5 Steps to a Thriving Business with Remote Employees
Many eCommerce businesses are embracing a more flexible work approach for their employees, especially as the COVID-19 global pandemic takes hold. While the impetus of this new way of collaboration is deeply unfortunate, there is a bright side for you and your team. Research shows there are numerous benefits that can come with implementing a remote work policy, such as improved employee satisfaction, expanded talent pool, and increased productivity.
According to a recent study by Fundera, 86% of employees say they’re most productive when they work alone—devoid of distractions like inefficient meetings, office banter, or loud office spaces. And in the past ten years, a whopping 83% of U.S. businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one.
This is great news for employees and businesses alike, but something that could stand in the way of reaping the benefits? Not having clear guidelines and communication strategies. Here, we break down remote work policy guidelines to consider.
5 Ways to Implement a Remote Work and Communication Strategy
As you implement a work from home strategy, it’s important to first understand what your employees need from you in order to do their work and maintain a successful flow of communication.
Here are a few approaches to communication strategies that you can start with today:
1. Address why and for how long your business is moving to a WFH policy
If COVID-19 is the reason why you are moving your staff to a standard of remote work, this may only be a temporary solution. Still, it’s imperative to do the following:
Express empathy and dedication to employees’ wellbeing. During a time of uncertainty, it’s important to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and to keep in mind that this could be an adjustment for those directly and indirectly affected by the switch to WFH. State what your company is doing to keep employees' wellbeing and safety top of mind.
Clearly state how long staff will be expected to work from home. If this is only a temporary solution, your employees will be looking for a sense of clarity in the amount of time they'll be expected to work remotely. If you're unsure of the period of time necessary, you could - for example - start off with two full work weeks remote and then reassess the situation.
Open up a line of communication to those affected by the new remote work policy. Managers and senior leadership should be ready to field questions that come up throughout this period of change, such as the state of the business and whether there is an expectation to cut any of the workforce.
2. Make sure your remote employees have the tools they need
Before rolling out your WFH policy, you should first check in with your employees and get some general input on how they’re feeling about the shift to working from home. Be mindful of unique needs and check that each staff member has a safe, adequate place to work, a reliable laptop, and access to other technology necessary to their role.
Aside from immediate needs, here are a few others to consider:
- High-speed internet access
- A secure VPN for those working with sensitive information
- Protocol in place for tech support to address issues
- Stipend for miscellaneous office supplies (Shopify, for example, gave each of their employees $1,000)
3. Designate specific working hours
Just because employees are no longer commuting to work doesn’t necessarily mean they should be expected to be online earlier or for extended hours. Employees may have morning routines, such as dropping their children off at a caretaker’s home. Be conscientious of all employees’ needs and set reasonable working hours as you would expect within the office, such as 9:00 am - 5:00 pm in their respective time zone.
4. Audit your communication tools and meeting schedules
If you’re moving from an in-office to remote work policy, chances are that your staff was doing a considerable amount of in-person communication on the fly that will need to be taken online. As a senior leader or manager, you’ll want to make sure that team and 1-on-1 meeting cadences still work, and make adjustments where necessary. Chat and conferencing applications such as Slack and Zoom are excellent for remote work.
5. Consider creative ways to bring the team together
Technology allows for plenty of ways to bring your team together, through means such as virtual morning stand-ups, Slack channel banter, or even digital happy hours. Think about how your team likes to bond and get creative with it.
Yaguara, for example, is introducing a local lunch challenge to encourage employees to bond from afar while simultaneously supporting their local restaurants and coffee shops that have been closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our CEO, Jonathan Smalley also sent a four-pack of Guinness to his staff’s homes to virtually celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
If your organization has recently moved to remote work, this is a great opportunity to build a foundation for success and employee satisfaction. Keep in mind that success begins with detailing your policy and expectations regarding communication, getting employee buy-in, and ensuring your staff has what they need. Tackle this first step strategically and with empathy, and the results will follow.