Remote working 101: why it’s so effective and what you need to do to create a successful remote working environment
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, remote working is gaining importance. Remote work had a major increase in popularity when COVID-19 compelled businesses all over the world to send their workers home to work virtually because of safety concerns.
Many businesses were caught off guard by the rush to provide staff with all of the equipment they needed to work from home. However, after everyone had settled in, it became clear to many office-based teams that workers could be just as efficient and concentrated while they were not in the office, and in many ways, even more so. Employers all over the world started to realise that remote work is a viable option.
More than three-quarters of EU workers say they would continue to operate from home at least regularly, even when COVID-19 limitations are lifted. Most EU employees have had a good experience with remote working during the pandemic, but very few will choose to work remotely all the time, with a combination of working from home and going into the office becoming the favoured choice.
In London, one of the world’s tech hubs, more than half of workers worked from home in April 2020 shortly after the pandemic struck.
And in terms of productivity, a recent study at Stanford University indicated that working from home leads to a 13% productivity increase.
What happened to remote work in 2020?
Before the lockdown it’s estimated that only 15% of companies in Europe had remote working arrangements available for their employees.
In the past, remote work had much more of an association with small IT companies that had a limited budget for office rent. It is now clear that many more major players in the digital industry have recognized the benefits of working remotely and are making the positive moves to set up employees to work from home.
As a result of the lockdown imposed in nearly every country around the world, many tech industry giants have changed their approach to remote working.
Google had previously invested millions in office infrastructure, but the company has now created a much greater ‘home office’ focus. It is reported that until the summer of 2021, Google does not plan to return employees from remote working back to an office-based environment.
A similar situation is evident at Facebook. In March 2021, the company re-opened offices, but only for voluntary visits. Furthermore, Amazon, Microsoft, and Cisco have decided to introduce a hybrid work model. Employees have the right to continue to work remotely if they want to, as long as their performance of official duties is possible outside of the office.
Twitter, Dropbox and Square, meanwhile, have all approved a remote policy that allows employees to always work from home.
Over the past year, shareholders have seen that the remote work format not only results in more productive work for employees (for example, according to a Dropbox survey, 90% of employees work more efficiently at home), but also allows them to expand the company’s talent pool to more geographies.
3 major challenges were faced by tech businesses taking up remote working during the lockdown:
Managing the work a structured way
Quick and simple methods of management needed to be implemented, but not at the cost of employee and customer dissatisfaction. Leadership, specific guidance, and coordinated efforts were crucial to a seamless migration.
Installing the right tech infrastructure in homes
All workers need to have the right hardware and software to set up in their own homes, and make sure that there are no obstacles to their success in terms of equipment. This may come at a cost to companies, but the benefits can be long-lasting.
Maintaining the right work/life balance
By making working from home obligatory, the distinction between an employee’s work and their private life disappears. Early adopters have shown that this is a danger to mental health if left unchecked, so companies need to actively engage in their workers’ well-being.
How effective is remote work?
Previously, it was assumed that remote workers were less efficient than people who put in the hours at an office. This stereotypical viewpoint was often used as a powerful justification against remote working. However, the pandemic’s history has demonstrated that certain workers’ morale remains the same or even increases.
This is supported by research:
According to the International Workplace Group, 85% of business owners found that the efficiency of their operations increased due to increased flexibility, and an experiment conducted by Stanford University showed some equally interesting figures: remote work led to an increase in productivity by 13%.
According to data from Indeed.com, 75% of remote employees believe that working from home has helped them to create a positive balance between their work and personal time. The study also shows that remote employment reduces stress, supports morale and reduces the number of sick days. A similar trend has been confirmed by an OWL Labs study, which compared the job satisfaction of remote workers and office workers. It turned out that 71% of remote employees are satisfied with their current place of work, while only 55% of office colleagues could say the same.
Despite popular (and now out-dated) beliefs, it is clear and obvious that many employees are able to work outside the office efficiently and enjoy themselves a lot while doing so! The newly-invigorated remote working situation has had an extremely positive impact not only on the state of the workflow and the results of a company, but also on the profitability of organizations.
So why wouldn’t every company go fully remote? There are a few different reasons: the lack of services designed for remote work and unorganized activities across departments are significant factors. But perhaps the most important factor is management’s fear of losing control over the process and employees.
Luckily, though, these difficulties can be easily solved by simply following the basic principles of building a successful remote working environment:
Five basics of convenient and effective remote work
Of course, the best way to understand and see the benefits of a remote working environment is seeing the results of one in practice.
Our team of technical experts at Omegalab has been operating remotely for 15 years, so we know a great deal about setting up a productive remote working environment.
Over that time, we’ve developed a host of tried-and-true methodologies for making remote work profitable and enjoyable. Our workers seamlessly work in 11 foreign countries every single day, effectively executing essential software tasks for large organisations.
To build an effective team framework, we use five basic principles:
Since people are at the core of our company, we take great care in hiring. When it comes to recruiting and building a remote team, evaluating personal attributes (soft skills) takes on a new significance and aligns with technical competencies (hard skills).
The most important virtues in the field of remote work are flexibility, initiative, and the capacity to self-organize, but this is just the bare minimum: as the organisation grew, we discovered that a good mindset and the ability to compensate for the loss of live contact are equally important in a safe and productive remote work environment.
2. Interaction tools
An important point to be taken from any inquiry into remote working is that your people must be able to interact and work together to succeed. The benefits of using automation in the office or home environment can not be overstated: if this applies to remote work or direct staff, ensure that you do utilise robust tools and collaboration strategies.
At Omegalab, Asana is a task management tool that we use to manage tasks. Our calls with the stakeholders are kept in a Slack feed dedicated to the project, and we also make use of YouTrack as well.
We also have regular practises and monthly briefings that keep us all singing from the same hymn sheet. These might be on the subject of things like setting the tempo of the job, getting everyone on the same page, ensuring all tasks are in line, and telling everyone what their next goals and key objectives are.
3. Assigning tasks correctly
Managers are successful by creating relationships with remote teams when distributing assignments, and such teams depend for the most part on being able to interact. For this reason, supervisors know precisely and in depth what is required of technicians, making sure they communicate each step in the technological process in a coherent way.
This job is passed to the employees, and supervisors are then allowed to monitor and control the project, but they remain within the process until it is completed. The workers are never left alone to carry out the work and they’re kept advised of the progress at all times by their superiors.
4. Creating the right atmosphere
The most important thing in the OmegaLab team philosophy is to preserve a relaxed, stress-free environment when carrying out complex tasks that call for patience. We support an atmosphere that makes for casual yet productive contact in our group chats, and we gladly tolerate emojis in our work.
And of course, OmegaLab team members occasionally come together from all around the world to meet up in-person to help to develop a true friendship and human connection with each other.
5. Results are more important than the process
Since we deal with conscientious and organised individuals who take care of their workload, we do not use time trackers or other monitoring methods to closely observe our staff. Employees at OmegaLab understand that the job must be done within the agreed-upon time span and that they are responsible for the outcome, so there is no need to constantly track the workflow. At OmegaLab we have spent a lot of time studying how to pick proactive workers and create team coordination in such a way that remote processes operate like clockwork.
We deliberately wanted to create a team with a global perspective that was not anchored to one place. As a consequence, the organization now has a broader selection of experts to draw from, collaborates with specialists from all around the globe, and reacts rapidly to developments, whether it’s a new crisis or a pandemic. As a result, we can categorically assert that successful remote work is possible; the key is proper organization.