasks. This way you can keep better track of your employees and their progress without committing to constant surveillance or monitoring.
Additionally, you should look for tools to better empower your employees to stay on top of tasks and keep track of the work being done by themselves and their team. Project management tools have gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason. These tools help team leaders delegate and keep track of the tasks that need to be done within an organization, and largely leads to a more efficient workforce.
Advance Your Workplace With Canal HR
The events following 2020 have been rough on everyone, employee and employer alike. It’s not easy managing the requirements that recent events have imposed on businesses; Canal HR is here to help. Canal HR is a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) committed to improving the efficiency of their workplace, increasing employee satisfaction, and transitioning to a more flexible working environment. Canal HR has three decades of experience serving businesses like you! If you’re interested in taking advantage of our services, contact us or visit our website to learn more.