There’s no doubt about it: flexibility just works, especially in workplaces. We even have the science to back it up.
Bill Gates famously once said, “The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.”
Now a Harvard study aims to prove what the Microsoft founder has known all along. In a 2019 study, researchers found, “‘Work from anywhere’ arrangements were 4.4 percent more productive than those following a more traditional ‘work-from-home’ policy that gives schedule flexibility but requires workers to live near the office.”
Remote Working Top Challenges
Despite the benefits that working from home can provide employees and employers alike, there are still some challenges. When it comes to transitioning into a flexible work environment, the most common roadblocks include:
- Many workplaces don’t trust their employees
- Some jobs can’t be performed offsite
- Remote working doesn’t work without constant communication
- Many companies fail to invest in tools and apps to create seamless communication
Let’s start with the obvious: many workplaces simply don’t trust their employees. They want to know what they’re doing and when they’re doing it. Managers abhor the idea that their employees are out mowing the lawn when they should be working.
But when it comes to project-based tasks, it shouldn’t matter what employees are doing — as long as they get their work finished, right?
If you trust your employees with sensitive information, you should trust them to complete projects. Plus, research shows that employees become more productive when they work from home, not the other way around.
Yet working from home is only relevant when the job can actually be performed at home. Some jobs just plain require employees to be onsite.
But what if you can physically move your employees offsite and it’s still not working? Your communication strategy might be to blame. It’s imperative to take steps to keep your employees talking and collaborating, no matter where their physical bodies happen to be.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help keep the channels of communication open, including Slack, Google Hangouts and BeamPro. Make sure to utilize these tools to create a seamless work environment, even from home.
How to Transition to a Remote Working Environment
- Start Slow
When it comes to any kind of transition, slow-and-steady always wins the race. Your transition to flexibility, remote work environment will go smoother if you take baby steps. Start by giving your employees the opportunity to move off-site one day a week. Then two days a week.
Check-in with your employees and see how things are going each week. If you can pinpoint any problems or possible setbacks when employees are only working from home one day a week, it will be easier to scale back later without major setbacks.
- Stay in Touch
Don’t forget to stay in contact with your employees and encourage them to check in with each other if they’re remote workers. The act of transitioning isn’t just a one-and-done thing. When your employees are not on-site, it takes even more work to stay in contact with each other (at first at least).
- Get Some Face Time
Schedule some time for your employees to meet each other face-to-face. You can schedule in-office meetings, meetings in public spaces (like coffee shops), coworking spaces and even remote video chats. The important thing is that you’re checking in with each other. This allows you to follow up with your employees and ensure they have everything they need to do their jobs. It also opens up a forum for your employees to ask questions.
- Encourage Off-Site interaction
Just because your employees are working from home, doesn’t mean that they can’t still interact with each other just as much as if they would have in an office. Encourage employees to get together off-site.
Suggest coffee shops, bars, parks and public co-working spaces. The possibilities are endless. Encourage employees to meet in spaces that stimulate them creatively.