Since 2020 with the global pandemic forcing us to stay home, many office jobs turned remote. Fast forward to today when many of us are trying to predict the future of work. Will work-from-home (WFH) become the new permanent norm or will the push to return to the workplace prevail?
How should small businesses approach remote work in 2024?
The answer isn’t as straightforward as we may hope not only is each small business unique but because every employee is different as well. While a one-size approach does not fit all, three areas of focus will be the key to successful remote work for your organization:
We’ve put together tips for each one, along with other important considerations so you can successfully lean into the world of remote work.
Remote work is not a uniform concept that applies universally. It can vary across industries, job roles, and individual preferences. So, what does that mean for your small business? Think about the unique needs of your team members and create an inclusive, supportive work environment. What works for your team may not work for another organization, and acknowledging this helps you avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. Tailor your remote work policies to your company’s specific needs to help foster both job satisfaction and productivity.
Remote work thrives on trust. Treat your employees as responsible adults who can manage their time and deliver results. Empower them with the autonomy to structure their workday in a way that suits their lifestyle without impacting productivity. In return, you’ll likely see not only a boost in productivity but also in morale, retention, and commitment to the company.
Fostering Effective Communication
Clear communication is the backbone of successful remote work. Leverage various communication tools to keep your team connected, whether through video calls, messaging platforms, or regular check-ins. This helps prevent confusion about what’s allowed and what’s expected. Remember that effective communication is kind, clear, and consistent. Regular communication with your team will help foster a sense of belonging and bridge the virtual gap.
While the three areas above are certainly the key to a successful remote work policy, there are other factors to consider. Follow these
Best HR Practices for WFH Policies and Procedures
Talk to a Subject Matter Expert: Some companies (like us!) have always been 100% remote and know a thing or two about how remote work can be scaled, sustained, and profitable. Talking to consultants with experience can help you avoid common mistakes and be successful with a remote work model.
Enhancing Cybersecurity Measures: As the remote workforce becomes increasingly prevalent, cybersecurity has never been more important. Including cybersecurity addendums in your company handbook and implementing cybersecurity training ensures that employees are aware of the necessary precautions to protect sensitive information.
Hiring the Right People: During the hiring process, look for candidates with self-discipline, autonomy, and effective communication skills. These qualities are crucial for thriving in a remote work setting. Tailor your recruiting and interview processes to assess potential hires for these traits. Try these proven HR strategies to recruit and hire the right people in the right roles.
Remember, not everyone is suited to working remotely. While one candidate may seek a WFH job to balance certain aspects of life, another may thrive in a hybrid set-up or prefer interpersonal opportunities that come from being in the office full-time. Make sure to communicate the qualities you need from your new hire and ask what they need from their new role.
Incorporating In-Person Factors: While remote work offers flexibility, in-person interactions remain invaluable. Periodic team-building events, workshops, or retreats can strengthen working relationships and create a sense of camaraderie. A balance between remote and in-person helps contribute to a well-rounded work experience.
Leveraging Resources: Make the most of available resources to support your remote workforce. From virtual collaboration tools to online training programs, invest in technologies and products that make remote work seamless. The right resources can enhance productivity and ensure your team has the tools needed to excel.
Rethinking the 40-Hour Workweek: The traditional 40-hour workweek may not be the most effective model in our increasingly remote world. A results-oriented approach that focuses on productivity rather than hours worked helps promote a healthy work-life balance. Empower your team to work smarter, not longer.
In a world shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become more than a trend; it’s a fundamental shift in how we work. Research shows that remote work statistics before and after COVID highlight its significant impact on work environments globally. As we navigate the future, staying informed about remote work trends and statistics is essential.
In our experience with small businesses, these are the more common questions we continue to get about remote work:
- Is remote work dropping? Remote work is here to stay, but it continues to evolve. The future may involve hybrid models that blend remote and in-person elements. As the landscape continually changes, small businesses must adapt to attract and retain strong talent.
- How has the shift to remote work impacted work-life balance? Many report improved work-life balance, with the flexibility to manage personal and professional commitments. Many job seekers consider remote options to be a priority when searching for a new role.
- Does working from home/remotely save companies money? Remote work can lead to cost savings in office space, utilities, and other overhead expenses. According to some research, there is a savings of up to $11,000 per employee for small businesses that switch to working remotely.
- What are the advantages of employing remote workers? Benefits include access to a broader talent pool, increased job satisfaction, and enhanced productivity.
- How do I get my employees to not goof off during the workday? Hiring the right people is your first step. Set your expectations of communication and accountability up-front, and stick to it. This will also require that your management and communication style be adapted to leading remote workers. Some helpful ways to make sure remote work works for your team:
- Consistent and organized one-on-ones or check-ins
- Organizing how the company tracks work and where it is stored
- Clear processes and procedures in place
- A culture where employees feel free to collaborate and support each other
- What if someone does not seem suited to a remote role? It happens sometimes that a person isn’t thriving in their position. If your employee is not meeting goals or taking appropriate responsibility while working remotely, take a proactive approach. Start by troubleshooting with them to identify what WFH challenges they encounter. Consider if they’re in the right seat or better suited for a different role. You may have the right system in place for them to succeed but they are still struggling. Before you determine they are not a fit, remember consistent coaching, documented counseling, and corrective action are always important steps to support the decision.
Ready to revisit remote work for 2024 and beyond? Your Inspiring HR consultant can help you navigate remote work in a way that works for your unique business and allows your team to benefit.