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Making a Virtual Shift: Remote Work Best Practices

As COVID restrictions and lockdowns lift, organizations are faced with deciding on how to move forward with their office structure. Since the pandemic forced many offices into a virtual workspace, both organizations and their employees have simply been coping as they looked to get back to a sense of normalcy. For many organizations, there have been benefits to shifting into a remote workplace. Which has led them to look at remote work as a viable long-term strategy.

Virtual workplaces offer more flexibility than a traditional office and additional benefits for employees and organizations. However, if teams are not on the same page, that flexibility can quickly unravel and create roadblocks to productivity. As organizations decide to make the shift to virtual work permanent, it is necessary to implement remote work best practices to maximize organizational productivity and provide employees with the best possible experience. 

These best practices include creating a remote work infrastructure for all employees, as well as creating a plan for efficiently executing day-to-day projects and assignments. By focusing on these two areas, any organization can set itself up for successful remote work.

Creating a Remote Work Infrastructure

Creating an infrastructure that allows your employees to be successful in a virtual environment is an important remote work best practice. Regardless of employees’ desire to be in a remote work environment, without the proper structure in place a virtual office can be very conducive to employee burnout and organizations can’t expect their employees to thrive for long.

1. Assess and train employees

Working remotely is fundamentally different from being in the office, even when an employee is performing the same role. The soft skills that lead to successful workplace performance shift when an employee moves into a virtual role. Taking the time to learn what soft skills your employees bring to the table is one best practice for remote work. You should have some idea of existing employees’ soft skills, but using assessments, like those used in the pre-hire process, can help as well. Once you have an understanding of employees’ strengths and weaknesses then you can provide them with strategies for success. Without this understanding, you won’t be able to fully support your team in a virtual environment.

2. Set team norms

Since not every employee is in the same place physically, it’s necessary to be on the same page mentally. Having standard workflows and lines of communication is an important remote work practice. These team norms provide clarity for employees in their roles which helps to prevent employee burnout. Understanding these practices is important for any team, but it becomes even more important for virtual teams who lack face-to-face communication.

3. Provide your team with the necessary resources

Implementing remote work best practices means identifying the resources that your employees need to be successful. This applies to any software, hardware, or any other technology that they need to do their job from home. Resources for remote employees should also extend beyond the technology it takes to complete the job. Many organizations are identifying where they can adjust their benefits to better fit the needs of their virtual employees and to create a positive employee experience for those contributing remotely.  

Executing Successfully in a Virtual Workplace

Once a structure is in place for employees to thrive, it is important to ensure that workers continue to execute daily. For this to happen, expectations must be set for all team members. By setting expectations, it ensures that no assignments will slip through the cracks and your employees can take full advantage of the flexibility of a virtual workplace. There are several remote work best practices for setting expectations so your team can execute efficiently.

1. Have standard meetings

It’s important to consistently check in and interact. Schedule regular meetings at consistent times so you don’t have to waste time and energy constantly coordinating. As a full-time virtual workspace your team may expand outside of your immediate geographic location, so consider varying time zones when developing a meeting schedule. With a diverse geographic base, having standard meeting times will ensure that there is a time when your team will all be online and you can streamline any questions or communication issues that you are having.

2. Use proper communication channels

Taking time to meet regularly is important, but you don’t need to meet for everything. Knowing when to use each channel for communication increases productivity as your team’s work isn’t interrupted frequently. There is no need to schedule a meeting for something that can quickly be covered in an email and you may want to consider implementing some form of team chat for even quicker check-ins. At the same time, take advantage of the ease of virtual meetings. Rather than waste time with a back and forth email chain, jump on a quick video call to get on the same page with your team.

3. Emphasize organizational culture

It can be difficult to maintain your culture in an office where employees aren’t together, but it is necessary. Loneliness is one of the biggest issues that remote workers face. By fostering a healthy workplace culture you help develop connections among your employees. Developing a positive culture is also one of the best ways to increase employee engagement, which in turn boosts productivity and reduces burnout. Take time for your employees to get to know each other, have them collaborate closely on projects, and emphasize the core values of your team to help develop your remote team’s culture.

By implementing these remote work best practices, organizations can maximize the employee experience while simultaneously improving productivity. As you shift toward a virtual workplace, you will most likely be hiring employees to fill those positions remotely as well. Learn about how to choose a remote hiring platform that’s right for your organization.