Remote & Async Work 11 min

8 best practices for remote working

January 4, 2024
Preston Wickersham

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Transitioning your team to fully remote work might be an appealing option — it certainly comes with desirable perks, and you've likely already seen other companies do the same. But before you make the switch, it's essential to know how to implement a remote workforce strategy. Setting remote work expectations can be challenging for employers, and managing remote employees comes with its own unique hurdles. 

If you're employing a remote team, you should assess your current remote work strategy and consider whether you're following best practices.

Continue reading to learn the key challenges and benefits of remote work, along with our eight best practices for remote working.

What are the key challenges of remote work?

Managing remote teams is becoming increasingly common for employers. Although remote work can benefit businesses, it's not without difficulties. You will need effective remote work policies in place to avoid significant obstacles. Consider the following key challenges of remote work: 

  • Keeping regular hours: Traditional office hours typically go from nine to five, Monday through Friday. But employees working from home may find it more challenging to create a similar structure. In some instances, working from home has extended the work day by up to two and a half hours

  • Maintaining personal connections: One of the main benefits of in-office work is communing with co-workers. Conversely, working from home can sometimes feel isolating, and employees may feel disconnected from their teammates without adequate team building. 

  • Functioning as a team: Without an effective communications strategy, it can be difficult for your remote employees to remember they're participating in an entire team. Consider using tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to ensure employees work together more effectively and have open lines of communication with one another. 

  • Managing employees in different time zones: As you're hiring remote employees, you have the option to hire from all over the world. While this opens you up to an enormous candidate pool, having employees who live in different time zones can make it challenging to communicate effectively and set deadlines. 

  • Hiring international employees: Whether an existing employee wants to move abroad or you're interested in hiring remote candidates from foreign countries, it can be time-consuming, risky, and expensive to hire international employees. Consider using a global staffing solution like Remote to easily hire candidates from all over the world.   

8 best practices for a remote working environment

Remote work can be productive and profitable for employers, if your team runs efficiently and consists of employees who feel valued and aligned with the company culture. 

Consider the following work-from-home best practices to ensure your organization continues running smoothly. 

1. Set schedules for team meetings

One of the best practices for working from home is scheduling regular video team meetings. It's essential that your employees don't feel isolated or think to themselves, "I'm the only one doing any work around here." You can nip this in the bud by reminding them they're part of a team.

Through weekly calls, you're not wasting your employee's time with endless meetings. At the same time, you're still allowing your team to meet and discuss what they're working on.

They can also use this time to clarify any questions they may have and foster a good working environment amongst each other. 

2. Provide employees with a flexible schedule and flexible hours

You'll have a far more productive team if you offer a flexible work schedule to your employees. While you should draft a policy around your business hours and what times employees are expected to be available, employees will be more empowered if they can control their work hours. 

A 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey by Gartner showed the importance of providing employees with a flexible work schedule, as 43% of workers reported being more productive under flexible hours.

In addition, remote workers typically work more than their in-office counterparts. Airtasker reports that employees who work from home work an average of 1.4 more days per month than those working in an office. This is because employees can get more done when they work around times that they feel productive.

3. Don't skimp out on employee recognition

One of the primary drawbacks of remote work is a feeling of employee isolation. Therefore, it's essential for remote employers to show their employee's how much they care and recognize their hard work. 

Whether you choose to do this with holiday bonuses, employee stock options, or corporate retreats, employee recognition programs matter to your workers. Employers who implement employee recognition programs experience a more than 30% reduction in voluntary employee turnover

Employee recognition should occur on a micro-level, with managers continually checking in with their subordinates, and on a macro-level, with your organization showing its appreciation for your entire team. 

4. Be proactive with potential cybersecurity threats

Preparing for potential cybersecurity threats is essential for employers of remote teams. When employees work onsite, they typically use company computers to perform their duties on a company-wide server.

However, remote teams often use personal computers and work laptops with fewer restrictions, which can ultimately lead to compromised security. According to a survey of IT professionals, nearly 55% believed that companies are at a higher risk of cybersecurity threats than those whose operations occur in a central location. 

Best practices for remote work include regular training for all employees regarding cybersecurity and an IT project management team that oversees and manages the potential threats to your company.

5. Set aside time to discuss professional development with virtual employees

Show your employees that you care about the value they bring to your company by setting aside time to discuss their professional development. Building connections across departments and companies is easier in an office setting, and remote employees lose many opportunities to mingle face-to-face with supervisors in other business areas. 

Take time to find out how your virtual employees want to grow within your organization and what you can do to help them achieve their goals. 

