COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused a huge range of challenges for businesses across the country – but not everything about this pandemic has to be seen as a negative for companies. One thing that it has shown is that many roles can actually be done remotely, without the need for a member of staff to come into the office.
It may well be the case that remote working is finally going to become very mainstream, and this has led to the idea of ‘remote-first’ businesses – companies primarily made up of remote staff. This can have a huge number of implications, perhaps notably cost. It removes the need for expensive offices and lightens companies’ finances enormously.
But if your business is going remote-first, there are plenty of things that you will still need to think about; not least, how you will attract staff and keep them happy in the changing working landscape. Here we take a look at how companies should adapt to attract talent for a remote-first business.
1. Offer useful perks
The first thing to think about here is that remote staff are typically looking for something a little different to workers who are happy to work in an office. Flexibility is key to remote staff, but they also want more from their working environment. Consider the fact that in an office environment you might offer a range of perks: carpools, cycling schemes, free tea and coffee, fresh fruit etc.
You, therefore, need to be doing everything you can to incentivise remote staff too. Homeworkers could benefit from businesses providing them with office equipment such as an ergonomic chair, or a work laptop. You could go further and offer things such as gym memberships or work perks memberships. This is actually an important point for those considering a more permanent move to remote working. They must ensure that they have a healthy working environment. Making do with inferior equipment will ultimately lead to more long term health issues.
2. Ensure remote working is not a career drawback
It is important to understand that many people who like the idea of working remotely can be put off the concept because they think it will hinder their career. It has typically been the case that companies have not been so good at keeping track of or reward the hard work put in by remote staff. This is something that has to change in a remote-first environment.
It is up to managers and those in positions of power in remote-first businesses to closely track and monitor the successes of staff, as well as finding ways to analyse performance. Remote staff may be working very hard and wish to progress in the company, so it is up to managers to notice this.
3. Bringing teams together can be an event
If your company is going to have a large number of staff members who work remotely, it is important to bring them together on occasion. There is still a lot to be said for shared social interaction. It can help with team bonding and create a better atmosphere in the business, which can ultimately be a huge boost to productivity.
There are already examples of companies who are choosing to find ways to connect their remote staff after lockdown.
“Since COVID-19 we have seen a rise in the number of businesses looking to book venues,” says the team at Best Conference Venues London “whether it is for training, celebration, meetings, or staff days, a high prestige venue can really help to motivate teams and encourage staff to give more to their company”.
4. Look for the right behaviours
You also need to consider changing your interview process. Many people look at the benefits of remote work and think that it would be positive for them. However, not everyone is cut out of for this kind of change. When you are recruiting for candidates you need to really think about the sorts of behaviours that these members of staff exhibit, and consider whether it is going to be right for the business.
Remote staff need to understand how to get on with work without supervision. They must be trusted to motivate themselves through their working day. It can be the kind of thing that is suited to workers who are typically happy to work alone. But this might not be the best solution for those who thrive in a team atmosphere.
Post-COVID-19 businesses might be more willing to make changes to the way that they operate. As long as they perceive that there are enough benefits.
It has been essential to embrace remote working as a consequence of the pandemic. This has enabled most companies to trial it and establish whether it is right for them to consider remote working as a longer-term solution.
It is important to understand, however, that not all companies will retain remote working as an option. For some it is impractical and for others, being in an office, working in a team and having the office infrastructure around them, helps to improve productivity significantly more than working from home does.
However, we can still see remote working benefits, even if it is to support the employees in times of need. When children are off school or ill while being at home to receive a delivery or meet a tradesperson and during periods of bad or dangerous weather. As we now know that people do have the capacity to do a good day’s work remotely.
One final word of caution on this topic. Working within the office, brings people together, socially interacting, collaborating and communicating. We must monitor the health impact on remote workers closely. The early signs are already showing a significant increase in mental health-related issues arising from the lockdown. Remote working could mean significant isolation for some people. This is an area that isn’t given as much consideration as perhaps it should be when discussing this subject.