COVID and advances in technology have combined to make remote working a new normal for business around the globe. But such a fundamental shift brings with it many new challenges; for both employees and employers. How do you make it work well – really well – for all parties? And what are the new best practice guidelines to follow?
The COVID pandemic has impacted so many aspects of life. For example, it’s fundamentally changed how we work and how many businesses operate, with remote working and working from home (WFH) now commonplace around the world.
And the future of work, including talent sourcing and hiring, is looking more and more ‘remote’ in nature.
According to a 2020 Gartner report, 74% of companies are planning for a permanent shift to some degree of remote work. This number is backed up by many subsequent surveys, including 2021 data from McKinsey which found that about 20-25% of the workforces in countries with advanced economies could work from home three to five days a week.
So perhaps it’s time now for employers and employees to look anew at this ‘new norm’ to ascertain best practice guidelines for the benefit of all.
A work from home policy is a great way for employers to start…
If you’re an employer, developing a new company-wide ‘Work From Home Policy’ is a great way to regulate every aspect of this new way of working. It should include everything from permissions, working hours and record-keeping, health and safety obligations, mental health and wellbeing services, remote worker entitlements, tax and insurances, confidential Information policy and procedures, equipment and more.
If you’re hiring an independent contractor, perhaps from another country, then you’ll also need to familiarise yourself with lots of additional rules and regulations. For example, you’ll need to know the difference between an employee and a contractor, the different types of relevant contractor or freelancer agreements and what they cover – for example:
- Scope of services
- Confidentiality and intellectual property rights
Hiring remote workers internationally may require a workforce management specialist
When hiring cross-border, it’s also critically important to establish which country’s laws apply, along with many other complex issues. For these reasons, best practice is best attained through partnering with an experienced international workforce management specialist like CXC which offers solutions such as a GEO/EOR (Global Employment Outsourcing/Employer of Record) structure to streamline the hiring process and ensure that employers are in full compliance at all times.
Remote workers need to develop their own best practice guidelines
If you’re an employee, then determining best practice – and what’s best for you – is an issue that’s mainly in your own hands. But there’s plenty of information available to help you get there.
For example, a 2022 remote work report commissioned by Nira found that remote workers are anxious about three main challenges surrounding remote working:
- Communication: Remote work makes it harder to read body language or properly understand what people are saying.
- A lack of social opportunities: With no office people struggle with a serious lack of social opportunities and interaction.
- Loneliness and isolation: Sitting at home alone day after day can leave you depressed or feeling down, and even feeling like you no longer belong.
However, with focus, determination and consistent effort, employees can overcome the challenges of remote work to create a healthy, happy, productive environment for themselves and their teams.
Some suggestions for more productive remote working
Sitting down with your co-workers and drafting up some guidelines for happy remote working is a good way to start. As mentioned, there’s plenty of reference material available on the internet since it’s issue that affects so many people worldwide.
Here are just a few:
1) Invest in meetings: Stay alert and engaged; practice good screen focus. Write notes and share them
2) Experiment with what makes you most productive: Where is your best workspace located? Try different start times, work from different places, and wear different types of clothing, etc.
3) Prioritize documentation and clear communication: Communication dynamics for remote workers are totally different than those for people who are together in an office. Make sure to document more than you would normally. For example, create documents to outline your ideas and delineate next steps. Be clear and concise.
4) Create boundaries between work and life: Boundaries between work and life get blurred for remote workers. This can be extremely unhealthy. Have working times, breaks and lunch time. Go for walks. Leave the house at the beginning and end of each day to mentally start and end your working day.
5) Schedule time for socializing: Create a social agenda and take time to really connect with other people and your team members.
6) Build relationships with your teammates: Getting to know your teammates beyond work will help you feel connected, be more productive, and feel happier at work.
7) Do post-mortems on key projects: A post-mortem is a written assessment that gets completed once a project is done to help assess how it went and what should happen differently next time. They also directly address the biggest challenge with remote work – communication and documentation.
8) Build in accountability: For example, have every team member provide daily or weekly reports and updates on their activities, thoughts and contribution.
9) Define your and the team’s responsibilities: On remote teams—where communication is more challenging and things can get lost in translation—it’s important to be crystal clear about responsibilities.
10) Focus on you and your health: Working from home can sap your energy and invite depression. Build a routine that includes regular walks and exercise, lunch times and breaks, and nourishing food.
These however, are just a few of the tips and hints available for remote workers. Why not use them as a starter for building a remote working program and policy for yourself; your team or even your company? Developing your own best practice guidelines is often the best way to go.
Like to know more about how CXC can help you attract and retain top talent for your business, including remote workers from all over the world? Or need more information about our GEO/EOR services that streamline your hiring and compliance issues? Then don’t hesitate to contact us today!