As the emergency response to the pandemic comes to an end, companies have more or less established their policies on remote, flexible or hybrid work for the long term. The uncertainty of the future of work is starting to settle, and in one way of working or another, we have settled into a rhythm. But what if you’ve found that even after returning full-time to the brick-and-mortar office, your team was happier, more productive and performed better working from home or remotely? It might be time to consider a permanent switch to remote work. After all, as a tech startup, you’re likely equipped with all the technology you need to make it work.
Here are a few ways to manage the change to remote work without much trouble and things to consider as you do.
Understand When Your Employees Want to Work
One of the biggest benefits employees constantly talk about when it comes to working at home is that it enables them to choose their hours to an extent. Some might like working in the morning, and if that’s you or your staff, then look at some of the tips that Branch Furniture provides on their blog about how to get the most from working in the morning. You’d do well to improve your office ergonomics too, and take advantage of the expertise offered by Branch while you’re at it.
The early morning is a great time of the day to get in a bit of work before the day even starts. Many successful CEOs and high-functioning business people find that sending their emails and planning their day first thing in the morning offers them a huge boost in productivity for the rest of the day.
Others might prefer working late into the evening after the kids have gone to bed and the hustle and bustle of the day are behind them. Both of these extremes can also mean they’re likely to be at their most productive because they’re less likely to be distracted or face interruptions. Understanding your workforce and their preferences can help unlock how to schedule meetings and collaborative project get-togethers so that their unique preferences can be met along with the needs of the business.
Set Up Morning Operational Standups
Knowing that everyone is on the same page and knowing what everyone is working on can be a challenge when you’re fully remote. Having quick morning check-in sessions with the team is essential to ensuring that everyone is working cohesively and your staff has the opportunity to ask questions and get help from you before your day is consumed by meetings and your objectives. Getting onto a video call at the start of each day first thing in the morning with your team will promote good and healthy communication between the team and team leaders and help eliminate misunderstandings that can waste valuable time.
While you’re enabling this, perhaps look at your meeting and video call processes and tighten them up, including a policy for the recording of meetings for those that can’t or don’t need to be there and would be better served to catch up with a recording instead of being present when they have other deliverables to get done.
Establish a (New) Flexibility Policy
Now that the move to remote work is permanent, you’ll want to make sure you have your policies and procedures in place when it comes to flexibility. This means making sure you define things like minimum hours and at what times of the day you expect your employees to be available. It’s a good idea to allow some flexibility around the time that schools in your area close to allow parents to do a quick school run and perhaps once or twice on other occasions for errands that can only be done during the day. This policy should also include the procedures for things like letting colleagues know they are away from their desks and the terms of engagement when it comes to times you might ask them to be in the office physically.
Prepare for Asynchronous Work
As your company embraces remote working more and more, you might find your employees moving away from being close to your physical office if you choose to keep one, and that might mean you have to deal with different time zones, particularly if they choose to move even further afield. This means your tech startup is going to have to come to terms with and better understand how to deal with the concept and impact of asynchronous work. You might not always get quick communication from someone because of the time differences or because you specifically set aside focus time where you want to discourage communication. Technology-driven solutions and tools like Twist or GeekBot might help you with this.
Teach and Preach Self-Discipline
A remote employee that works for your tech startup needs to be able to practice a high level of self-discipline because there are far more distractions and things to do at home than there are at the office. It will be up to you to change your recruitment methods to look for staff who can demonstrate this self-discipline, but it will also be up to you to teach and lead your existing team through the transition and preach methods and a sense of self-discipline. Thankfully, most of us have had at least some practice at working from home and the discipline it requires in the last two years, so this is likely not to be too much of a problem but be careful not to let standards slip.
Because you’re working in tech, the technical implementation of what it takes to work remotely shouldn’t be a challenge for you, and likely your bigger challenge is going to be your staff and meeting everyone’s unique wants and needs. Don’t be too lenient on what you allow, but don’t make working remotely just as constricting as being in the office, or your staff will lose motivation and disengage just as much as if they were physically present. It’s a careful balancing act, and it will take some time and trial and error to get right.