Working from home (WFH) has been a growing trend which we now see becoming more mainstream due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently affecting the entire world. Before the pandemic the building blocks of a global, home-based workforce were already in place as a result of the growing number of jobs connected to computer networks where software solutions that streamline communication and improve daily workflows make managing a distributed workforce easy.
COVID-19 has shown just how many companies can function adequately and successfully, without all their employees having to be in the same office.
Employers have increasingly become aware that regular full-time employees can work from home and some of them are already accustomed to doing so; this makes the transition to working remotely much easier. Regular workers are only one segment; in current economies where on-demand or contingent workers such as freelancers, contractors, consultants, self-employed and gig workers form part of the fastest-growing workforce, unconventional working environments have become the norm.
A number of leading companies in various industries have fully embraced the concept of a remote workforce and analysts forecast that by the end of this year, 19 percent of the workforce will be made up of contingent workers.
For your employees to work effectively from home, you’ll need to make sure you have the technology you require, Internet service that meets your need, a workable schedule you can stick to, and ways to connect with your team. So, ensure you give them the tools they need to help them stay connected and productive; this allows your team to all stay on the same page no matter where they are working from.
Because there is no longer the daily face time with employees, creating a daily check-in routine is an important way to set priorities and foster connections. You can arrange a morning check-in via video chat, phone call or instant message to create a sense of normalcy; these can be one-on-one or held among small groups. It’s important to build up a healthy relationship of trust and confidence.
You can set clear boundaries and expectations for work hours, projects, and meetings that allow your employees to relax and feel confident that they can achieve the goals they need to meet. Finding an agreeable solution for daily or weekly check-ins will help to eliminate micromanaging.
Encourage your employees to create dedicated workspaces in their homes to help eliminate the distractions of normal home life. That allows them to stay focused and remain on track and also to mentally separate work from home.
Working from home can contribute to loneliness and negative emotions, therefore as an employer you should do what you can to provide emotional support to employees. Set the tone for their virtual office with a calm and upbeat presence, which will help create an environment where they can get things done. Ensure you’re more available than usual for check-ins and other questions that may come up given the unfamiliar circumstances. In addition to setting virtual office hours, be present on instant messaging apps throughout the day to help employees. Check in to see what’s working well, what challenges they may be encountering, and what support they need from you.
Employers should ensure that everyone working from home knows what’s expected of them. This should include:
- the hours when employees will be available to work
- how employees will keep in touch
- how performance will be managed and measured – bearing in mind different people’s circumstances where necessary
- how to manage work-life balance, like taking regular breaks and switching off from work at the end of the day
- rules relating to storing information and data protection; employees need to be aware of their obligations to protect sensitive business data and keep work-related materials confidential and secure
- point of contact for employees should they have any problems or their circumstances change
Experience has shown that as an employer you can benefit from your employees working remotely:
- You can save an average of $10,000 a year on workspace and related expenses.
- You can tap into talent anywhere around the world since your workforce doesn’t have to be location dependent.
- Your employees working from home means you have less turnover, lower absenteeism and greater engagement between employees.
- Remote work allows you to have flexible scheduling.
- Employee productivity increases: studies show that remote workers are more productive than their office counterparts.
Ultimate Edge Communications offers flexible work arrangements including the option to work from home for both full and part time staff.