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Current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have employers seriously considering allowing their employees to work remotely. Whether temporarily or permanently, remote work is rapidly becoming an option for many. Willis HR has developed the following tips to help your business transition your employees to remote work at any time. If you need any assistance with transitioning your staff to remote work, please contact us at [email protected]

Tip #1: Set ground rules.

Establish requirements for remote workspaces, work hours, meeting schedules, and the best ways to communicate, both with management and other team members. Is an employee only approved to work remotely for a temporary period? If so, ensure the employee understands the parameters around the work arrangement.

Employees want to know what to expect and what is expected of them and providing this information upfront allows for any questions to be asked and addressed before problems or misunderstandings arise. Make sure you remind employees who to contact with questions and set timelines for when responses can be anticipated.

Tip #2: Focus on safety.

Injuries obtained during work hours while performing work duties may be subject to coverage under workers’ compensation, therefore safety in a remote work environment is just as important as safety in an office space.

Employees should know the importance of good ergonomics and should have an established workspace, free of clutter and other hazards. 

Tip #3: Determine the tools needed.

 What tools and equipment will the company provide? Make sure this information is communicated to the employee and that the employee has all the hardware and software necessary to successfully perform their job.

You should document all tools and equipment given to the employee and the employee should acknowledge that the company-owned equipment is for business use by the specified employee only. Remind the employee to report all equipment issues, including loss or damage, to management. 

Tip #4: Manage productivity but remain quality driven.

 Be sure to set clear expectations regarding the work that is to be done while working remotely and establish a plan for documenting and communicating what work has been done. Does your company use project management software, such as Trello, Google Keep, and Freedcamp? If so, that is a great way to keep everyone informed on where projects are in their completion. 

Tip #5: Maintain the connection.

Remote work can be lonely and employees may feel isolated and disconnected from their teammates. Continued communication is vital and helps to alleviate the feeling of being forgotten. Scheduled meetings should be maintained and can still be done through conference calls and video chats. Once you have allowed employees to work remotely, don’t drop the ball on communication. Keep engaged with your team by using free tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.

Tip #6: Continue to encourage growth and development.

Remote workers can sometimes be left out of consideration for new positions. Make sure that you make discussing the employee’s growth and development a priority. Also, don’t discount their desires for upward mobility because they are remote.

Tailor any training to include remote users and seek their feedback (along with onsite employees) on what they feel would be great training topics. Also, consider how you can offer refresher and supplemental training to your remote employees.

Tip #7: Morale is everything.

Don’t forget the culture your company has worked hard to create. Onsite employees are not the only ones who should benefit from a great work culture. Find ways to include your remote employees and to motivate them. 

Utilize technology to recognize employees for a job well done and to notify employees of new hires, promotions and other company updates. 

Tip #8: Embrace flexibility.

 One of the best things about remote work is the flexibility that it provides. While every employee has responsibilities and tasks that they must complete, don’t forget to allow flexibility as it is needed, for example in work hours or lunch or other breaks. Allowing flexibility helps to encourage work-life balance within your company culture.