A while back we posted an article about how working remotely works for our team and it was one of our most popular pieces. This was pre-Covid 19 and pre-restrictions, when working from home was for convenience and lifestyle rather than a necessary health measure. The article struck a chord because the wellbeing of employees is paramount to any business; they are its human capital and need to feel cared for and appreciated. The current way of the world has only made the need to look after each other more pronounced.
At Above Benchmark, we were early adopters of telecommuting. We realised the need to broaden our office dynamic to reflect the changing lives of our team. Our CEO, Jen Wells, innovated an office “hub”. The hub was where we would gather regularly to have meetings, discuss projects, and fine-tune things. However, more often than not, the team worked from their home offices.
Here’s why it has worked:
Greater Productivity –
We don’t spend an hour in traffic or take five toilet breaks an hour just to have a chat and catch up on the office gossip. When our team finishes getting ready for the morning, they start work. This makes us crazy efficient, so we finish tasks in half the time it would take someone in a “normal” office.
The team have become amazing communicators with each other. Because it’s vital that we all understand what is happening during each cycle of mystery shopping, we send a lot of emails, messages, and share documents. Our customer satisfaction team liaises with our mystery shopping team, and so on.
If we have a personal appointment or some other pressing task, we don’t have to take a ‘sickie’, we have the option to work around it. That way, we take our sick leave when we are actually sick. You shouldn’t have to miss your child’s important school events. Work and life should balance, not compete.
If you respect and appreciate your employees, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. It’s a spin on an oft-used proverb, but it is true of a working relationship too. Employees recognise the trust and faith you extend to them and that fosters fierce loyalty.
Now that restrictions are easing, more and more businesses, who turned to working remotely, are finding themselves bringing their staff back into the office to reinforce employee engagement. While that’s great for the ones who want to do that, it doesn’t have to be like flicking a switch. There’s no reason more flexible arrangements can’t continue.
Here are a few tips to help:
Make Tech Work for You –
Telecommuting is reliant on technology. You need a good messaging system, like Google’s Hangouts and Zoom for video meetings. Google Drive is also a wonderful resource that can make you feel connected to everyone on your team. Remote screen-sharing is also invaluable. You do need to keep updating your systems to ensure you are adapting and utilising the best available programs.
Dress the Part –
The image “working from home” evokes is someone at their computer in their pyjamas and we’ve all seen the memes of inappropriate workwear during Zoom meetings. Forget that! We dress for work because it’s difficult to take yourself seriously in flannel, let alone clients and mystery shoppers. Dressing for work enables us to take video calls from clients all over the country, at a moment’s notice.
Trust Your Employees –
You need to be able to trust your staff to do the work they are assigned and to proactively move from task to task, without having to micromanage. Trust that they will appreciate the responsibility and put in 100% because of increased feelings of wellbeing.
Turn Off –
Have set working hours so your employees can feel they can “turn off”. It’s easy to leave work behind as the office door closes, but not as easy when your home is your office. Don’t take advantage of your employee’s availability.
Restrictions permitting, bring the team together regularly, especially to celebrate milestones and achievements. The emotional and psychological support you get from being able to talk to colleagues about your life is important. Working from home can be isolating, so check in regularly with your employees and make the time to get together in person.
Trial It –
We do acknowledge that working from home is not for everyone; some people need the structure and authority that comes with an external office. However, you need to trial it properly, not when the employees are also home schooling their kids. It’s amazing how much work you get done when you aren’t constantly being asked for snacks or explaining what a noun is.
We know the small amount of effort involved in facilitating remote working is made worth it by the rewards the employees and the company will reap. Away from the confines of a typical office, employees feel empowered and appreciated, which fosters greater brand engagement.