It’s been a year since we started overusing this phrase, meaning it has been a year of remote work for our team at Shireburn Software.
Twelve months ago, most organisations took the decision to enable work from home as a precaution to safeguard their employees and clients from a fast emerging flu-like disease called COVID-19. People from all over the world turned their kitchens and bedrooms into remote offices. At first, many thought this workplace shift would last a couple of months, but one year later, millions of employees are still working remotely.
So, what has this remote working experiment taught us? This is how we have adapted as a company and the lessons we have learnt thus far, hoping that they might help you, too.
Flexibility is the new normal
For some organisations, remote work has been treated as a temporary contingency plan put in place to keep the business afloat until the feeling of uncertainty is over. However, companies are now perceiving workplace flexibility as a more permanent change, and this requires adequate planning.
At Shireburn, we always gave importance to work flexibility, and this has always been a reality for our team, especially with some of our employees being fully remote even before COVID. Although we have long recognised the benefit and had the necessary infrastructure in place as a part of our disaster recovery procedures, the shift has been a test for us, too. It has helped us recognise our strengths, and uncover the necessary changes needed to adapt to a virtual organisation model.
In our view, if you can offer a flexible workplace, do so. Times are changing, organisations are adapting—and it’s not temporary, so don’t be left behind. Employees value flexibility, and above all they value trust. Retain your current workforce by offering a dynamic environment and broaden your recruitment prospects when adopting a “work-from-anywhere” approach.
Write or update your remote work policy
Formulating a remote or flexible work policy is crucial, and it should be at the very top of the organisation’s priority list. Not only does this serve as a legal safeguard for the company, but it also provides a structure for the team to follow whilst working remotely.
Performance and behavioural expectations, required tools and available online resources should be made clear to everyone. We have found this extremely beneficial, especially when conducting remote onboarding of new staff members.
Having a strong policy in place will lead to a happier, healthy and more productive team.
Your digital infrastructure
Our aim here was never to “survive” but to thrive within this environment. Our tools of choice have assisted us in making this leap.
As a company, we have always planned ahead when it comes to technology, ensuring business continuity in the case of an emergency, safeguarding our staff and clients. Collaborative tools have been a key driver for this, pushing us as a company to keep on investing in our resources and optimising our internal processes.
This has also been reflected in our very own products, as we constantly try to facilitate and support our clients’ remote working environments.
Our advice? Do not take a Band-Aid approach. Invest in a proper digital workplace environment; assess your tools, talk to your teams and monitor your processes. With a little bit of effort, you can shift your team from surviving to thriving.
Empower through training
The skills required to run a successful remote workplace go beyond the ability to mute and unmute oneself during an online meeting. This is why our HR team has devised a training plan for our staff as well as providing access to a pool of online resources so one can follow any training deemed helpful.
Staff mental wellbeing is also a crucial aspect to take into consideration. In the past months, we have provided our teams with online mental help seminars to help them cope with current situations and learn how to avoid burnout created via remote work.
Adopting an inclusive and understanding culture
We have an open-door policy—albeit a virtual door for the past 12 months. We know that this helps in keeping our staff happy and it encourages people to share and voice their concerns.
The risk of staff experiencing isolation in a remote-only environment is real, and steps need to be taken to mitigate this. Whether it’s through virtual company events or just a quick check-in on a colleague, small initiatives go a long way.
A company’s culture doesn’t solely reflect its perks and benefits to employees. It’s about building a foundation that promotes supporting one another. It’s about having this reflected in your core values as an organisation.
Let’s hit the unmute button and start a conversation about the future of our workplace, one which enables us to put our people first. At Shireburn, we have, and we make sure that our values are reflected in our products to help you best manage your remote workforce.