What Does Working Remotely Mean? Establishing Remote Work Culture at the Company

  • December 2, 2020
  • by Kate Borucka
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Working from home isn’t anything new. In fact, we can do our job effectively wherever we are. But since the pandemic outburst, many of us were forced to switch to working remotely, not even being previously experienced with it.

Establishing a new work routine turned out to be tougher than many have expected. Employee relationships have suffered, especially for those who were used to regular face-to-face contact with their teammates.

👉 Read about 10 biggest challenges of working from home

TimeCamp consists of both office and remote workers, so I bet we’re experienced to advise when it comes to remote work. As we mentioned a few months ago, it took us two days to switch from office to remote working style – starting from the higher-ups’ decisions to the final implementation.

So here’s a comprehensive guide we hope can help you effectively switch to remote work.

What Is Remote Work?

Remote work has many names – telecommuting, telework, work from anywhere, or working from home. It’s a set up in which employees don’t commute to the office but work from a remote location.

So instead of traveling every day to the company headquarters, people can perform their tasks from any desired location. It can be a full-time or part-time job, depending on the company’s needs and remote worker preferences.

Remote work, even though still not accepted in some companies, is becoming a standard and there’s a steady rise in the remote workforce. According to statistics, regular work-at-home has grown 173% since 2005, 11% faster than the rest of the workforce (which grew 15%) and nearly 47 times faster than the self-employed population (which grew by 4%).

There’s been a great shift in the mindset of the workforce as, according to this report, more than half of full-time in-office employees want to work remotely. The numbers keep growing and it seems that remote work won’t go anywhere in the nearest future.

How Do People Work Remotely?

Working remotely gives a lot of flexibility. There are many ways of teleworking – working from your own dedicated environment, be it working from your home office, coffee shops, coworking spaces, to digital nomading, and traveling across the world.

With the right tools and technology, it’s possible to have your personal office in every location, no matter the time zone.

You can find many jobs that can be done remotely. People from all industries can have a remote jobfreelancers, individual contractors, managers, CEOs, IT professionals, lawyers, teachers, salespeople, translators, writers, digital agencies, accountants, and many more.

There are companies that hire remote-only employees such as Attentive, BigUniverse, Codebusters, Edgar, or Hubstaff.

But there are also companies that operate in a hybrid model and hire both remote and in-office workers. And that’s us, TimeCamp.

👉 Check our article about time tracking for contractors

Why Work Remotely?

There are many reasons why people decide to switch to remote working. Recently, one of the factors has been pandemic. But usually, it’s flexibility and having control over your time and schedule.

Let’s take a look at other common reasons and benefits of remote work:

  • Lower cost structure – saving money on office rental, expenses, and commuting costs, especially for small businesses and startups that have a limited budget.
  • Increased productivity – many people prefer to work from home rather than at an office. Do you know that it’s scientifically proven that office noise can decrease efficiency? And for those who miss the office sounds, there are dedicated apps that generate office noises. And everyone’s happy!
  • For companies, it’s a chance to attract top talents from across the globe. And for workers, it’s a chance to grow professionally and pursue a dream job.
  • Better work-life balance. People can adjust work hours to personal schedule, spend more time with friends and family, and take better care of health.
  • Higher motivation. People are working in their favorite surroundings, at the preferred time, in the cherry-picked organization. There’s nothing more motivating to do your work!
  • Openness for new possibilities – flexibility allows the company or an individual to gain worldwide clients. That helps to promote the brand, product, or service on the international market.
  • For some, it’s even an opportunity to save the environment as traveling to the office every day and depleting resources such as energy or fuel contributes to carbon emission (just think about the change we could make if more companies switched to remote work!)

Working remotely gives a certain kind of freedom, boosts personal and career growth, and makes it enjoyable to have a job.

How Can a Company Create a Remote Culture?

Now that you fully understand what it means to work remotely, you can think about establishing a remote environment within your company.

Here are some of the most helpful practices!

Define vision, mission, and goals

The core of every company are its values. To create a healthy remote culture you need to openly discuss the vision, mission, and goals. According to the 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study, the vast majority of job seekers cite culture as at least of relative importance in applying to a company — and 46% claim it’s very important.

Talk about the company, its history, and create a roadmap to showcase every step of its development and activity. You can create a document explaining your goals, working processes, regulations and guidelines, and technical requirements. Get creative and make videos, infographics, share processes documentation that will help your team get to know the company and fully understand its values.

Tell what it means for the employer and employees, what are the opportunities, benefits, expectations. But also be open about possible risks and difficulties. What’s the viewpoint on specific issues? Be transparent and share as much info as possible so people don’t have to wonder.

The values should mimic the daily activities. So if people’s personal values don’t align with those of the company it’s a sign they won’t be a good fit.

Defining vision, mission, and goals will be your scaffolding that will allow the team to climb up on the top, and the company to grow.

👉 Read more about career goals examples

Leverage technology

Remote work would be impossible without technology. And there are two important aspects to take care of when shaping company culture.

1. Equipment

Remote job requires professional equipment such as a computer with an HD webcam, fast and stable wi-fi connection, and additional tools.

You can help your remote workers and provide them with the necessary equipment by giving a stipend to buy what they need.

