How to permanently build Working From Home into your business.
What was long referred to as ‘Flexible Working’, the idea of Working From Home (WFH) had until recently been the domain of very few of us in our standard working life. Taking a day per week or perhaps a day per month to work from home may have been the extent of our remote working experience. However the past 12 months have lifted the veil for almost all of us when it comes to working remotely.
New Ways of Doing Business
The advent of COVID 19 restrictions has forced businesses large and small to find new ways of doing business, new ways of engaging with their employees when being on site together is not an option. What many businesses have observed is that it is possible to maintain productivity and connectivity with their teams even when individuals are scattered in many locations. By extension, many employees have recognised that these new ways of working provide them with a better work life balance that is a priority going forward.
What’s the attraction?
For companies, the attraction of lower overheads, less travel, and adjusted cost of living salaries for employees are among some of the main wins when it comes to WFH. And for employees, avoiding commutes, attaining a better work life balance and working more creatively, top the list of why WFH suits them. When the world does move back to more standard work conditions and we can all be in an office together, how many businesses and employees will be looking to to hold on to their WFH status? And is it therefore time for companies to prepare themselves in the long term to support this new way of working? It’s likely that WFH is here to stay so here are a few things companies can bear in mind to help streamline that process.
The fundamental building blocks to make your company WFH-ready revolve around having the correct technological infrastructure in place. Figure out what your company needs and select software that provides you remote solutions for that. From Zoom, to Microsoft Teams, Slack to Messager, there are a number of options that can provide you the tech framework you need to keep your team connected to you and to each other, to provide document sharing and editing, file centralising, idea incubating and everything in between. Test some out before you commit to a long term subscription. It’s also key to ensure your team have access to a laptop, or desktop and any other hardware they’ll need whenever they are working. Resolve these issues up front and you’ll be off to a good start.
Output not Productivity
Businesses have long been run on the basis of productivity – how hard are people working, how much time do they spend on a project? From knowing when your employees ‘clock on’ and ‘clock off’ to stopping by their desks for informal chats and meetings, being physically present has always been a way for management to observe how effective their teams are. WFH changes the playing field and necessitates trusting your employees to deliver on their responsibilities whether they are being observed or not. It shifts the focus from productivity to output. Rather than keeping track of the minutes being spent on any one project, businesses will be required to refocus on the attainment of output and deliverables instead.
Support, support, support
The downside to less ‘observation’ of your employees is that it’s harder to support them. Seeing your team every day in an office or on site allows you to connect and support them in an informal way, providing them advice, professional guidance, and anything else they might need. When you’re not in the same office, it’s important that you put in place processes that will allow you to support your team remotely. From check-ins with HR to weekly team meetings, the provisions of mental health support to any other guidance and training that could be useful, putting a structure in place for your team to lean on will be essential.
Keep In Touch
You may be working remotely but you’re still working as a team and it’s vital to cultivate that team environment regardless of where everyone is. Set up Monday morning team calls or group chats for project brainstorming. Send out regular client and office updates, congratulate achievements and celebrate milestones just as you would do in an office. It does mean you have to rethink your communications style somewhat but increasingly we’ve become used to staying in touch using technology so these provide many methods to integrate into your business practices too. Tying in software that helps your team to work collaboratively can further encourage this contact.
Old or New Standards
The more traditional office standards of work and of interaction can feel very alien when you’re integrating WFH as an option but it’s important to stay true to your company standards and your brand objectives. Just because you’re communicating via Slack or Messenger should not permit people to maintain anything less than the standards you’d be expecting to be used on a company email or paper memo. Communicate this to your team and make sure that they understand that while the methods have changed, the company standards remain the same. The same goes for extra-company communications with clients or new business, even though we might be working from a kitchen rather than an office, our standards should remain on par with the company as a whole.
Whatever the level of WFH that you decide to integrate into your company moving forward, it’s clear that we all need to become comfortable with remote working being a permanent fixture in our professional lives. Finding ways to maximise its efficiency and support your teams while doing so will mark your business out from the rest.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.