Whether you provide employee scholarships for continued education, opportunities for cross-training, or mentorship programs, investing in your employee's future will not only make them feel like a valued member of your team, but will also provide them with deeper insight into growing and improving your company. 

6. Make your company values clear

Your company values matter to your employees, and finding remote workers who will be a good fit is essential to the overall success of your business. By making your company values clear, you'll be sure to attract the right candidates.

More than 75% of job-seekers care about company values so much that they take the company's culture into consideration before applying for a job. Consider making your company values more transparent with clear messaging regarding how your business positively impacts the world and the lives of its employees. 

Also make sure to let the top talent know why they should work for you, highlighting items like fair wages, competitive benefits packages, and generous time off.

7. Promote employee engagement through team building activities

Feelings of isolation are a running theme amongst remote teams, so providing employees with ample opportunities to engage with one another in a casual setting is very important. 

Team building activities show that you value your employees as individuals — not just as workers — and that you want to foster an enriching environment where everyone gets along and feels like they're pulling together as a team. 

If your employees are all located in the same area, opt for a group bowling night or corporate retreat. Team building activities can be challenging with a globally dispersed team, so you may have to get creative. Activities can include company-wide competitions with prizes, virtual movie nights, and more. 

8. Ensure employees have access to company resources

Having your remote workforce all on the same page is essential, but this can be difficult to gauge as your team continues to grow. Setting up a central location where your employees can access all the company resources they might need can help them stay up to speed with company expectations and save managers time. 

If you're hiring a globally distributed workforce, a global staffing solution like Remote can help keep all onboarding documents and company resources in one place, and even allow all employees to access resources in their preferred language.

The benefits of remote work for employers

When you follow the above remote working best practices, you can provide your employees with significant benefits — benefits they wouldn't be able to receive if they were required to go into the office each day (or even if their work follows a hybrid at-home and on-site model)

Here are the primary benefits of remote work for employees. All of them translate to a happier, more productive workforce that ultimately benefits employers. 

Happier employees

A 2022 study conducted by Tracking Happiness surveyed 12,455 individuals and found that remote employees were as much as 20% happier than employees required to work in a traditional office environment. 

Working remotely directly impacts employees' lives in a positive way. Namely, it gives them a degree of freedom and control over their schedules and how they complete their work, which is difficult to achieve in a traditional work setting. 

The study went on to point out that there is a direct correlation between employee happiness and commute time, which means that employees are happiest when they are not required to include the time it takes to get to and from work into their workday. 

Furthermore, when employees are happy at work, their overall happiness improves. The average work week is 40 hours, which is a significant portion of one's waking life, so it's no surprise that when employees are unhappy at work, this can make them generally unhappy. 

Work-life balance

Research has shown that when remote teams have a conducive work-from-home setup, their work-life balance is greater than when they're working in an office. But it's important to note that a positive work-life balance through remote work depends on the individual and the company's working conditions.

When a large faction of employers was forced to transition to a remote model during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees were trying to figure out the best way to work remotely. During this time, employees reported a worsened work-life balance that resulted from reduced boundaries around the amount of work required, the amount of time spent in meetings, and the new flexibility of "traditional" business hours. Nowadays, many of these kinks have since been worked out.

The key takeaway from this is that part of the benefits of remote working comes from flexibility. Of course, if employers don't trust that their workers will be productive and go on to micromanage them, their work-life balance will be reduced. But with the right workplace boundaries and team dynamic, remote work offers employees the potential for a significantly better work-life balance. 

Employee retention

One significant benefit for employers who offer remote work is reduced employee turnover. According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs in 2021, nearly 60% of employees reported they wanted to continue working from home full-time. 

In addition, they reported that since 2005, remote working opportunities have increased by nearly 160%. This increase in available work-from-home positions means that employers may lose valued members of their remote team if they insist employees return to the office. 

Remote working also increases employee retention by allowing employees to work from anywhere. Gone are the days when employees needed to consider finding a new job before moving to a new place. 

You can now hold on to your best employees while offering them the flexibility of living wherever they want, so long as they have a functioning internet connection. 

Is it time to make the switch?

Switching to an entirely remote team provides your company with numerous benefits, such as improved employee happiness and retention. However, it's also crucial for companies to consider every aspect of managing a remote team. 

Employing the above remote working tips can increase productivity in your workforce, ensure employees are satisfied, and protect your company's best interests down the road. They're recommended for any employer considering switching to a fully remote team.

Whenever you decide to make the switch, Remote is here to help. Download our guide to hiring remote employees to learn more about what your company can do to make this transition successful. 

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