If you’re a business owner or manager looking for a unique way to build your company culture, one of the best ways to do so is by developing a remote work program. Why start a remote work program? Because remote work has proven to provide ample benefits for businesses and their staff. One of the most important benefits was higher productivity. A State of Workplace Productivity Report found that 65% of full-time employees surveyed believed remote work would allow them to be more productive.
During another experiment, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom worked with the biggest travel agency in China, called Ctrip, to see what would happen if they allowed a sampling of their 16,000 employees to work from home. Over the course of two years, they analyzed the results between two groups; the control group worked from the office, while the other group worked remotely. They found the following:
“Turns out work-from-home employees work a true full-shift (or more) versus being late to the office or leaving early multiple times a week and found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home. Additionally (and incredibly), employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among the telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.”
Another major benefit of remote programs is that it can result in significant savings. IBM was able to save $100 million in just one year after they started their remote working program. With the right implementation, you can save a hearty percent of your spend and continue building out your brand. Here’s how you can start your program:
Train Staff on the Equipment
When your team members work from home, everyone needs to be on the same page with technology. Your IT team should educate everyone of safety and security protocols when accessing work on other networks–particularly open networks. You should also be sure that everyone understands how to use and communicate via project management software and video conferencing software.
Additionally, you should consider investing in company computers that your staff can take home; for example, you could get a great price on refurbished nSpire laptops, which prevent employees from using their work device as their personal device, and also saves you money on full-priced items.
Develop A System
There are many ways you can approach your remote program. For example, do you want your staff to choose what days each month they want to work from home, or will you have set dates where the entire office works from home? Take some time to think about the logistics for your business and work around it. Communicate with your staff to see what works best. The important thing here is consistency.
While there are ample benefits to remote programs, as previously mentioned, cost savings are particularly high for businesses who can save money on office space. If you already own or rent your space at a fixed price, you probably won’t see savings there. Think about what it costs for you to have your space, and how you can trim for those costs. Be open to renting out space that’s usage-based (like coworking spaces), which would allow you save more money.
In addition to having technology systems in place, you also want to set expectations. Each team member has a set of goals they should be striving towards, and assignments with deadlines. Without the right guidelines, managing a remote team can quickly become hectic. Some rules you might enforce for the program could be:
- Employees must be online at all times during working hours
- All meetings must be attended
- Progress should be tracked in the project management app
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call if something is confusing
- If rules aren’t followed, remote privileges may be revoked
Trial Your Remote Program
Before diving headfirst into a new system, it makes sense to test it. This is especially true if you plan to transition into remote work full time. Start small by trialing your remote system slowly, and learning more about any issues that arise.
Without micromanaging your staff, keep an eye on deliverables. Are they being completed at a reasonable time? And most importantly, you want to examine how your staff is communicating with one another during this time period. Are they taking too long to respond, or messaging you back just as quickly as they would in the office? These are all questions you’d be able to answer during a trial run of your remote program.
Highlight Remote Benefits
As you build out your program, create marketing materials to announce its launch. Doing so not only enables you to provide each of your staff members with official information about the program, but can also boost your SEO when you send out press releases. Highlight the benefits of remote work and explain your decisions. You’ll also want to mention these benefits in your job postings, as they can attract some great talent.