Making Work-from-Home Work for Your Business

January 12, 2021  |  By Phoenix Management  |  3 Minute Read

As the COVID-19 crisis persists, many companies are extending the remote work policies first enacted in March 2020 into the new year. Meanwhile, other organizations that recognized revenue savings by removing overhead costs and adopting digital infrastructures are moving to permanent work-from-home operations for some or all of their employees.

While remote work continues to have an impact on companies—both positive and negative—taking a strategic approach to managing your work-from-home team is key for continued organizational success.

The Impact of Remote Work from an Employee Perspective

Working from home requires some getting used to, and there are a number of positives and negatives for employees when switching to a remote work model.

One of the top benefits employees cite when discussing work-from-home is greater flexibility in terms of hours and location. In a Boston Consulting Group study, 60% of employees said they want some flexibility in where and when they work. Flexibility allows employees to be more present for their families, young children, and other non-work obligations. However, this same flexibility can present a host of distractions that decrease productivity. In addition, it can hinder collaboration, which often benefits from face-to-face interactions, and can negatively impact morale for employees who are unaccustomed to remote work.

Employers must be able to make work-from-home truly work for all of their employees. With management’s oversight and encouragement, workers will succeed in their roles no matter where they’re located. The following are some tips on how employers can provide their team with a better remote work experience:

  • Leverage video chatting. Employers should recommend that leaders use video chatting for virtual face-to-face meetings with their reports. This will keep the line of communication open and improve working relationships.
  • Get innovative with remote experiences. Try remote team building exercises, happy hours, and get-to-know-you video sessions to build camaraderie with the team. Interacting with colleagues in a relaxed, remote setting can boost morale.
  • Create a regular check-in process. Having regular check-ins where employees can communicate challenges and managers can provide feedback will help work processes flow smoother. Harvard Business Review found that 46% of employees polled said that the most successful managers check in frequently with remote workers, rather than leaving them to work on their own.
  • Provide ongoing communication. Communication is the most important aspect of a successful work environment, especially during periods of change. For workplaces that have only temporarily shifted to remote operations, it’s particularly important to regularly communicate timeline and procedural updates for a return to in-person operation.

Effectively Managing Remote Employees from a Business Perspective

From the employer perspective, there are also a number of positives and negatives when switching to a work-from-home model, whether temporarily or permanently. One benefit of having a remote workforce is the reduced overhead costs while employees are at home. There will naturally be a reduction in travel costs, utilities, and complementary office offerings (e.g. coffee and snacks)—or no need to pay for a physical space if remote work becomes permanent. Other positives include increased collaboration with employees across sites, and the motivation to embrace digital tools and new technology to improve efficiency. However, remaining remote can cause some employees to lose a sense of company culture and community. In addition, there can also be negative impacts on productivity and employee loyalty as people remain physically far apart. In order to make work-from-home really work for your business, here are some areas that employers should focus on:

  • Invest in communication tools. Workers need to be able to communicate no matter where they are. Platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams can help colleagues work together, and implementing weekly or daily catchups with the team keeps everyone on the same page.
  • Develop an effective onboarding process. Onboarding new hires can be tricky when everything is remote—so create an effective process that allows new hires to “meet” the team virtually and learn their roles and responsibilities.
  • Continue to provide training. Ongoing training and reevaluation of best practices is always important, whether people are in-office or at home. Employers should keep up with training—for the benefit of both employees and the business. According to the Association for Talent Development, companies that invest in employee training achieve a 24% higher profit margin than those that don’t.
  • Create realistic and task-driven plans for employees. Firm plans, processes, standards and procedures, milestones, and goals will help workers stay productive and motivated even when they are out of the office. Ensure that tasks and plans also have built-in flexibility to allow for the realities of working from home.

Taking a Strategic Approach to Remote Work Improves Business Objectives

The unexpected shift to work-from-home had a major and unforeseen impact on most organizations’ operational and financial performance throughout 2020. But by taking a strategic approach to work-from-home, rather than treating it as a temporary and inconvenient situation, companies can maintain—or even improve—their financial and organizational success.

Phoenix professionals provide the invaluable experience and insight businesses need in times of change and uncertainty. We offer a range of turnaround services that can help companies ensure that their employees remain productive and motivated while working remotely. Contact us to learn more about how to strategize your work-from-home policy.

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