Or, if you prefer, you can follow the policy of BYOD bring your own device – and let employees use their personal devices. It gives a lot of flexibility and comfort of working in their own environment. This method, however, may be risky if you don’t have strong security protocols and handle confidential information.

Either way, the choice is yours and should correspond to the values of your organization. And you can always combine the two.

2. Software

Can you imagine working without the remote-dedicated tools? Exactly, it’s impossible! There are plenty of apps for remote teams.

The right software can help automate work, optimize processes, and cut costs on repetitive tasks.

Take care of the team spirit

Remote work is challenging for many reasons but one of the biggest is managing a team. So how to build a strong, remote team?

Don’t limit team relationships to official meetings, calls, and information exchange. There are many ways to integrate a team, from having regular coffee meetings where people can talk about anything to work gamification or team building activities.

You can also organize get-togethers, meet in a different part of the world once a year, go on a hike, celebrate work anniversary or spend time together in a nice place so everyone can catch up and get to know each other better.

Working remotely = always on?

Maura Thomas, speaker and trainer on individual and corporate productivity, attention management, and work-life balance says that being “always on” is harmful to productivity, “When employees are constantly monitoring their email after work hours — whether this is due to a fear of missing something from you, or because they are addicted to their devices — they are missing out on essential down time that brains need.”

She also points out that it’s scientifically proven that employees need downtime to deliver the best at work, “Time away produces new ideas and fresh insights. But your employees can never disconnect when they’re always reaching for their devices to see if you’ve emailed. Creativity, inspiration, and motivation are your competitive advantage, but they are also depletable resources that need to be recharged.”

So how can you solve this problem? There are three ways:

  1. Create a schedule so everyone knows when to reach out to other teammates. It’s a simple but super helpful technique that saves a lot of stress.
  2. Use time tracking software for transparency, to understand how people work, when they’re most productive, and how their schedule looks like. The right time tracker can do wonders!
  3. Adopt a time-off policy to help your team avoid work overload. Such a policy depends on your organization’s structure but it’s good to think about vacation, sick time, personal time, or paid overtime (PTO).

Even remote workers need to rest. After all, they’re humans, not machines.

👉Check also our list of the best PTO tracking software

Establish guidelines for communication

Communication and collaboration are crucial in remote work. But to make them effective, you need to organize them. How to do it? By establishing clear and practical guidelines:

  • Define what kind of information is to be covered up. Is it a simple question, specific documentation that should be written down, is it for one person or the company?
  • Then, choose communication channels. These can be formal or informal and include virtual collaboration platforms with different communication options, video and voice calls, or written messages
  • Define the best times to call, send emails, or organize meetings, especially if you work in asynchronous mode
  • Try to use one, omnichannel platform to unify communication and collaboration, for example, HeySpace, Slack, or Trello

These guidelines can help you to understand how information flows, and adjust communication practices.

Remember, communication is important. The statistics show that 85% of employees say they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news.

Invest in talent development

Don’t let your remote team rest on their laurels. Support their education, whether by buying a book on a specific subject, funding tickets to a conference, or enrolling them in a course or training.

👉 If you’re looking for interesting online conferences, make sure to check out our list of 30+ Best Online Conferences to Attend in 2020 and 2021!

That way people will develop and drive better results. Every remote worker wants to feel supported, recognized, and appreciated. It doesn’t matter if they work remotely or at an office. When you help people pursue their career, you can be sure they’ll bring a profit!

Focus on the right metrics

The essence of remote work is to proactively carry on the entrusted tasks. It’s not about working as long as you can, dressed in your pajamas, sitting in bed. It’s about objectives, outcomes, and professional approach.

It really doesn’t matter how long people work, at what time they get up, or what they wear.

So don’t micromanage, don’t spy on your employees, don’t be a supervisor. Be the lead, motivator, be the commander that inspires and supports. Focus on what matters to them and how your company can upgrade their experience so the metrics can go up.

📈 Build your remote culture on the right metrics and watch people skyrocket productivity. 🚀

Sign up for TimeCamp for free!

Promote diversity and inclusion

Asana, a project management tool, as an organization has a strong viewpoint on trust and inclusiveness:

In order for our employees to do their best work, and for us to achieve our mission, everyone at Asana must feel respected, valued, and that they belong. By creating a culture of transparency and trust, we foster psychological safety and an inclusive mindset within our company and product.

Embracing diversity and inclusion gives you a fantastic opportunity to get the best talents, hire great people, and develop a company that looks at customers’ needs through multiple perspectives.

Collect feedback and improve

Creating a positive, remote-first culture doesn’t stop with hiring the right people. It’s just part of the puzzle in working remotely.

It’s an ongoing process in which you need to observe and act quickly if you spot a flaw.

So talk to employees, get to know their needs and problems. Maybe they’re facing personal difficulties? Have they come work-related obstacles? Ask what your company could improve, what they like about it, and take the right steps to stay on top.

A happy workplace means happy employees!

To Wrap It Up

Perhaps, in the future, remote working will replace working at the office as the trend is steadily growing. And shaping a remote-first approach will become the new normal.

What does working remotely mean to you? How do you define and shape the culture in your organization? Let us know in the comments!

Kate Borucka

Kate is a freelance translator, copywriter, and a content writer specializing in time tracking software, time management, and productivity. When not researching new software, she's reading books, or spending time outdoors.

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