After experiencing the flexibility of working from home, remote work is becoming a more permanent option for employees. As employers also see the benefits of offering remote or hybrid schedules, implementing a remote work policy has benefits for everyone.
The overnight shift to remote work made it nearly impossible for many employers to strategically implement work from home policies. Instead of being able to consider how to foster the best experience for staff, employers had to focus more on keeping the ship afloat during a crisis. Now that we’ve all tried remote work, it’s safe to say we’ve learned a lot from all of our successes and failures. Now it’s time to use this insight to reassess what makes a good remote policy and what doesn’t.
To create the best environment for remote employees going forward, here are a few wrong approaches to implementing a work from home policy:
Not providing the right tools
When an employee works outside of the normal office, employers are still responsible for helping them create the best work environment possible. While we’ve all learned that there are variables outside of our control that can impact an employee’s productivity, equipping staff with the proper technology is a critical first step to helping them succeed at home.
In addition to equipment, remote employees must have the communication tools to easily call, instant message, and video chat with people both internally and externally. The more you invest in providing these tools, the more your employees can focus on productivity rather than the difficulties that can come with communicating remotely.
Not facilitating connection
With employees siloed in their homes, it’s important to ensure they are still making connections with their fellow employees. Without office interactions or the occasional happy hour, this can be a challenge, and it can be easy to make mistakes.
For example, simply turning on your camera and seeing each other face-to-face can make a big impact on your ability to connect. Additionally, the culture of Zoom meetings can mean that you typically get straight to business. However, it’s critical that you continue to get to know remote employees and make time for the fun conversation they’re missing in the office.
Tip: On the flip side of that coin, be sure that you aren’t mandating fun either–most employees do not want to stay on their computer after work hours for a mandatory activity. Instead, try to find more natural opportunities for employee bonding in your team’s day-to-day.
Not trusting employees
For many employers who were not early adopters of work from home options, it may have been difficult to feel comfortable trusting employees outside of the office. However, employees can often sense that distrust, which doesn’t foster a very positive environment.
Additionally, this level of micromanagement can be counterproductive. With some employers requiring check-ins multiple times per day or a recap at the end of every day, that’s time that could’ve been spent getting more work done.
Finding the right level of communication that creates space to accomplish work while keeping everyone updated is important to building trust between all parties.
Not allowing other flexibility
While the ability to work from home may be viewed as a nice perk, it’s critical that employers understand that offering remote work options does not mean you can eliminate other sources of flexibility. Employees may have been working from home, but that does not make them immune to burnout.
Additionally, having your work and home in the same place can easily blur personal boundaries, with many employees working later into the night and on weekends. While the flexibility of remote work is great, it is still important to be a strong proponent of taking time off, separating work hours from personal life, and prioritizing mental and physical health.