Remote work has become increasingly popular over the last few years. That is of course partly due to the global pandemic that forced employees into home offices and companies to rethink their approach to remote work. But it has also shown to increase productivity as well as overall happiness and satisfaction of employees.
That is why many businesses are going remote – or at least plan to do so in the future. However, going remote in an effective and planned manner is very different from quickly adhering to new social distancing rules.
There are many mistakes you can make along the way that can not only negatively affect your business, but also impact your employee’s experience and motivation. And if you want to avoid these mistakes, it’s best you know what they are.
So, without further ado, let’s explore the top 5 mistakes companies make when going remote.
1. Going remote without a remote work policy
After realising that remote work is in fact manageable when forced into home offices by a pandemic, many companies have continued to allow their employees to work remotely – but have neglected to create a proper remote work policy.
A remote work policy basically is the rulebook for remote companies, defining the individual regulations of remote work. Setting clear expectations is crucial for having a happy and productive remote workforce. If your employees are unsure when, where, and how to work, they are probably spending more time worrying about doing the right thing, than working on their actual tasks.
Defining boundaries and openly communicating what is and isn’t allowed under your new remote policy sets a clear framework for both you and your employees to move in, and avoids misunderstandings.
A remote work policy should include regulations and information on the following topics:
- Who is allowed to work remotely (as this might affect some but not all departments and teams)
- Location of work (home office or fully remote)
- Work hours and response times
- Provided equipment
- Preferred communication channels
- How performance is measured
- Guidelines around compliances and data security
2. Expecting a remote work culture to develop on its own
This is very similar in a sense to developing a remote work policy, but focuses more on the social interactions and inner workings and relationships within remote teams. Going remote is a huge change for your employees. They were probably used to spending time together in the office with their colleagues, having in-person meetings and the occasional afternoon coffee chat.
All of these physical experiences now have to be transported into the digital realm. And expecting that an established work culture is simply going to adapt with time is a huge mistake companies make when going remote.
You can and should actively shape your new work culture and foster team spirit amongst your employees. This means leading by example and instigating social interactions even if they are virtual. There are many ways in which you can socialize from the comfort of your home office, and introducing some new routines or virtual lunches can help your team adapt to their new working circumstances.
3. Creating data silos and not sharing information
Sharing information happens organically in many office situations: You quickly walk over to your teammates desk and share some information from a meeting you had, or you mention something in passing when meeting a colleague in the hallway.
But when working remotely, you have to actively create these situations and remember to share information with your team. This is even more important when working across different time zones.
Making it a priority for everyone to write down or share information in a different form is a big part of successful collaboration amongst distributed teams. Setting up proper guidelines around documentation can help remind everyone to share, at least until you are all settled in the new remote work environment and start doing so naturally.
4. Locally limiting your hiring process
One of the many benefits of remote work is opening your business up to hiring the best talent in the world. You are no longer restricted to looking for local talent, but can rather expand your reach to new markets and attract the most experienced workers, no matter their living situation.
However, many companies that are new to the remote game are not fully leveraging this potential and are still limiting themselves by only looking for talent in a certain area, city, or country.
This is a big mistake, and one that can easily be avoided. Employers of Record, for example, can even help you collaborate with local partners to hire employees from overseas and comply with labor laws and tax regulations.
5. Not fully committing to remote work
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes companies can make is not fully committing to remote work. This leaves them and their employees hanging in an in-between state of working from home or remotely, but not really knowing what the rules are or how long they will be allowed to do this for.
Not fully committing often also sees employees unsure of the expectations around their work, or the general working conditions not being adapted to remote work. This relates to meetings that are handled as if everyone would still be in the office, or excluding remote employees from physical meetings all together.
This hybrid state is only causing confusion and disruptions within teams. If you want to offer remote work to your employees, you should fully commit and not get stuck between two worlds – the old and the new state of work.