HOW TO SET UP A REMOTE WORKING CULTURE
An extract from RingCentral's playbook for working remotely in the UK.
Getting the culture of remote working right is the most important element of ensuring success. It requires a blend of the right management, communication and trust.
In the passages that follow, Prodec's partner, RingCentral, a leading provider of cloud unified communication platforms, shares some top tips from its remote work consultants and remote workers.
1) Manage clearly and effectively
A move to remote working needs to be managed by someone dedicated to overseeing the challenges. Effective management is vital to ensure people are working with accurate objectives and measurement for the benefit of the individual and organisation.
"People need absolute clarity on what you want them to achieve, and by when," says Gary Walker, a remote working consultant at Ready for Remote.
But many argue this shouldn’t be too restrictive.
Managers also need to consider how they are going to onboard new staff to the remote working process and to the company. “It’s about how you are going to engage a remote workforce.” says Shauna Moran, founder of Operate Remote and qualified business and executive coach, mentor and consultant.
“How are you going to get that company culture across and what activities and strategies can you put in place so that they are brought into the company and feel proud to work there?”
2) Trust your employees (and let them know you trust them)
One of the biggest challenges a company introducing remote working will face is trust, especially in established companies that are moving to remote working
“Without trust, remote working doesn’t work. You’re doomed to failure because you will end up interrupting your remote employees just to reassure yourself they’re working,” says Gary Walker.
Luke Kyte, Head of Culture and Business Improvement at digital marketing agency, Reddico, says it’s about taking the plunge.
“It’s easy to think that people will abuse policies, but you have to be completely trusting and jump in headfirst.”
However, employers also need to make sure their staff aren’t overworking.
“They are so worried about proving they are working remotely that they will work overtime, always be available or have no balance between being on and offline, because they will always have their phone or computer with them,” says Brittnee Bond, remote work consultant at Remote Collective.
3) Ensure staff connect with colleagues virtually
Communication between remote users and those in the office is vital. Getting this right means physically separated teams and managers know what is going on workwise and also ensures remote staff don’t end up feeling isolated.
"For many workers the office can become their entire community, so when a team is going remote you are stripping away that part of the community, so you need to create opportunities for connection." says Brittnee.
Using technology to stay connected is vital – whatever channel the employer or employee may prefer. Although many may dislike it, video conferencing can help put a face to a name and accelerate acceptance within the company by getting a new face known.
4) Enable and encourage human contact
Although the employer needs to drive it, employees must also be encouraged to build social interaction into their working life – taking advantage of local and company networking and opportunities to build relationships.
“It’s important to take responsibility for finding ways to build relationships with your colleagues and have some social interaction within your working day,”
says Elizabeth Rouski, Customer Experience Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Shauna Moran suggests businesses that have reduced costs through remote working look to reinvest some of those savings into the social experience.
“Remote working is cost-effective, but teams need to meet up on a regular basis to help facilitate the water cooler moment, and you do need to reinvest to bring people together.”
At Reddico, Luke Kyte says there is a focus on the fun factor within the business with regular get-togethers and events to help colleagues build relationships and combat the silo effect.
But it also means that those companies who may have had to previously take office space in prime locations for their industry – such as London for media – no longer need to do so, further reducing their day to day operational costs.