January 24, 2022
Remote operations have been one of the primary tools for businesses to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. While the necessity for social distancing prompted its adoption, the method has life beyond this. Your company may be among the many to note the distinct cost-saving, productivity, and staff satisfaction benefits the practice offers. As such, you may have started recruiting specifically for remote roles.
It can be tempting to focus on those candidates with some experience in working from a distance. But that doesn't always mean they're the most talented potential contributors. With the right guidance, remote newbies can also be innovative influencers of your company's success.
But how do you help these workers along the learning curve of the remote lifestyle? Let's take a closer look at a few areas of focus.
From atmospheric and practical perspectives, remote work can be something of a shock to the system. This is particularly the case if your new hire has previously become used to a structured in-office environment or university. As such, you need to put some focus on walking them through how to function as a remote worker.
This should begin with your worker's first day on the job. Your remote onboarding procedures are vital to giving your new hire the best possible start and setting expectations for their future with the company. Distance onboarding has many of the same goals as the in-person introduction. You want to give them a warm welcome while making it clear what their role entails and how to go about performing tasks. However, you should place extra attention on giving step-by-step instructions to your employee. This applies to both the meat of their job but also the timetable of their onboarding process. This streamlines the process and gives opportunities for clarity.
Alongside guiding them through the onboarding process, it can be helpful to assign a colleague as their mentor. Teaming up with a worker in the same role that has experience in performing the tasks remotely can give them valuable practical knowledge. The mentor may also offer insights into and solutions for common remote working challenges. By placing focus here you're giving new employees opportunities to make meaningful connections with their fellow team members while delivering a positive remote training experience.
Remote working has a reputation for being a perk. However, it certainly has its share of difficulties. This isnt' just from a practical perspective. The isolation experienced due to working from home, a lack of outlets for stress, and even working later in the home office can have a detrimental impact on workers' wellbeing. It is a moral imperative for you to take steps to mitigate the strain on new remote workers. This can also benefit your business by limiting absenteeism and reducing turnover.
Take the time to educate your new remote employees about the various risks involved with remote work. Talk to them about burnout and how this can present. Indeed, if your employees have no history of mental illness they may not be familiar with what the symptoms of depression and anxiety are or how to manage them. Discuss the mental elements, like excessive worrying, but also how there can be physical symptoms of fatigue and appetite changes. Make it clear your workplace is stigma-free in this regard and encourage them to talk to you if they have concerns. This allows you both to collaborate on solutions and support new employees through tough times.
It is particularly important to keep engaging with your new remote employees in ways that keep wellness a priority for everyone. This can include scheduling regular casual team video chat meetings so everyone can feel more connected and supported. Make recommendations for at-desk exercise activities and enforce their taking of regular breaks. If practical, provide them with resources to assist in their continued wellbeing. This could take the form of subsidized local gym memberships or subscriptions for healthy snack deliveries.
The office space makes a difference. Working from home has a reputation for being a great option because workers are in a space they feel most comfortable. But this can be challenging for those new to the practice. They may find it difficult to separate their work and home lives if they don't have a dedicated space. Their decorations and personal items may be more conducive to distractions than productivity. As such, it's worth taking time to help shape their home working environment.
Wherever possible, arrange a budget to provide them with resources. A recent survey found only 21% of remote workers felt their employers were effective in providing home office equipment. Just because your employees aren't in a central location, this doesn't mean they should be paying for all the tools they need. Certainly provide them with the basics of computers and phones. But also talk to them about what they need in terms of a desk, ergonomic seating, and even secure internet connections. If you are unable to invest in all these items, it can also be worth arranging access to coworking spaces at least a couple of days a week.
The environment isn't just about the equipment and furniture, it's also about the living elements around them. After all, your workers may have children or pets and these can become distractions. Talk to them through effective ways to handle these elements. It may seem insignificant, but there are common challenges workers with dogs come across in the home offices, such as barking during meetings and disrupting the workspace. Help employees to understand how actions like taking ownership of the workspace and practicing mental stimulation can mitigate issues.
Remote operations can be a huge benefit to your business, but not every employee will be immediately suited to it. It's important to put effort into providing relevant remote training from the outset. Make sure you provide support to maintain their wellbeing and ensure their surroundings are fit for productivity. It can take some effort and investment, but these steps to assist your new remote employees can have a positive impact in the long run.