The 6-step process to better remote work culture

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Remote work has suddenly become the new norm for businesses globally. While there had been a 159% increase in remote work from 2005 to 2017, the recent coronavirus pandemic outbreak caused a colossal shift to home-working life. 

For many, this shift to working from home initially seemed like quite a luxury. Commuting from your bedroom to the sofa, your workwear being pyjamas. However, as time goes on, this honeymoon phase begins to fade, and for many, some of the realities of remote working were far from positive. Remote work leaves many employees feeling isolated from their company, and often causes a reduction in motivation. 

There are many steps that employees themselves can do to optimise their remote work experience, such as establishing a solid routine, and eliminating distractions when possible. However, it is also the responsibility of businesses to create a positive and supportive remote working environment. 

Orbital explores some of the best ways to create a healthy and well-connected remote working environment.

Build Trust Among Team Members

Having a strong community in the workplace undoubtedly increases wellbeing and productivity. Ensure you give space for team members to bond on a human level. In addition, create clear lines of responsibility through task allocation, and allow people to present their work to the team. This ensures your team all have confidence in themselves and those around them in completing tasks.

Create Relationships One-on-One

Isolation and lack of support are central issues in remote working. Without direct positive reinforcement, many employees can feel somewhat undervalued. A way to combat this issue is to create strong one-on-one relationships with your staff. Speak to them all directly and separately. Check on their workload, how they’re doing, both work related and not. This creates a bond between you and your staff members, and makes them feel supported and valid.

Be Aware of Individual Differences in Circumstance

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, shifts to remote work often saw employers assessing home set ups, childcare provisions, separate work-spaces, and non-work timetables before agreeing to home working. This ensured that remote workers had an optimal working environment away from the office. 

However, COVID-19 has pushed employees into remote work settings that are undoubtedly sub-optimal, with constant parenting responsibilities, cramped home conditions, and innumerable distractions.

As an employer, your responsibility is to understand and take into account these distractions and limitations. Putting heavy workloads or strict deadlines on employees with sub-optimal working conditions and high levels of distraction is counter-productive. Have conversations with employees about their circumstances. It will allow for much more productive and high quality work if you consider their situation and create a work schedule that fits with it.  

Foster an Environment of Continuous Feedback

Without the usual quick back and forths that go on in the physical workplace, it is easy for employees’ hard work to go unnoticed in the remote environment. A quick feedback session is much rarer with remote workers than it is when you’re 6 metres away in the office. Take the time to provide your staff with feedback during remote working. It allows for them to continue to improve, and opens up space to ask questions.

Communicate Early, Often, and Informally

This step has already somewhat been covered, but it needs to be emphasised. Your method of communication is crucial for creating a high functioning, positive remote work environment. Try to be the first online, and ensure that all your staff know what they need to do at the start of the day, giving them space to ask questions. 

Be available and online as much as possible for contact (within reason), and be transparent and open when you won’t be online, as to leave your employees with time to communicate any issues to you. 

In addition, be real. Try to be somewhat informal, which allows for staff to feel comfortable in discussing any issues with work or their work setting.

Provide the Best Collaboration Tools

Particularly since coronavirus forced employees to work from home, there has been a rise in high quality online collaboration tools, to replace real-life collaboration methods. Utilising these will help your team keep up-to-date with each other on projects, share ideas, and allocate tasks. 

Trello’s task tracking platform helps team projects run efficiently and more collaboratively. With its Boards system, you can create to-do lists for team members, helping to organise and prioritise projects in a visual and engaging way.  

Linear is a task tracking system for software developers. It helps you track and organise projects, development tasks, bugs, and view productivity statistics. 

Miro replicates a whiteboard. It is a visual collaboration platform which allows teams to brainstorm ideas, map strategies, allocate tasks, and more. It has a number of appealing features such as digital post-it notes and a clear, bright colour coding system. 

Orbital’s open-channel, audio-first communication tool is a perfect way to bring the natural office atmosphere into remote working. Get the feeling of being in the same room with this audio-only platform. Orbital removes the formalities of face-to-face video meetings. 

Employees can move their personal dots around the Orbital Galaxy, so they can be close or far away from the office chatter. You can also create unlimited breakaway chats to have one-on-one or small group discussions.

online as much as possible for contact (within reason), and be transparent and open when you won’t be online, as to leave your employees with time to communicate any issues to you. 

In addition, be real. Try to be somewhat informal, which allows for staff to feel comfortable in discussing any issues with work or their work setting.

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