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Virtual & Homeworking

In today’s digital world, the institution of a 9-5pm working day in an office is slowly dwindling and in its place, Companies are opting for a more agile view. Adopting the latest tech available means a more flexible approach to working hours and location are fast becoming the norm. Wellness is a key ‘people agenda’ item currently along with work/life balance and mental health. Companies that implement agile working well can truly transform their business’. Benefits include; reduced overheads, increased staff engagement/loyalty, a stronger and more inclusive culture, to name but a few.

This structure doesn’t come without its risks and complications though. If it’s something you are looking to implement in your business, you’ll need to ensure you have the correct support in place to manage it.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach it!

Firstly, let’s look at the tools needed to do the job. Do you have the right technology in place to support remote working? It is your responsibility to ensure your employees have the correct tools to carry out their work.

Things to look at here are;

Hardware – laptops, phones, workspace equipment

Software –VPN secure connection, online meeting capability, wifi speeds to support

Support functions – online helpdesks for tech issues, ordering systems for replacement equipment

Another important factor to consider is security – in the post GDPR world this will be key. Access to secure online cloud storage, lockable storage at home are just two key aspects and is there an awareness of how to safely dispose of confidential documents (for example)?

Once you are satisfied you have the correct infrastructure in place it’s time to look at how you manage a virtual team. The principles are the same as for office workers, in fact the only difference will be how you implement them. More use of technology like Skype to hold virtual meetings will increase. Thought will have to be given as to how you interact with your team, how you manage performance and output.

Remote working can be a lonely place, my advice is to be supportive, make regular contact and ensure they’re kept up to date with business activities, including any happening onsite. Staff that feel like you’re “out of sight, out of mind” is not going to make for motivated or productive staff.

Be inclusive, if there is an impromptu team lunch organised, a training session, an onsite activity, a Friday social after work – ensure the invite is extended to your remote workers. 

Managing a virtual team well can deliver some amazing results for an organisation. You can attract talent you wouldn’t normally, increase productivity, reduce overheads and have an engaged workforce. What’s not to like? However, it’s true to say that agile working suits some businesses more than others and you do need the technology to implement and make agile working a true success.