Many employers had to quickly introduce remote working arrangements over the last six months in order to maintain business continuity, avoid any negative impacts on their bottom line and protect the health and safety of their employees.
With remote working set to become an increasingly popular solution, home working processes and systems must be designed for the long-haul. So, what should businesses be doing to ensure long-term success?
Prioritise employee wellbeing
While countless businesses are likely to have implemented flexible working arrangements in recent years, many of these processes will not have been designed to cope with the scale of disruption caused by COVID-19. To ensure that home working arrangements are fit to last, employees must be mentally prepared for life away from the office. Working from home can be difficult, for example some employees may be juggling work around childcare commitments or caring for other family members, as such it is important to provide flexibility and check in with individuals regularly to offer support.
Establish a Workplace
Another vital action is to check that employees have access to a suitable home working environment, containing the right tools and technologies to do their job. While investing in hardware such as laptops and cloud-based software may require some initial expenditure, it is worth weighing this up against the potential cost to the business if people are unable to achieve their objectives.
It would also be incorrect to assume that everyone switching to home working will be able to use the range of online tools required to do their job. Tools used to aid collaboration can be multifunctional and much more than just video conferencing on demand, however, they do often require some initial time investment and, if not addressed, can impact employee performance.
Maintaining a strong company culture
One of the key challenges when remote working is maintaining a strong company culture. This is a great opportunity to find creative ways to keep employees connected and bring a human element to the processes. This might be a morning actions meeting through video conferencing, a daily coffee and chat catch up or even a weekly employee quiz.
With modern technology, companies have many tools at their disposal to aid this. Having a comprehensive communications approach ensures people won’t burn out or become disengaged.
In these unprecedented times, companies are facing a new test to their resilience. However, by preparing the workforce, having a clear line of communication and an adaptable approach, businesses can introduce changes that support both wellbeing and commercial performance.
Anna Lane is a senior business consultant at business change consultancy Entec Si