How to make remote work, work – successful remote work guidelines
Having a fully distributed team can be challenging, but if you have the right guidelines in place, your teams can reap the full benefits of remote work.
Remote work is here to stay. And businesses need effective remote work guidelines to adjust to the changes.
When COVID-19 forced the world into the largest work from home experiment, companies big and small have had to grapple with how to make remote work, work.
Having a fully distributed team can be challenging, but if you have remote work guidelines in place, your teams can reap the full benefits of the new normal.
So what are the work-from-home guidelines you should include in your business?
Remote work guidelines
1. Make sure your remote team wants to be remote
Work with them as an apprentice before hiring them
It can be hard to hire someone remotely. It’s difficult to get a sense of who they are through a Zoom call. One solution to this is not hiring candidates right away but working with them through a digital apprenticeship. Over three months, you can work with apprentices to see the quality of their work and how well they fit your team’s culture. Then after the apprenticeship, bring them on full time.
Would they rather be in an office?
When you bring on a new full-time member to your team, make sure they want to work remotely. If your employees are waiting for the time when work will return to an office, they won’t fully accept working remotely. This will affect how effective they are in their role, and they will be more likely to complain about remote work rather than trying to make it work for them.
Take a look at their home environment. Do they have a quiet and peaceful place to work? Do they live alone? Do they have children? How likely are they to be distracted by family and friends?
Distractions and isolation can grow into a problem, so it’s important to make sure your team is both happy and productive when working from home.
Remote employees don’t have the opportunity to learn from your example as they’re used to in a regular office. So when hiring, make sure you have a training program that will familiarize newcomers with your company goals and daily workflows. More on that later.
2. Does your team have the proper tools to work remotely?
Ensure your remote employees have a stable Internet connection, communications software, file sharing opportunities, and everything required for working on projects. The basic set can include a laptop, Bluetooth and wireless keyboards (or ergonomic keyboards), a wireless mouse, noise-cancelling headphones, a wireless headset (or a USB headset), USB-C hubs/docks, etc.
Help them separate personal and work operations. Coach them on how to stay productive when working from home. One of the primary benefits of remote work guidelines is that it offers more flexibility. Give them the autonomy to complete their work when they’re at their best.
For some, this could be early in the morning; others, at night. Giving your team members this freedom will empower them to do their best work.
3. Uplift and encourage
Don’t try and recreate in-office structures online
There’s no need to pretend that nothing has changed. Remote work is fundamentally different from office work, so don’t transfer office work patterns to employees’ personal space.
Encourage employees to share their experience working remotely
Encourage your employees to share practical ways that they’ve made working from homework for them. This will help you determine how to improve your remote work guidelines.
For example, if someone uses a chess clock to switch between work and non-work hours – let them share their experience. Such tips can help someone else and encourage people to explore new ways to stay productive.
Build company culture intentionally
Remote employees may miss a sense of company culture while working remotely, and it can be challenging to create and maintain a culture through Slack or Microsoft Teams. To help with this, you can create engaging video tutorials and use video conferencing services like Google Hangouts to connect face-to-face.
Create onboarding videos for new employees
You can also record onboarding videos for your future employees. Use videos to inspire your team and reinforce basic concepts about the company culture (such as your vision and goal).
Keep in mind that your remote team consists of real people who need to communicate with other real people. Employees can communicate and interact outside of work, but it’s also great to meet those needs when working online. This is especially important in positions that don’t involve much person-to-person communication.
Make sure your remote team knows their value
Employees need to feel they are contributing to their team’s goal and that they are also valuable for the company.
Here are a few ways to help employees feel valued:
- Create and maintain non-work-related communication;
- Share a vision of the company’s future;
- Keep the team informed about how things are going. People want to know their contributions are important;
- Involve your entire team in important events and projects;
- Send meaningful birthday gifts and highlight special occasions;
- Ensure every employee doesn’t feel like an individual worker but an important part of the family. It’s worth it.
4. Remote work guidelines aren’t about control
Remote work should not affect the usual rhythm of the business. Therefore, it’s crucial to establish routines. Daily morning and afternoon calls, for example, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., can help. Discuss plans in the morning and summarize the day in the evening.
For this, you can organize video conferences where the team shares short 2-minute reports on what was done yesterday and what is planned to be done today.
Do not cross the line with controlling your employees. You don’t want to make your employees dread daily standups. Instead, set the tone that it’s a time to briefly connect, get a sense of what others are working on and remind each other that they are part of a team working towards common goals.
Explain to your employees that working from home does not mean working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Negotiated working hours can also help avoid professional burnout.
You can use Loom to record videos of your desktop and Doodle to schedule meetings. We use the Loom app for recording screencasts. It both records videos and automatically uploads them to our server. In addition to Loom, Doodle is a simple tool for scheduling meetings with multiple people. You put in potentially suitable time slots, and each participant marks the ones convenient for them.
5. Ensure security
In many industries and large companies, remote access to corporate documents, information systems, and databases is prohibited by regulatory or security requirements.
SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) that have no such prohibitions should know the basics of cyber hygiene:
Two-factor authentication, strong passwords, and reliable anti-malware software
Teach your remote team to pay attention to connection security, avoid opening emails from unknown senders, and websites or banners with suspicious ads.
Any remote access, especially mass access, increases the vulnerability of the company and customer data. That’s why you should limit remote employees’ access to corporate systems and databases to only those sets of data required to perform work tasks.
6. Don’t be a micro-manager
Allow your remote employees to work autonomously and don’t constantly check on every little task. This can make them feel like you don’t trust them.
The best way to make sure work gets done is to set clear expectations but allow the remote team members freedom to decide how they’ll meet them.
What remote work guidelines will you implement?
Remote work may be new to your company or team. It’s essential not to recreate the same in-office structure online. Instead, by implementing the remote guidelines outlined in this article you’ll grow a team that makes remote work, work for them.
Build a team that wants to work from home. Not a team that is just waiting to get back to “normal” and work in an office. Lean into the benefits of remote work by giving your teams more autonomy, independence, and flexibility with these guidelines.
Remote work is the new normal, and the companies that accept that will be the ones that are still around in the future.
Kamelia Stone is the Senior Content Manager at the company Cleverfiles.com and has more than 20 successful projects. She collaborates with famous bloggers, authors of sites like Entrepreneur and others.
Ryan Carruthers is the Content Marketing Manager at Together Software, a company that builds software to help enterprise companies run effective mentorship programs within their organizations. Ryan was an Acadium apprentice and leveraged his apprenticeship experience to get a job at Together.
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