The sudden transition from working in the office to working from home can be nothing less than daunting, especially if remote teams have had no time to prepare themselves. Although it is preferable to establish clear remote work strategies and policies in advance, in terms of crisis, like a global pandemic, this level of preparation has not been possible for most businesses.
But just because your organization had to suddenly go remote with little to no planning doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your remote work strategy to improve work efficiency. By understanding the main remote working challenges for your employees, digitizing internal processes, leveraging the right technology, and focusing on employee engagement, you can effectively optimize remote work strategy for your business.
What is a remote work strategy?
A remote work strategy is a long term plan created by an organization to ensure continued productivity, efficiency and ideal employee experience when faced with fully remote or hybrid forms of work. Core to an ideal remote work strategy is a digital workplace platform that can enable organizations to harness the productivity of their workforces by providing an environment conducive to remote work.
5 Remote work strategies to support long-term remote work
1. Migrate essential business processes to the cloud
The first thing that businesses should do to optimize their remote work strategy is to digitize and convert their internal business processes into streamlined workflows, and move them to the cloud.
Digitizing, streamlining, and structuring business processes helps improve overall efficiency and transparency within the organization. It also ensures that teams can easily track processes and get updates in real-time.
Moving process management to the cloud allows remote employees to check assigned processes and review any changes made in real-time which can directly improve collaboration.
Moreover, by digitizing processes, you can also automate repetitive parts of the processes which can save time and allow employees to focus on the more important and complex parts of their job.
2. The right remote work tools can make all the difference
Remote teams need access to robust remote tools to facilitate communication and collaboration across different time zones, improve efficiency, and manage complex processes. But just implementing the latest technologies and tools and expecting them to improve and optimize your remote work strategy will not work.
You need tools that can align with your organizational goals, company culture, and employee needs. If the remote work tools are too complicated or just not a good fit for your business, they will only end up making things more difficult for your employees and create more problems.
While introducing new tools to your already growing suite of digital infrastructure may seem like a quick solution, they can increase business costs, scatter data and conversations, and make it difficult for your employees to manage everything.
Instead, embrace software minimalism and use as few tools as you can in order to improve employee efficiency, save costs, and streamline remote work collaboration.
3. Set up all the components of remote work
For businesses to reap the benefits of working remotely, they need to set up and establish all the different components of remote work so that employees can work seamlessly even without face to face interactions.
Here are the top components that your remote work strategy should include:
- Asynchronous communication channels where teams can have detailed, ad-hoc, and long-drawn discussions about things that don’t require urgent or real-time response.
- Synchronous communication mainly includes video calls, audio calls, and instant messages that require real-time response. This is mainly reserved for urgent discussions, virtual team meetings, and one on one conversations
- Project management to track, manage and assign all the projects and tasks
- Process management to digitize and streamline business processes and transform them into structured workflows
- Dedicated cloud storage to store all the business data and documents in one central repository
While you can use separate tools and software for all the different components of remote work, it will not only cost money to buy separate subscriptions for all the tools but you will also have to spend a lot of time walking employees through every tool. Instead, you can take the contextual collaboration approach and use a unified tool like a digital workplace to access all of these different components through one single dashboard.
4. Incorporate contextual collaboration
With contextual collaboration, you can incorporate all the different online collaboration tools together and access them through one single interface to make it easier for remote employees to collaborate digitally. The goal of contextual collaboration platforms like digital workplaces is to make online collaboration just as intuitive and simple as it is to work with colleagues present in the same room.
Here’s an example of contextual collaboration: While reading a project document, you may have questions for the people involved. Instead of using a separate tool to communicate with your coworkers, share the document for context and ask your queries, you can directly ask your colleagues from within the contextual collaboration tool by just clicking on their names. Using a single tool means your conversations aren’t scattered and your colleagues always have a clear context for your messages.
5. Increased focus on employee engagement
You can have the best remote work strategies and the most advanced tools to back them up, but if your employees aren’t happy and engaged, you will end up seeing no results from them, at all.
Companies are defined by the work culture that they create and when remote employees feel disconnected from that very culture, it can take a big hit on employee productivity and engagement.
Instead of just implementing strategies that you find helpful, take a bottom-up approach to remote work. Start by asking your employees about their idea of working from home
- What are the main challenges they face while working remotely?
- What are the processes that could be improved to help them work more efficiently?
- Do they often feel disconnected from the team?
- Could they be more productive if they used different tools or had a more flexible schedule?
- Are there any communication issues within their team?
Managers can set up periodic one on one meetings with their team members to get a better understanding of what everyone is up to. This is especially important for remote employees who do not have the opportunity to communicate directly with their colleges on a daily basis or don’t feel comfortable enough to raise issues during regular team meetings.
Get comfortable with remote work
Even if you find it difficult to manage remote teams initially, that fact is, the world is going to be working remotely for a long time now, even after we get past the pandemic. As a result, organizations need to stop taking things one day at a time and instead create and optimize the remote work strategy that can give them visible results in the long term.