Opinion

Remote Working

Is it really the future of work?

Connor Ward

Connor Ward

We’re exploring the latest buzzwords and explaining what they mean for your company with our Future of Work series. This month we’re looking at remote working.

People love working from home.

But while remote working is an increasingly popular choice for workers, it remains a difficult subject for companies. It’s a major shift that many just don’t feel ready to take.

While companies like Automattic (the guys behind WordPress) have gone entirely remote, others are even beginning to turn away. IBM has recently reversed their pioneering remote working policies, in the hopes of boosting productivity.

If these guys aren’t sure about remote working, should you still consider it?

Here’s what remote working is all about

Remote working is when you give your team the option to work from wherever they want. It gives them choice and flexibility while letting them personalise the way they work, without distractions or travel worry.

Research shows these employees produce better work and stay loyal to their company. With 85% of millennials saying they want to remote work full time, it’s the future of work.

Setting up remote working is easy. Tools like intranets, video calls and instant messaging mean people can collaborate seamlessly from anywhere. A growing number of people are already using Facebook to get organised.

But, leading such a workforce doesn’t come without its challenges.

Here are the things you need to think about to make it work

1. Culture

When workers don’t speak to each other, they lose office camaraderie, and it can be hard to build an engaging culture.

The easiest thing to do is actually bring your employees together. Automattic does compulsory company wide meets all around the world. Not only that, they give each team their own budget to organise trips.

The cheaper day-to-day option is to start treating your intranet as your office. Use it to build a strong workplace community and make it an essential part of your day to day routine: like we’ve said before, have a plan and keep it relevant.

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2. Connection

When employees work outside of your view, it can be hard to monitor their output and work ethic. Not only that, there is a risk they will lose a connection with you, your team and your company. This causes poor reliability and retention.

According to research, 87% of workers feel more connected through video conferences, so integrate these into each day. Every Monday, have a global stand up. Give each employee 30 seconds to talk about what they’re going to do for the week.

If your business uses Gmail, choose Google Hangouts. You can connect directly with team members straight from within Gmail, or you can organise a group meeting from within Google Calendars.

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3. Work life balance

Research has shown that remote workers tend to work longer hours than their office based counterparts. Without an office routine, it’s hard for some workers to know when to stop. This can be a drain on your employees, and lead to poorer quality work.

In order to alleviate this you only need to do one thing: maintain a schedule. Despite all of the freedom you have given your workers, they should all be in sync.

You can opt to use project management tools like Basecamp to keep track of ongoing projects, or if that doesn’t suit your business needs you can do this within your intranet.

Twine’s Groups feature lets you set up discussion for individual teams or projects. Encourage your team leaders to use these to monitor how each employee performs. By breaking down your workforce, you’ll know who is doing what and, more importantly, who is overdoing it!

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4. Knowledge Sharing

You’ve chosen the tools and introduced the policies, now you need make sure everyone is working from the same information.

We think this is important, which is why we put so much effort into Twine’s knowledge library. This is a structured area within your intranet where you can keep company policies, documents and assets.

Twine brings content out of PDFs and Word documents and into HTML allowing team to search and rate your content. Articles can also be tagged mandatory reads, forcing your teams to read the latest documents and letting you know when they have.

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Here’s what to do next

You know what remote working is and what the common roadblocks are, now you need to get out there and plan your remote working policy.

Start small by allowing a handful of employees to work from home a few days a week. These initial adopters will quickly give you an idea what tools you need and the ones you don’t.

Give them a free trial of Twine and see what they can do.