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The hybrid era: how to do remote work right

June 23, 2023
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COVID-19 is fully behind us. Well, it still exists, but the panic is over. Our lateral flows cost money again, we all placed our N95 masks in storage, and understanding terms like ‘herd immunity’ hasn’t been necessary in months. However, one thing did stick — remote working.

Even now, though, some businesses aren’t fully equipped or prepared for a hybrid or remote work arrangement. If your company is struggling, here are a few things you can do to make remote work easier for you and your team.

Why should businesses have remote work policies?

According to the British Parliament, in September 2022, 22% of UK workers worked at least one day from home, with 13% working fully remotely. There’s a reason why this is an upward trend — half of employees who were allowed to work from home reported improved wellbeing, 78% said they had a better work-life balance, and businesses noted that productivity actually went up since implementing a remote policy.

In other words, working remotely can improve the mental health of employees, reduce burnout, and increase the productivity of your team. Seems like a real no-brainer, right?

How can businesses become remote work ready?

Knowing that hybrid work can be beneficial to your business and employees is not enough. For decades (if not centuries!) we were used to working from an office, so switching gears can seem like an impossible task. We’ve gathered five simple tips for becoming a remote-friendly workplace.

1. Start from the top

If you try to change your business culture immediately from fully office-based to hybrid or remote, it might be quite a shock to the system for many. You might find your employees are suspicious at first. The best way to gain the trust of your team and encourage them to test out your new remote plan is… to take advantage of it yourself. When your workers see their managers also work from home — and do so well and productively — they’ll learn what’s expected of them, while being more inclined to try it out.

Make sure you’re working from home and communicating this with your team regularly. Be a role model for your employees and they will follow suit!

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2. Provide a budget

Moving the workplace into the home, even if only partially, mixes up parts of our lives that used to be completely separate. Suddenly, where and how we live, our financial situation, and even our romantic or social relationships, matter to the healthy functioning of our work. It can be difficult, especially for those who struggle in that area. If you live with four flatmates, you might find it difficult to attend meetings from home; while, if fibre optic hasn’t reached your locale, it could be a challenge to do your work well. These are only a few examples of the challenges your staff might be facing, which have a high potential for affecting their job when you transition to remote working.

To avoid these situations, it’s always good to ensure your employees know they can ask for help when it comes to setting up their home office. Providing a remote work budget to allow them to purchase any equipment they need — be it a monitor for their computer, comfy chair, or faster broadband — is essential. And, of course, let them know that if they need support of any other kind, you’re always there for them.

3. Make communication better

When you’re in the office, interactions are unavoidable. You may overhear your colleague talking about something, or your boss might remember to inform you of a new requirement as they see you. Not having that physical meet-up spot with your team can trigger a lot of miscommunication, and that’s why you need to be proactive in the way you interact with your staff when going remote.

First, you should set guidelines and systems. Getting a tool such as Slack or Microsoft Team and ensuring communication goes through it (even for people in the office) is important, but also making sure your work timelines and projects are organised in a simple, cloud-based way could make working much more efficient for everyone.

And, of course, don’t forget the social element — try out different activities online too, so that everyone in the company gets involved. For example, at Thrive, we have a ‘guess who’ social every month where each of us anonymously gives a fact about themselves and we play to figure out who it was. It’s a great way to learn more about each other, and it takes place online, so everyone in the company gets involved, even those who aren’t based near the office.

4. Cut unnecessary meetings

Injecting some flexibility into your workplace happens naturally when you make the move to hybrid or remote working. However, you must resist the urge to schedule lots of meetings to keep an eye on your employees. It may seem necessary, but it will actually prevent them from doing their work efficiently. We’ve all attended at least one meeting that could have been an email — not only are they a waste of time, but they also interrupt your much-needed trains of thought.

Instead, try to reduce the number of meetings to the bare minimum. For those rare times when a meeting is essential, make sure it’s recorded so that remote workers can still view it if they couldn’t make the time live. It’s all about embracing the fact that your staff are all capable people who want to get the job done, and giving them the space and flexibility to do so without micromanaging them.

5. Learn from feedback

What’s the best way to know what your employees need to go remote? Just ask. It’s sometimes easy to forget that your team has the same goal as you — to produce the best results for the business — and they truly want to achieve this. By asking them what they need, what’s working well, and where your company can improve in accommodating them, you’ll learn invaluable information that no article online could match!

You could either incorporate this into your 1-2-1’s, or have a suggestion box (but make sure it’s available online for those fully remote workers). Another option would be to include surveys at your workplace. These aren’t only good for remote workers, as they allow you to get a comprehensive view of your business culture, your employees’ sentiments towards your organisation, and how you can build and improve on that. Thrive has specific surveys directed towards remote-readiness, which can truly shed light on the issues you may be facing — before they become real problems.

If you want to hear more about the Thrive surveys and how they can help you make your workplace more remote-ready, book a demo with us today.

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