The past few years have brought their fair share of challenges, but it has also opened our eyes to the many benefits of remote work. The pandemic may have forced companies to make a shift, but it has resulted in a more flexible and inclusive work environment. With remote work, employees can now work from their desired locations, which means no more rush hour commutes. Meanwhile, companies are now able to tap into a global pool of talent and save on the costs of office space. It's a win-win situation for everyone!
As the world is slowly recovering from the pandemic, organizations are starting to return to the office, whether in a hybrid or full-time role. However, some employers like Elon Musk are pushing for employees to return to the office full-time. Despite this, more employees are placing more value on working from home and the flexibility it offers. Employers are also reaping the benefits of remote work, saving an average of $11K per year per employee. Organizations need to strike a balance between in-office and remote work, taking into account the needs of both employees and the company.
How to Enhance Remote Work Productivity
#1 - Help Establish Dedicated Home Workspaces
Establishing a distinct workspace at home is necessary for remote workers. Nearly 40% of WFH employees say they occasionally work from their bedrooms, dining rooms, or even their couches, even though 75% of them claim to have a dedicated home office. One in five people admits that they occasionally work in a closet or their kitchen! That can't possibly be effective.
A better strategy is to assist and encourage your staff to set up personal workplaces in their homes. Consider issuing laptops and printers to staff for use at the office so they won't have to use their less secure personal devices. If required, you might even wish to invest in or provide funding for home office furniture for folks who would otherwise work from their kitchen countertops or couches in their living rooms.
At Carbon Edge, every new member of the team is welcomed with a CE-branded welcome package that includes their work laptop, earbuds, tumblers, shirts, desk organizers, wireless charger, and a $50 Amazon gift card! We encourage our team members to decorate and improve their workstations so they feel "at home". After a year of working remotely, we found that our team members were able to form stronger connections and better relationships with each other, despite the physical distance. The welcome package also made each of us feel like valued members of the company, which in turn led to increased productivity and job satisfaction. We believe that investing in our team members and their work environments is a key factor in our success as a remote company.
#2 - Provide an Efficient Document Management Solution
Imagine the frustration of having to distribute physical documents or try to send digital files over email. Not only is it time-consuming, but it can also lead to delays and confusion. But with a document management system, all of your company's files and papers are placed in a secure, digital location, usually in the cloud, accessible to all employees no matter where they are working from.
The provision of an effective document management system will address the need for online file sharing. All of your company's papers are placed in a digital location, generally in the cloud, via file management software so that remote employees working from home may easily access them. The ability for teams to securely share documents instantaneously fosters collaboration and increases productivity. An efficient remote workforce requires the use of document management systems with remote access.
At Carbon Edge, we go completely digital. We utilize Microsoft's SharePoint to keep our documents accessible and organized. Our team could easily collaborate simultaneously with the documents uploaded to SharePoint, making it easy to review and update our work.
#3 - Provide Other Online Collaboration Tools
In today's digital age, there are a plethora of online tools available to help your team work together seamlessly, no matter where they are located. With the right set of tools, your team can collaborate in real time, share documents and files, hold virtual meetings, and even brainstorm and ideate together, all from the comfort of their own homes. Here are just a few examples of the types of online collaboration tools that can make a real difference for your remote team:- Virtual meeting platforms: like Zoom, Webex, and Google Meet
- Real-time collaboration tools: like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Asana
- Online whiteboarding tools: like Miro, Jamboard, Stormboard
- File sharing and storage platforms: like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive
For us, we utilize Microsoft Teams and Outlook to simulate an environment as if our teammates are sitting next to us. Whenever one of us has a question, we could do a quick call or text via teams message as if we turned around in our chairs and spoke to the other person in the office. We also use the Teams availability feature to tell others if we are "away" or "busy" to indicate that we are currently "not in the office" and will respond later.
#4 - Keep It Organized
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to focus on the present. Leave previous projects behind and keep everyone's schedules and to-do lists firmly focused on the current task at hand. To create the attention required to increase remote productivity, delete outdated tasks, and archive outdated emails. This will help you and your team stay on track and prioritize what's important.
#5 - Promote Informal Discussions and Keep the Fun Alive!
Employees engage in both official (in meetings) and casual (in the hallway, dropping by each other's offices, at lunch, and during other interactions at work. The same settings for informal conversations that foster teamwork and boost productivity are not available to remote workers. You must give them a means of informal internet communication aside from scheduled group video conferences. This could entail text conversations, casual Zoom meetings, and other things.
Office banter is great for bonding and developing a sense of community and belonging. According to a survey done by HRZone, 73% of employees indicated that they would not want to prohibit playful or friendly conversations in the workplace. Employees understand the importance of office banter and the benefits of building good relationships with co-workers. So don't be afraid to encourage it (depending on your company culture of course)!
To keep our workplace fun and lively, we don't shy away from sending gifs, fun zoom backgrounds, overdrawn calls, discussing current trends, going on random tangents in conversations, and sharing trivial matters that happened to us! Just last December, we hosted a Holiday Extravaganza event online where we partnered with 180drinks and invited the whole team to take a mixology class. New hires got to meet the whole company and our team got to take a nice and fun break from their busy schedule just before the holidays.
While having fun, we also recognize that working from home means that team members may have to deal with sudden family or personal matters, so we like to keep in mind to respect other teammates' boundaries and their time.
In addition, we also encourage our team to pick up new hobbies outside of work. Other than encouraging them to join training programs and conferences, we also provided full access to MasterClass, a course-based subscription done by celebrities and experts, so that the team can learn about new things from the best people in the world.
#6 - Over-Communicate
Miscommunication could often happen when meeting remotely. To ensure that your remote employees truly understand crucial messages, try overcommunicating with them. Encourage each member to write down the key points in a discussion so that they could be referred back to.
In our marketing team, we do a daily 30-minute morning standup in which we talk about what we did the day prior, what our tasks would be for the day, and discuss matters that require attention. At the end of the call, we make sure everyone has written down tasks on their list, whether online or on paper, and do a quick recap. At the end of the day, we also do a quick call if needed to ensure progress is made and to keep each other accountable.
#7 - The 1%. Meet up in person!
At Carbon Edge, we understand the importance of face-to-face interaction and we make it a point to meet up in person at least 1% of the time. This could be in the form of team retreats, conferences, or even just a casual get-together. For example, later this January we are planning a kickoff in which we fly everyone in for a two-day event. Some team members would be meeting each other in person for the first time
As a recap, here are the top seven tips that we at Carbon Edge implemented and found successful:
#2 - Provide an efficient document management solution
#3 - Provide other online collaboration tools
#4 - Keep it organized and focused on the present
#5 - Promote informal discussions and keep the fun alive!
#6 - Over-communicate to ensure that your messages are understood
#7 - Encourage breaks and self-care
#8 - Host events and activities that bring the team together, even if it's just 1% of the time.
In conclusion, by incorporating the tips we've outlined and investing in team members and their work environments, companies can create a productive and enjoyable remote work culture. At Carbon Edge, we've seen the positive impact of this approach, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction. So don't be afraid to embrace change and take advantage of the opportunities that remote work has to offer. With the right approach and the right tools, you can create a remote work environment that fosters productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction. Happy remote working!