Today's trends for tomorrow's business
So You Need to Work Remotely?
March 25, 2020
Here’s how to make it easier
Even before the latest headlines changed the telecommuting landscape, working remotely has been appealing for a lot of reasons: You don’t have a soul-sucking commute, you’re in charge of your daily routine, and you can work for a company you love that just happens to be in a different city. (If you’re a remote worker in Vermont you can even get a cash bonus for being so awesome.)
According to research by HR consulting firm Robert Half, 77 percent of employees say they would take a job that allows telecommuting at least some of the time. And since 75 percent of managers say they are open to their employees telecommuting, it’s no surprise that working from home is a commonly-used perk used to attract new hires.
But here’s another interesting stat from the same research: 73 percent of workers would still prefer to work together in groups rather than independently away from the office. That’s a pretty radical contrast to the 12 percent who prefer off-site virtual collaboration and the 5 percent who just want to work autonomously off-site. And if you’re part of that 73 percent, and you work for a company that has recently enforced a fulltime work-from-home policy, you may have some adjusting to do.
Since IT/tech is already the second-most popular field for remote work, keeping remote workers feeling connected and happy is good for business. Here are some stressors remote workers face—and how to make them better.
Remote workers often worry about their, well, remoteness from their team. Companies that have a majority-remote staff often organize periodic retreats and all-staff meetings so that everyone can make in-person connections and feel a sense of camaraderie. But because of current events, these sorts of retreats are off the table for a while. Another situation you may face is if a remote worker that periodically visits your main office for meetings is suddenly grounded because of business travel restrictions. In both these instances, it’s important that both employees and managers make a conscious effort to keep offsite workers in the loop.
Solutions: Daily morning video conferences are a great way to touch base and let remote workers know what’s going on in the office and how various projects are progressing. And if you aren’t already using collaboration software, now is the time to try it: Google and Microsoft are is giving free access to G Suite and Teams for a limited time.
Time zone bingo
If your employees are in different time zones, you could be adjusting up to three hours in the United States (and way more if a worker is in Hawaii or elsewhere overseas).
Is the remote worker OK with 7am meetings in their time zone, or will you have to rearrange meeting times to include them? Will they feel disconnected if they log off at 3pm because it’s 5 where they live?
Solutions: If you haven’t already, square away expected hours for employees in every time zone now. This goes for remote managers, too. If a New York manager needs to have morning meetings but their team is in California, the team should be given a say in the matter.
Toxic office culture
It’s possible that forcing an entire team to work from home will cause some social friction, especially if it’s a team that’s used to working face-to-face.
Solutions: One of the great things about smaller businesses is that company culture can be changed much faster than in the enterprise world. And with one-third of employees working from home within the next 10 years, any company that isn’t remote-friendly is going to have some serious hiring and retention problems. This is a great opportunity to work through these issues and develop telecommuting processes that work well for your employees in the future.
Long-distance IT care
Being remote makes it a lot harder for an IT team to take care of a workers’ hardware needs, especially when it can take days to securely ship new tech or send something back for repair.
Solutions: Do not skimp on laptops, tablets, and printers for remote staff—quality, reliable tech will make them more productive (and happier, too).
An HP ZBook gives them the performance of a desktop with the mobility of a laptop; pair it with the Thunderbolt™ dock for portable, clutter-free docking.
Desktop users will like the size of HP®’s small-but-mighty mini desktops. A smart home printer like the HP Tango is the perfect size for a home office. Add in a good headset for business calls, such as the HP OMEN 800 headset, and they’ll be ready to get to work.