Remote work is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2022. "As employers require workers to return to offices, quits are ticking upwards. A major reason for quitting is to find a remote opportunity," wrote ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak on Twitter.
One of the biggest disconnects between employers and employees is around remote work. While employers seek to return to onsite work, a Willis Towers Watson's 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that 36% of employees prefer remote work. With a growing presence of remote companies -like Capita Works- many workers are looking for a new work model that brings the benefits remote work offers.
However, remote work can bring a host of challenges for both companies and their employees. There are logistical difficulties in setting up remote work (such as how people get their job done and stay connected) and challenges related to trust and building relationships across distances.
If you are thinking about implementing remote work, hiring virtual assistants, or already working remotely as an employee but want to reevaluate your setup, read on for some advice on setting employee expectations and creating a thriving remote work environment.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is vital for all aspects of remote work. The fact that you’re not in the same office, or even the same time zone, means that you can’t rely on the same communication tools you would use if you were working together in person. It’s essential to agree on a communication strategy as part of your remote work policy. As part of this strategy, some questions to ask include: - How often do you expect employees to check-in? - Which communication methods are best for different types of discussions? - What steps does the team follow to escalate communication issues?
Set boundaries for remote work
Part of the challenge of remote work is that there are no physical boundaries. Where does remote work start and end? How do you know when to go home for the day? How do you stay accountable for your time? Will work be based on a schedule or by task accomplishment? These questions should be explored and agreed on as part of your remote work policy. There’s also the question of office culture. What do you do with company holidays and celebrations? How do you make sure people are feeling connected and included? These questions and others can help you set some boundaries for your remote work environment.
Establish a culture of transparency
Remote work, by definition, is a relationship without a physical co-presence. This means that trust and transparency are crucial to any remotely-managed relationship. People want to know that they can trust their manager to use their discretion wisely and fairly. They want to know that they can ask for help without fear of being judged or punished for making mistakes. And they want to know that their manager will hold them accountable for their work and help them grow within the company. And when it comes to transparency, it’s important to remember that honesty goes beyond openness in information sharing. It’s also about transparency regarding feelings, emotions, and intent.
Identify ways to build relationships remotely
Building relationships is a crucial part of remote work. It’s essential to ensure that employees are getting the support they need to be successful and that managers have the tools they need to help them do that.
The good news is that there are many ways to do this. - Ensure that you’re using the proper communication channels for different types of discussions. For example, video calls are great for one-on-one meetings, while online collaboration tools are best for ongoing discussions. - Make it a priority to spend time getting to know your employees as individuals. This can include scheduled one-on-one meetings and impromptu check-ins when you’re online with an employee. - Build a culture of discovery. While it’s important to support your employees, it’s also crucial to create an environment where people can explore their passions, experiment with new ideas, and learn from their mistakes.
Because of the absence of a physical workplace, it’s vital to build a sense of community within the company, express company culture, and keep morale high. If you wish to know more about this particular topic, you can read our article on community building with remote coworkers here.
Create a physical workspace
Remote work often means that employees are working from home. While this can be an excellent setup for many people, it can also bring feelings of isolation. This is where having a physical workspace can help. The physical workspace can be a co-working space or a quiet space at home. It’s often helpful to create a dedicated physical space for collaboration with other remote workers.
The space can include whiteboards, noise-canceling headphones, and other tools for facilitating work remotely. You can also use the physical workspace to celebrate company holidays, hold team-building workshops, and host events. The physical workplace should feel like a home away from home. Ensure each employee has a space they love to be in and ensure that it’s stocked with the tools, technologies, and resources they need to do their best work.
Remote work is here to stay, and with it comes many challenges, not least of which is setting employee expectations. Keeping communication open, setting boundaries, and identifying ways to build relationships remotely will help you create a successful remote work environment where employees feel supported, included, and challenged to do their best work.
Nevertheless, don´t be intimidated by the challenges remote work can bring. A well-managed virtual workspace can get more benefits than hardships. At Capita Works, we are a fully remote company, and by implementing these strategies, we’ve been able to have continuous growth and success.
If you wish to start implementing remote work in your company or need help with its virtual operations, consider hiring one of our virtual assistants to be a part of your team. At Capita Works, we offer nearshore virtual assistants for a fraction of the cost you would get in the USA. To learn more about our service, you can read about it here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.