Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With Covid-19 changing everything about daily life, remote work has become the new normal.
PwC, a consulting company, recently surveyed 133 executives and 1,200 office employees. The results found that while most executives want to get employees back in the office as soon as possible, employees are in no rush: 75 percent of the executives anticipate having at least half of employees back in the office by July of 2021, but only 61 percent of employees expect to spend half of their working hours in the office by then.
As a CEO or manager, the transition to work-from-home might feel like a headache — but the benefits aren’t just for employees.
First, employers can save big on office space, whether they’re looking to make the office completely remote or adjust the office to a hybrid space with a more flexible schedule. Depending on company size, this might mean consolidating office space, removing satellite locations or moving into smaller spaces. Either way, the opportunity for savings is huge.
Plus, working from home saves greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows that employees working from home in the U.S. save approximately 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas each year, as they aren’t commuting to work.
The other major benefit we’ve seen in the new normal is productivity: 34 percent of employees say that they are more productive working from home than they were pre-pandemic, and 52 percent of executives agree. The employees experiencing higher productivity are also more likely to say that their companies have become better at things like serving customers and collaborating on new projects.
Additionally, remote work means that you can hire top talent. Mark Zuckerberg announced that up to 50 percent of Facebook employees may be remote within the next five or ten years in an effort to create “broad-based economic prosperity,” which will allow Facebook to benefit by hiring people from different communities with different backgrounds and perspectives. When you hire remotely, you have access to a worldwide talent pool.
Not all roles and industries are a good fit for working from home. If your business does have roles that fit into remote work, there are a few things you can do to help employees manage it successfully.
Communication. Since you won’t be seeing your employees face-to-face, it’s imperative that there’s a clear way to communicate and that those lines remain open. Decide what tools your teams will use to communicate. Use video chat to help reinforce strong relationships between employees and managers.
Set clear expectations and metrics. Employees working remotely may feel as if they need to be available at all hours, or they might feel as though no one is watching them, and they can slack off. Set clear schedule expectations, clocking or checking in and signing off. Create clear, measurable metrics. Be open about what those are and how they will be measured, just as you would in the office.
Have consistent one-on-ones. These meetings should be over video chat and should make employees feel connected. You don’t have to limit one-on-ones to monthly success check-ins either. A quick ten-minute meeting each week can do wonders for the feeling of connectedness that remote work can sometimes lack.
Send frequent company updates. All employees should be in the loop with what’s going on in the company. Company updates are another way to make sure remote employees feel included.
Create strong practices for career development. It’s a common mistake to treat remote workers like contractors or freelancers. Make sure management gives their employees clear paths to follow for career-advancement opportunities.
Train managers well. Managers will do the majority of the footwork in ensuring that remote employees feel connected and comfortable. They’ll be the ones tracking productivity and making sure the remote employees are fulfilling responsibilities. Make sure your managers are trained to have strong online communication skills, so they can build rapport, boost morale and offer support.
There are plenty of positive effects of the new normal. Working from home can be extremely beneficial for both employer and employee — from lowered expenses to increased productivity. If your industry can allow for remote work, it just might be the right fit for you.