How the post-pandemic in-person vs. remote work situation is evolving largely depends on the nature of the business. There’s evidence of organizations that might not have been open to the idea of remote work adopting policy changes post-pandemic. And quite a few companies continue to have scheduled work from home days each week, have hybrid options, or have chosen to remain fully remote.
Something companies that have a remote option need to consider is how they’ll support their remote workers, especially new hires, to ensure they have all the necessary resources, as well as ways to connect with their coworkers.
Smart Business spoke with Aubrey Chua, senior auditor at Clark Schaefer Hackett, about the evolving remote work situation and how companies can set up remote workers for success.
What are some of the benefits of remote work?
The most attractive benefits of implementing remote work for employers are having a larger pool from which to draw talent as well as opportunities to reduce costs and overhead, for example by cutting back on travel. To the former, working from home can expand the geographical footprint beyond what they would typically look within for employees, or in some cases even search for new clients or customers. It’s also led some companies to downsize their building space and save money on their rent, utilities and other office costs.
A remote work option has also helped employers with retention as employees are realizing a better work-life balance, even if that’s just by eliminating what can often be an hours-long commute. It seems that employees that have remote options are happier, which results in less turnover.
What obstacles have made that situation a challenge?
Companies that are accustomed to having employees working from a central office have internal controls and processes associated with typical workflows. When everyone is disconnected and working from various locations, replicating those controls can be a challenge. There are technologies that facilitate electronic approval processes, which can fill that gap, but only if a company is willing to implement them.
It’s also been tricky for some to move from in-person meetings and desktop computers to get equipped for a fully remote workforce. Basic steps such as buying laptops for their employees or implementing communication processes that take the place of those in-person meetings might not be as simple for some companies as it has been for others.
What effect has remote work had on culture?
When it comes to culture in a remote environment, communication is key. Companies should consider hosting regular video conferences, whether more formal, such as check-in meetings, to more informal, such as coffee chats. In a remote environment, management might need to be more intentional when it comes to building connections among employees, using different communication channels and types to build up the culture and pass along company values to new hires.
Additionally, when hiring someone for a fully remote work situation, it’s important to adjust the trainings that address that circumstance. Some companies have not updated their policies and procedures to provide information that addresses those who only work remotely, and that can affect whether or not these new hires feel like they’re being welcomed into the company.
Consider also connecting new remote hires with a mentor or coach. They can reach out electronically to new hires through weekly meetings or check-ins to ensure they’re on track with their work, answer any questions they might have, and generally offer a point of contact to help guide them through the company’s processes and procedures.
Devising strategies to maintain cohesion is important as remote work becomes a more established option in the market. It’s not going away, so in order to remain competitive, companies need to update their approach to their talent search, and the client customer search. Whether they’re a large or small company, and regardless of the market headquarters or markets served, remote work can be attainable as long as obstacles to success are identified and plans are created to overcome them.