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Remote work is on the rise - support your virtual team

 

Remote working has become more and more common as developments in technology have allowed us to communicate and collaborate no matter where we are.  In fact, most of us are already logging on from home or holiday already.  In May 2018, Swiss serviced office provider IWG released a study that found that 70% of professionals work remotely at least once a week.

Sometimes called 'telecommuting', remote work is on the rise, and it's challenging traditional ideas about where and when work should take place.  Offering flexibility to your staff can be a valuable tool to both attract new talent and retain your existing team.  But before deciding to offer remote work, you need to make sure you are able to support this way of working.

Remote work has many benefits for a business.  Offering this option can mean that you retain employees through a change in their circumstances, for example, becoming a parent or relocating to a different part of the country.  When you are recruiting, the ability to offer an entirely remote position can mean that you are suddenly able to consider candidates from across the country, rather than limiting yourself to one area, or to people who are in the position to be able to relocate.

So what do you consider before introducing remote working?

When you're working with a distributed team, communication is key, and as the employer, it is your job to provide the resources and systems to make this happen. 

Typically, these might include:

  • Laptops and other tech as required
  • Compensation if an employee is using their home internet connection
  • A way to stay in touch with the team, beyond email.  Platforms like Slack are great for team communication
  • Guidelines around how often and in what way the entire team will catch up
  • Project management tools that are accessible for every worker

With these essentials in place, the biggest factor in making remote work a success is workplace culture.  Consider up-skilling your management team to make sure they are ready to support your remote staff or even to give them the skills to allow them to do their roles remotely.

Remote working can be isolating for an individual and sometimes the meaning in email and text can be lost so it is important to factor in a regular face-to-face meeting or video conference to bring co-workers together, enable mutual understanding and to build the team culture.

If you are planning to offer remote work to your team, make sure you have strong communication channels, and robust systems to support your flexible workers.

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