Remote working arrangement seems nicely packaged and cute at the beginning (for both employee and employer), but as soon as you start the unwrapping, you keep saying an increasing number of “shit!” in between strings of “yes!”es.
Yes, there will always be pros and cons of all things but in this case, there are times that it seems as if the cons have punched the pros to the ground. Currently in the digital media and communication industry (and other majorly net dependent businesses), remote working is increasingly on the rise. But there are more than small number of companies having issues with it, talking about how there is not as much productivity as expected.Tech point did an insightful study into this. But hey, this doesn’t mean you should throw it all out the window. Those assumptions and prejudices you have about it? Those are what belong to the trash.
Now let’s get to those strategies you can use for maximizing the productivity and effectiveness of your remote working arrangement. For the purpose of brevity I have summarized them under two headings:
Culture break down
Internalizing company culture is not a day thing and it’s definitely harder when it has to happen from through the net. Constant touch ups of what the company is about, the shit it doesn’t take, the attitude it demands, where it is going, how it is moving on the path towards that, when it speaks and when it doesn’t, everything should be clear to the employee in such a way that they become easy to adapt to. This is not just about deliverables. It goes deeper. When a remote employee is well immersed in the company culture, it serves to kick off smaller but deadly cons on the side. Like the feeling of being left out of the loop.
An advantage of this is that your employee will be able to take more initiatives without having a headache of “will this be in line with the company?” and other thumb twiddling questions. And when this happens, you get more innovative ideas, more productivity, new perspectives. Take for instance you live with a diabetic grandma who has a very selective diet. By the time you live with her for few months, you know her routine. You know what is good for her her and what isn’t. Same thing here. Let every employee know everything if possible about your company culture and values.
Prioritize Communication in all Forms
You know how it is in an office environment, how Susan will peep into John’s cubicle just to ‘holla’. How you share a couple of clinks when a deadline is met. Easy flow of communication and camaraderie yes? You should have that flow with your remote employees too. A “hey, so what is going on with you?” during lunch hour serves to prod your employees to get more involved and ready to bust ass.
Not every time official mails, creating a friendly atmosphere or relations doesn’t end in the office. Encourage a constant flow of communication among your employees in such a way that no one is left feeling as if the bus has left leaving him/her in the rain.
Miscommunication is also one thing you definitely want to avoid. State in clear terms what you want done, how you want it and when you want it. Any change occurs, make sure you communicate. This is one of the major problems of remote working arrangements. You say “b” and your employee hears “a”. Sometimes, a slight change in trickling down of instructions passed from heads to the workers causes this. For example you tell a team head to “build a box”. Team head passes the instruction down to sub-team heads in the office as “build a box”. Eventually, the remote worker gets the instruction as “build boxes” or “design boxes”. We all know in design agencies, little changes in vocabularies can end up affecting a lot. Therefore, keep your brief instructions simple and clear and always request for feedback. Always.
When it comes to problems, there is always a root cause. In the case of remote working arrangements, that cause is communication really. Here’s a challenge; create an effective and efficient communication structure for all your remote working arrangements. Test-run it and let’s see if it works or not.
Point to note: make sure you take the nature of the job’s requirements into consideration before adopting a remote working arrangement. There have been a lot of arguments on remote working, like this one here, but really it majorly depends on the job responsibilities and requirements and how adaptable they are.
Have you been involved in a remote working arrangement (either as an employer or employee) before? What do you have to say about it? Share your thoughts in the comments box.