The general public was introduced to widespread work-from-home policies once the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. As we approach 2021, the pandemic is still ongoing, and remote work is in full swing. In fact, many experts are predicting that remote work is here to stay. Luckily, this arrangement has many benefits, such as increased productivity and lower costs for both employers and employees. However, certain steps need to be taken by both employees and employers to get the maximum benefit from this arrangement.
Communication is Critical
Everyone knows that communication has always been an important part of building a team. However, when there’s no in-person interaction going on, it means organizations must focus even more on communication between all employees. Managers and other company leadership should make sure to meet with their employees frequently, in both group and individual settings. This may be more difficult remotely, but many organizations are taking advantage of technology to make this possible. For example, services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow employees to communicate through video conferencing, in both individual and group settings.
For employees, it’s simply not enough to wait for management to contact you. If you’re having any problems, it’s important to reach out as soon as possible. It’s also critical to keep in communication with your co-workers, via participating in virtual meetings, work conversations and even outside (virtual) events.
Have a Proper Work Setup
It should be no surprise that where you work can affect how employees work. Having a set, distraction-free workspace is an important part of being a successful remote worker. Many now-remote workers are converting their spare bedrooms, basements, attics, and even garages into home offices. If this isn’t an option, employees can section off a part of their bedroom, kitchen or living room to dedicate to their work.
When putting together a home office, there are several factors to consider. As remote work becomes a long-term prospect, ergonomics is something that companies and employees both need to think about. Working from the couch, kitchen table or bed might be nice for a few days, but can lead to long-term physical issues. Other factors like proper lighting and desk height are also important considerations.
Of course, setting up a home office is not a cheap expenditure. Employers should consider giving employees a stipend to be used toward a home office. If the company is shutting down the physical office permanently, perhaps allow employees to take their desk and other office furniture home to reduce costs.
If this isn’t an option, there are other alternatives for employees and freelance workers. These people could consider tapping into their savings, refinancing their mortgage, setting up a GoFundMe, or reaching out to family and friends for help toward larger projects like home additions. For smaller expenses, consider applying for a reward-building credit card to finance a home office. It’s also important to remember that home offices do not need to be completed all at once, and can be built over time.
Protect the Data
Companies have been aware of the need to protect their data from cyberattacks for years. However, cybersecurity is even more important in the era of remote work.
Employers should set a rule stating that work should only be done on company-provided devices, then equip those devices with antivirus software. Providing all employees with training on cybersecurity best practices during orientation and intermittently is also a good idea to help protect sensitive company data.
Employees should be familiarizing themselves with their company’s cybersecurity policy, and make sure to follow it. It’s also important to be aware of the latest cyber-scams, and report them to your company’s IT department if a scam is encountered.
Lastly, all important data should be saved in another location, in case of a cyber-attack. This data can be stored physically in a secondary secure location, or in the Cloud. The main thing is that all company data is protected and accessible if a cyberattack were to happen.
The transition from office-based to remote work can be difficult, but for many companies, is ultimately worth it. Even for smaller companies, the benefits of no office space to keep up, the ability to hire employees worldwide and having more productive employees are worth any temporary struggle.