In an increasingly connected world, going remote with your business operations is not just a luxury, but a necessity.
Led by software giants like Google who handle dozens of remote teams across the globe and use automation solutions to easily keep on top of things, even the smaller businesses with employees distributed around town are embracing the change to a remote.
As more and more businesses are transitioning to a remote workflow, many of them tend to forget it’s a bit more complex than just having a PC at home.
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Making the Switch to Remote
Switching to remote work takes more than just packing up and sending your employees home.
To be able to maintain the same level of efficiency and performance without physically working together requires proper planning and the right tools, not to mention the correct mindset.
Once you do get a handle on the unique challenges of remote work, the advantages over the usual office-based setup are readily apparent.
So roll up your sleeves and get ready as we tell you how to properly transition your office to remote work.
The Challenges of Taking the Remote Step
If you are going into remote work simply ‘because it makes things simpler’, think again. Working remotely is an entirely different beast from your traditional office system, and needs a whole new approach to truly leverage its potential.
The challenges you will have to deal with are:
1. Collaborating with Virtual Colleagues
There is a reason we had offices in the first place: people need to collaborate with each other to accomplish anything. Communication via email only is often not enough, and you need face-to-face conversations to get ideas across effectively.
But who said you need to have an office to work together?
Apart from the good old Skype, there are many new apps in the market today, both free and paid, that can help your workforce keep in touch without breaking a sweat.
And just because you don’t have an office does not mean you cannot meet up from time to time; it is a good idea to have regular meetings to keep everyone on the same wavelength and discuss ideas.
Depending on the size of the team, the meeting place can be a nice cafe or a temporary office rented for the day.
2. Handling a Remote Team and the Change in Team Dynamics
In the absence of direct meetings and physical interactions, it can be tricky to maintain a positive team dynamic. Thankfully, in this age of the Cloud, managing a virtual workforce is easier than ever.
Project management software can easily keep multiple teams working in sync on different projects without having to sacrifice on the results.
But managing a remote team goes beyond just using the right software and tools.
A company interested in going fully remote also needs to instill the right mindset, and manage through a sense of responsibility rather than fear or pressure.
Maintaining company culture is important so that employees feel that they belong even if they may not be physically present. You should be prepared however, on some negative consequences, as not all employees will respond well to the change.
Ensure that you make the transition as easy as possible, and never try to use brute force. The team should be on board with the proposed change before you even think about starting the process.
3. Managing Data and Keeping it Safe
The biggest hurdle faced in working remotely – surprisingly enough – is data management. While you might already use cloud solutions, when these are used for remote work, the workflow is very different.
File sharing services are plentiful nowadays, but more complex workflows require an enterprise solution that will answer all your requirements or even a fully custom solution.
This means the team will need a few lessons on cybersecurity and the latest cyber threats – from spotting suspicious emails to avoid public WiFi.
While you can save a few dollars by asking your employees to use their own devices, it’s not a good idea in terms of security. It’s better to make sure they have business devices at home, where they will have only approved software to reduce the risk of cyber threats.
The Advantages of Going Remote
If done right, transitioning to remote work can be a very rewarding experience, as it will bring lots of benefits to both sides. Here are some of them:
1. It’s Cost-Effective
The saving in expenses is the most obvious benefit that draws most businesses to going remote in the first place, so this does not need much explanation.
By doing away with a brick-and-mortar establishment, you can cut down on spending significantly, besides reducing ancillary expenditure that comes from running an office.
Even if you keep a core office running and are only expanding to remote work, you stand to benefit as the new methodology sees more and more of your workforce staying back at home to work instead of coming to the office itself, which means that you can downscale on your physical presence without adversely affecting your business operations.
2. Productivity will Skyrocket
This one may seem like a misnomer, but believe me, it is not. You can actually increase your efficiency and productivity by going remote rather than the other way round. The reason for this is twofold: flexibility and talent.
By not keeping to a traditional cubicle based setting, you give your employees more breathing space, letting them work on their terms. By measuring their contribution by the tasks completed rather than hours clocked, you provide a better incentive for increasing their performance.
Also, implementing remote hiring policies encourages applicants from far-flung regions to apply for your positions, which in turn lets you hire the best talent irrespective of your geographical location.
3. Everyone will have better Work-Life Balance
The grueling work schedule of these days leaves little time for spending time with family and pursuing hobbies.
This negatively impacts the mental health and the overall wellbeing of your employees. Taken too far, some may even burn out and end up dropping out of the restrictive environment of the general corporate office.
Giving your employees the option of working remotely helps them establish a healthier work-life balance by eking out more time for themselves and their families.
Not only does this allow them to plan their own schedules according to their convenience, but it also saves them valuable time and effort spent commuting to the office daily.
There are some hiccups to watch out for when transitioning from traditional office settings to remote work, but by following the advice outlined above, you can avoid most of them and hit the ground running.
Once you have gotten into the groove of things, working remotely really starts to shine in every aspect; from employee satisfaction to productivity and of course, your bottom line.
So unless your line of business absolutely needs you to have all your employees in one place, going remote is definitely a good idea.