There’s no doubt about it: remote work is fast becoming the new normal. Contrary to predictions that workers would be enthusiastically flocking back to their city centre offices in the aftermath of the pandemic, the appetite for wholly or partially remote jobs remains high.
According to recent research:
64% of recruiters say that being able to pitch a work-from-home policy helps them find high-quality talent.
74% of workers say that having a remote work opportunity would make them less likely to leave a company.
85% of managers believe that having remote workers will become the new normal for many teams.
And almost 40% of US employees are now willing to quit if remote working is not offered by an employer.
Clearly, companies looking to recruit and retain top talent whilst maximising employee wellbeing and satisfaction must now offer remote working opportunities. And in order to make remote work a success for your people and for the company, it’s crucial to prepare for the most common challenges and obstacles.
As an employer, you are ultimately responsible for supporting your remote workforce to perform to the best of their ability, and for building a sustainable and successful remote work model. Here, we take a look at the simple, practical steps you can take to ensure that remote working really works for your team.
How to confidently make a smooth transition to remote working
Whereas many of your team members will quickly embrace remote working, some are likely to struggle with elements of the transition. To mitigate any stress or unhappiness this might cause, employers ought to:
- Offer an immersive training and/or onboarding programme specifically for remote working, covering essential topics like how to communicate with colleagues, how to use collaborative working technologies and how to stay safe and healthy in a home-office environment.
- Make sure that your team has the necessary equipment to perform at 100% (this includes hardware like second screens and office chairs as well as essential software).
- Schedule regular check-ins and mentoring sessions with members of your team, so they can share any concerns and you can address any emerging problems.
- Provide opportunities for informal team socialising to build company cohesion and morale.
Prioritise communication at all levels
It’s a common misconception that remote working must come at the expense of productive collaboration, communication and colleague relationship-building. With the right digital infrastructure in place (from Slack and Asana to Zoom and Miro), you can surpass the hurdles that physical separation poses to successful teamwork.
Don’t expect your internal communication to be flawless right from Day 1; it’s likely that you’ll have to ‘trial and test’ a number of different platforms and softwares until your team settles on the perfect formula for efficiency and user-friendly collaboration.
Keep your team aligned and motivated to achieve company success
An oft-cited concern about remote working is that alignment, and subsequently motivation, will suffer from the geographical separation and computer-mediated interaction.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Team alignment comes when everyone is working towards the same goals and the same vision. To achieve this, make sure that your remote onboarding programme clearly communicates company values to new starters. Every member of staff should understand the role they have to play in driving the company mission forwards, as this will enable them to derive a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction from their daily tasks.
At Virti, we use our own VOS² alignment system to make sure that every team member feels empowered to solve problems and make decisions guided by company culture. We’ve also found that celebrating the successes and wins of individual employees, and the team as a whole, is a great way to raise morale and motivation. It’s important to make time in your weekly schedule to reflect on big and small victories, as well as to share in praise and rewards.
How to transition to remote skills training to empower your employees
Just like any other employees, your remote team members want to learn new skills, improve their performance and get better at doing their jobs. Investing in their upskilling is a sure-fire way to demonstrate that they are valued and to retain them in the long-run.
The good news is that remote training has now emerged as one of the most cost effective, impactful and scalable options on the table. Giving employees access to a 360° immersive training platform like Virti means giving them on-demand access to repeatable, realistic training scenarios in which to practice complex technical procedures or to refine their soft skills. And, just like in elite sport training, the best XR platforms offer subjective feedback to learners after automatically gathering, analysing and tracking a vast array of data from every single training session.
Research also shows that XR training programmes result in longer knowledge retention; individuals who trained using the Virti platform experienced 52% less skill fade than their peers who used traditional training methods.
Make feedback a key pillar of company success
One of your greatest resources when it comes to refining your remote working model is the voice of your own workforce. It’s important to not only hear what your employees have to say, but to look for trends, track responses and ultimately turn that feedback into action.
The best way to do this is to implement a centralised, integrated digital feedback system that employees can easily use to share their thoughts and opinions. Interactive surveys, like those which can be created through Virti’s new Feedback suite, provide a perfect framework within which employees can make their voices heard.
Remember, the best feedback platforms use sentiment analysis to collect and convert qualitative response data into quantitative data. This data, displayed on clear graphs and charts, will deliver clear and actionable insights that can be used to drive tangible improvements.
In summary, the sky's the limit when it comes to the success of your company’s remote working initiatives. But this success is entirely contingent on how effectively you manage and train your remote team. To achieve best outcomes, focus on nailing internal communication and alignment whilst rolling out data-driven feedback and training platforms. Investment here will pay dividends, in the form of a happier, more cohesive and ultimately more productive remote workforce.