The pandemic has forced teams everywhere to conduct work remotely. What companies have succeeded from this exercise and why?
Rosica’s workplace is now remote; nearly all team members opt to work from home. They report higher levels of efficiency and satisfaction and the work we are delivering to clients is stronger and more impactful than ever before. Chris Rosica, president of Rosica Communications, recently told Forbes, “I never could have imagined supporting a partial remote work environment, let alone a fully remote scenario, but we love it and encourage other nonprofits and businesses to follow suit.”
According to Pew Research, roughly 6 in 10 U.S workers “who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time.” Remote work has become the preference of many employees who can do so and for many organizations, it’s here to stay.
If it bolsters employee satisfaction and results, as it’s done for our PR and digital marketing teams, organizations should consider letting part (or all) of the team remain or become virtual.
Here’s what we’ve learned from the experience:
Productivity and a sense of agency
Many opponents of working at home question whether workers remain productive. A recent Stanford study found that workers actually complete more work at home than they do in the office, pointing to a roughly five percent productivity boost. There are ways that employees can be intentional about having a productive workday from home. Setting daily schedules and to-do lists, creating a designated workspace, eliminating distractions, and setting specific goals help team members stay focused. In fact, now many say in that working in-office can be distracting and hurt people’s ability to focus. Working remotely, employers can foster an environment of problem solving, so employees always feel comfortable conveying their work needs or challenges. This is an opportunity for team members to exercise independence and grow their sense of agency while simultaneously enhancing their team building skills. They have more opportunity take the lead on projects that interest them, and this boosts confidence and the willingness to take on other important projects.
Consistent communication teams can count on
An agency client recently reported that she is back in the office full time. She says, “It’s counter intuitive. Internal communication has not improved and it’s less intentional. People often stay in their offices or cubicles and find themselves in meetings they shouldn’t really have to be in – in meetings where they are not responsible for any future action steps.”
The open-door policy has become a reality and a real benefit to our people in this virtual work environment. We are more available and present for one another than ever before – and there’s more compassion and respect in the air.
Designated check-ins let employees know that they have time to express their needs or follow-up on important items. They serve as an opportunity for leadership to get an idea of their employees’ day-to-day activities and assess how to give any additional support that is needed.
Working virtually, most companies have developed rhythms for communications – with more structure and focus. At Rosica, the managers have a daily huddle and also meet briefly with their teams to discuss priorities, imperatives, strategies, and tactics. Because we do not see one another in person, discussions are almost always intentional and productive. Nonprofits and for-profit organizations alike should evaluate the impact of communications in a remote work environment versus an in-person one and ask their managers and team members where the most [quality] work gets done.
Engagement and flexibility
Remote work does not generally provide the one-on-one interaction some desire, but many do flourish in this environment. At Rosica, we just had a managers’ off-site, which took place at one of our homes. The five of us had a meal together, brainstormed creative ideas for our clients, laughed, and got to enjoy one another’s company, all while making important progress toward our goals. When the weather warms in Vermont next spring, we’ll fly everyone to a mountain retreat for all team members for some [planned fun]!
Now that we’re saving on commute time and can actually get our food shopping done before 10 PM, all our people get to address their business and personal needs. Trust has never been stronger, and people are doing their very best work. We are also able to take a step back and look at what people do best and what they like to do and try and mold their jobs with that in mind. We like to say we lean into our strengths and complement each other’s talents and work styles.
Final thoughts for embracing remote work like a pro
Rosica has seen firsthand the benefits of embracing the remote team model. We now have employees around the country, which fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being successful requires clear expectations and scheduling, strong communication, and supporting the needs of employees – and we are up to the task. We have just hired a full-time project manager to help improve our systems and technologies. Undoubtedly, she will help increase productivity [even further] while making people’s lives easier by streamlining communications and providing smart organizational practices.
Making the shift to remote work doesn’t have to be daunting when the right strategies are in place to facilitate teamwork. Remember there are a plethora of resources and technologies to support the virtual workplace archetype. And don’t forget to read the recent Forbes article by clicking the link above.