Written by María Eugenia Raffaele
Until around a year ago, many companies didn’t know how to migrate to a home office model, or how to improve remote work environments. Today, however, most of them have managed to help their employees adapt to this changing scenario. So, what lies behind this adaptation? A strong organizational culture that provides adequate tools to keep people connected, engaged and takes care of each individual’s well-being. As a leader, you will probably notice that some of the challenges we point out in this article ring the bell. So, we suggest you read it to the end if you want to find out our strategies to improve remote working.
In a recent survey, 80% of leaders from a variety of organizations stated they plan to introduce remote work at least partially once the pandemic is over, and 47% said they will allow some positions to work from home full time. We’ve already anticipated this in our previous article: remote work is here to stay. Need more evidence? 78% of the 669 global CEOs interviewed in this study, agreed that working from home is part of the new normal in the world of work.
An increasing number of people around the world are getting used to flexible working hours, organizing their work by objectives and using technology to keep in touch.
- 77% of employees state they feel more productive with this model.
- 88% of organizations migrated to remote work or allowed hybrid work models after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
- 99% of people want to continue working partially from home in the future.
For some companies, however, improving home office represents a greater challenge – especially for those that have not yet been able to develop a culture in which communication flows effectively and where everyone remains on the same page concerning the emerging needs and expectations in the company. Without a doubt, companies that do not have a flexible and adaptive culture are likely to lag behind in this highly competitive race.
How do people feel when working remotely?
Hybrid models, which combine presence and remote work, have become the best possible response to the changes caused by COVID around the planet. But, which are the most common challenges people have come across while working remotely for the past year?
For some leaders, this scenario is also complex: recent research shows that they fear they might not be leading their remote teams effectively, and most of them are afraid of falling into micromanaging or transmitting a sense of mistrust.
Good news is that, despite their doubts, employees believe their leaders are on the right track. So what can you do to keep improving your team’s remote work experience? Continue building a culture that provides your employees with the right tools and well-being to keep them motivated and committed to the company.
Here are the key areas you should focus on to reinforce your culture and some ideas you can implement in your organization to improve work from home.
How to improve home office
#1 Communication and coordination
Without a doubt, communication is the keystone that allows organizations to work successfully. In times of remote work, when stress and work-life balance have become daily issues we deal with, communicational short-circuits are more frequent and they lead to negative consequences such as duplication of tasks, low morale, unmet goals and the lack of alignment between the expectations of the company vs. those of your employees.
Fortunately, there are practices you can implement to make your communication an effective and clear process that ensures everyone is on the same page.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Create a remote communication policy that defines good practices and establishes healthy limits for your teams.
- Check how many communication tools / channels you have. Are they all essential and / or effective?
- Encourage an environment of honest communication through digital culture platforms that increase and improve collaboration.
- Be always clear and drive frequent one-on-one follow-up meetings to make sure everyone understands your messages.
# 2 Keep your employees connected and promote your organizational culture
Home office dramatically changed the way people collaborate with their colleagues and managers. Finding ways to stay together and spread our company’s culture has always been complex, and now the question on how to improve work from home can turn more difficult than ever, given the stress and burnout that many people experience today.
But do not worry! The answer again lies in your organizational culture: if it’s strong enough, you can make people feel close, connected, committed, and willing to give their best to achieve top results, beyond physical boundaries.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- Recognize your teams for their daily victories and link recognitions to your organizational values. Also, make them public so that everyone can see daily interactions – this way you will be setting an example of what you want for your company.
- Not everything has to be work: make room for personal conversations with your employees to talk about their life. Remember to stay receptive and empathetic.
- Encourage team building activities at least once a month.
- Implement a wellbeing policy to look after people’s physical and emotional state. Any ideas? Yoga, mental health containment spaces, healthy cooking classes, family activities, etc. When it comes to staying close, the sky’s the limit!
- Keep up with their emotions, level of motivation and needs through periodic surveys.
# 3 Performance and goal alignment
Undoubtedly, most companies have found ways to keep their businesses active with remote work, but… does this mean that everyone is successfully meeting goals and expectations?
Home office requires an extra dose of clarity when it comes to communicating where the company is heading, and what the individual, team and organizational goals are.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Get your teams involved with the organization’s results by making them part of the goal-setting process.
- Apply innovative work approaches like SMART Goals and OKRs to make your goals challenging and engaging.
- Encourage ongoing feedback to make sure everyone knows how they are doing and what adjustments need to be made.
- Don’t take anything for granted! Use performance management technologies that allow you to know what the evolution of goals is over time.
How to improve work from home? Start today
The challenge leaders face on how to improve home office experience is encouraging them to look for new and creative ways to take care of their teams’ well-being, and keep them close and connected. As Time magazine stated, these months have been “the world’s greatest work-from-home experiment”; and while we re-evaluate our current strategies, there is a truth that we must embrace: remote work is here to stay.
The future of work is already here, and having a modern and strong digital culture represents a competitive edge: it helps us balance face-to-face / remote work, and it empowers employees to make faster and accurate decisions aligned with our company’s objectives. Therefore, although it may seem overwhelming at first, we want to assure you that the first step to stay ahead of the game is to be clear about your company’s culture, needs and objectives. Of course, if you still have doubts, don’t worry, you can always contact us so we can help you build the organization you dream of.