Flexible work arrangements are offering incredible benefits to companies and employees alike. However, it’s not a given that all companies and employees thrive in today’s virtual work environment. Business leaders should ask themselves, “is our work-from-home policy designed for employees to succeed or fail?”
Here are a few elements to consider to make sure you’re keeping remote work and your new day-to-day running smoothly.
WFH Perks Are Undeniable
Employees often benefit when they ditch their commutes; not only do they gain nearly an hour of time back every day, but they may also save about $4,000 a year. Plus, added flexibility allows them to be present more with their families and prioritize their needs, making for happier employees who are grateful to their employers.
Companies themselves are also recognizing significant cost savings. According to Forbes, “before the pandemic, employers saved an average of $11,000 per half-time remote employee. Extrapolate that to a full year and every remote worker is reducing company costs by $22,000.”
However, working from home is not without its challenges. Follow these tips to get the most out of this arrangement:
Do: Keep to a Schedule
Working from home often means having some leeway when it comes to the times a person is on the clock. That flexibility can reduce stress and make it easier to accommodate personal work styles. However, if a person procrastinates, that level of freedom may come back to haunt them. Also, workaholics may never truly leave their “office” since it’s part of their home. To remedy this situation, create a schedule, even if it’s not a 9-5.
Don’t: Work in Pajamas
Working from home often means less casual attire than in the office. Unfortunately, when employees yawn and open their laptops without changing out of their PJs, it can impact their mental health. One survey found that 59% of people who wear pajamas when working from home suffer a decline in mental health. In comparison, just 26% of those who get dressed every morning experienced a similar impact.
Do: Keep Connected
Working from home can feel isolating. It is possible to combat those feelings by staying connected to co-workers. Scheduling regular video calls to discuss projects helps people feel like they are part of a company and working toward common objectives. Even short 15 minute check-ins should prove helpful.
Don’t: Fall Victim to Zoom Fatigue
Scheduling meetings is essential, but back-to-back Zoom calls may become too much of a good thing. If it’s necessary to hold many meetings, making employees feel that they can turn the camera off when needed can be useful. Constantly feeling on display and needing to be “fully on” may cause distractions and lead to exhaustion.
Do: Have Good Places to Work
Being comfortable is key, but it’s best to find places at home that promote productivity and good posture. Having a location where other members of the household can’t cause distractions is best. Occasionally switching rooms is also helpful for a change of scenery- even if it’s from the living room to the kitchen. Shaking things up like the environment and view can help combat afternoon fatigue. It’s also great to work outdoors or in a coffee shop for a fresh environment once in a while too.
Don’t: Get Caught Up in Personal Chores or Calls
Employees shouldn’t ‘abuse’ work from home flexibility to a level where it impacts their productivity and focus. Piles of unfolded clothes might taunt employees who spend hours working a few feet away. While clearing up space and removing household distractions is important, it can spiral into a never ending cycle of house cleaning that leaves workers logged off for too long. As a result, these individuals may need to work later into the evening to make up the time. Leaving housework for after working hours is important for staying focused.
Do: Ask For Help
Employers should be supporting their remote workers with the tools they need to do their job. If an employee needs a captioning or transcription service, audio description technology or other solutions to perform their duties, they should communicate those needs to the company.
WFH From The Employer Perspective
To promote a positive WFH policy and reap the benefits of happier employees, employers should enlist the following strategies:
Do: Set Clear Milestones
When working from home, employees need a way to showcase their productivity. Setting clear objectives and deadlines for your team allows them greater opportunities for recognition and keeps things on track. These individuals might be a company’s most productive in many cases. In fact, research shows they work an average of three extra weeks a year compared to in-office employees.
Don’t: Overlook Remote Employees Because they Aren’t in the Office
Studies show that employers often overlook remote workers when it comes to promotions. There is an often unconscious bias toward the people managers and other leaders see in person. However, as mentioned, remote workers are often highly productive. Also, since they skip their commute, many of them put in extra time compared to their in-office counterparts. Ensuring fairness may require a conscious effort to evaluate employees based on their work, not whether they were at the water cooler.
Do: Put Communication and Accessibility Tools in Place
Technology makes working from home more feasible. Tools like Asana can facilitate better team collaboration. Slack offers easy opportunities to connect to get instant answers to questions throughout the day rather than being buried in someone’s inbox. Zoom lets people connect from a distance. However, for these resources to work effectively, they must also be accessible to diverse individuals. For example, Verbit offers an integration into Zoom to provide live captions and transcriptions directly in the platform to make meetings and events accessible even without sound. This feature is a great asset for those with hearing loss or ADHD.
Don’t: Forget About Security
Work from home arrangements mean that employees connect from various places. These work conditions often involve the use of open Wi-Fi networks from coffee shops and the like. Employees should be aware of risks when storing and sharing important information in the cloud via emails and more. Modern companies need to take extra precautions against data breaches. Part of this process will require vetting vendors to ensure they have robust security standards in place.
Do: Check-In Frequently with Workers
Gone are the days of watercooler conversations. Employers and managers should look to schedule daily or weekly interactions when workers are remote to check in with them and troubleshoot any challenges. Managers should plan one-on-one time with employees so that they can have an open conversation about any road bumps their teammates may be facing. It’s important to identify those issues early and brainstorm ways to improve the situation. It’s also important to realize that the human element often slips away when it comes to remote work and task assignments. Managers should make an effort to check-in with their employees on a personal level as well to understand where they stand in terms of their mental health and simply to connect on a deeper level with them and build bonds.
Don’t: Micromanage Remote Employees
Most employees do not want to be micromanaged. While checking in is great, sometimes too much checking in can come off as micromanagement at its core. Constant communication aimed at ensuring workers are making progress can be distracting and reduce productivity. Employers should be able to trust that their employees are doing their jobs. Measuring the employee’s performance in terms of completed tasks is preferable to calling or pinging them while they are trying to work.
The Key Takeaway
The remote work experiences of corporate leaders and employees in recent years indicate that it is possible to have a productive and successful virtual workforce. Creating a policy and best practices will improve the chances of remote workers offering meaningful contributions and being thankful to their employers for facilitating an enjoyable, flexible work environment.
Verbit is one partner you can consider to improve remote communication and accessibility for events, meetings and training sessions while working remotely. Contact us to learn more about how our tools like captioning and transcription support an inclusive, productive remote workforce.