Whether remote working has been long established in your company, or you're suddenly embracing this model to ensure that your team remains productive in the current climate, many positives can emerge from this initiative – for businesses and employees.
Since no one really knows how long the lockdown will continue, or what the transition back into a normal working day will look like, it's a good idea to explore the benefits of remote working and keep employees engaged for the duration.
With careful implementation, allowing employees to work from home can:
- boost retention (companies that encourage remote working have a 25% lower staff turnover rate),
- increase productivity (75% of people like remote working because it reduces distractions),
- improve employee wellbeing (86% of people experienced reduced stress when working remotely).
For many businesses, once there is some resolution to the world pandemic, remote working will return to being an emergency default measure. For others, it may be a plausible new model worth incorporating into regular practice. But, in the meantime, there are some excellent opportunities worth highlighting to your ad interim remote team.
By taking advantage of their time at home, staff can keep productive, motivated and focussed on company goals. With this in mind, let's take a more detailed look at some of the perks your team can enjoy when working from home that we have been taking advantage of here at Incentivesmart.
1. Create their dream office
There are some age-old office snags that simply don't factor into the life of a remote worker – and oh, how blissful that can be.
For starters, they can work at their ideal temperature. Wear the toastiest slippers, turn up the heating, open the window, rev up the fan – depending on whether they work better in cooler temperatures or a slightly more tropical vibe.
The office playlist is always a controversial subject. Instead of everyone trying to block out the communal Bluetooth speaker with their headphones, staff can play their guilty pleasures out loud to their heart’s content.
Unfortunately, not every office has a great view – some don't even have a window. Working from home, however, allows employees to look out over a garden or to create an interior space that they find inspiring and comfortable.
Undoubtedly, offices encourage socialising and communication between colleagues. But, sometimes, things can get a little distracting and counterproductive. At home, unnecessary noise can be muted to avoid certain distractions and limit interruptions.
2. Optimise their lunch break
Depending on where your regular place of work is, your staff may not have had much choice in how they spent their lunch breaks in the past – and, let's be honest, everyone gets a little self-conscious about a smelly lunch, so, instead of savouring last night’s leftovers – often the healthier option, they may choose a more inoffensive (and often more expensive) alternative, like a convenience sandwich. Not exactly exciting.
Sometimes, your company's location can make employee’s feel a little boxed in – industrial areas or far-out office buildings make it difficult to run errands or squeeze in exercise. When working remotely, however, they could fit in a workout, catch up on some housework, or decompress with a hobby.
There's no rush to get back to a car and factor in a roundtrip – everything is within reach. Whether they want to pop a load of washing on or start prepping dinner, they can pack so much more into their home-based lunchbreak.
3. Socialise with colleagues
If you're a tight-knit team that enjoyed frequent get-togethers, it's important to keep that social element of your working relationships going. Or, perhaps you've been trying to introduce more social interaction into your company culture but found it challenging to sync everyone's calendars. Maybe some colleagues had a long drive home and couldn't ever really participate in the local pub quiz.
Well, since everyone's at home and there's no driving involved, why not organise an online event? At Incentivesmart, we've been hosting virtual get-togethers on Fridays after work. It's a fun way to touch base, have more relaxed conversations, play games or simply share Happy Hour with your colleagues.
Keeping these connections alive will help everyone to feel included; seeing familiar faces and sharing experiences in a more informal setting – albeit virtual – is good for mental wellbeing and making sure that your team stays united.
4. Adjust their self-care routine
The routine of getting dressed and prepped for a formal office environment can be time-consuming and stressful. Working from home allows employees to give their feet a break, spread their toes and make comfort-based fashion choices. And, since there’s no exposure to public scrutiny, now’s a great time to try that adventurous hair colour or trial a lumberjack beard.
Since there’s no commuting, workers can enjoy a better sleep routine, too. The alarm clock can be tweaked to include a little extra snooze in the morning. Or, as there’s no traffic to sit in after work, earlier bedtimes can enable employees to wake up early and seize the opportunity to go for a jog – something they may have previously been unable to do.
5. Enjoy their pets
Do some of your employees have furry companions at home? Well, working from home takes away the guilt of leaving them for work in the morning and allows them to give their pet all the attention they deserve. In turn, they can enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of having a pet nearby.
It also means, if they previously paid for a dog walker or a pet check in service, they can put that money away for a rainy day (or extra pet treats) and take their pooch for a lunchtime stroll. Walking increases creativity by as much as 60%, so not only will they have a happier dog, but your staff may also return to their desk with an ingenious new idea for the project they are working on.
6. Get to know their neighbours
If there's one thing rising to prominence in light of current events, it's our need for a sense of community. 73% of Britons don't know who their neighbours are. Understandably, we lead busy lives: school runs, meetings, errands, family commitments. Modern life moves at a tremendous pace.
Building contacts in their local community helps to plug your staff into their immediate environment, involving them in important decisions that impact their residential life, and gives them access to an essential support network. Even if it's a conversation over the fence or a quick check in to see whether an elderly neighbour needs some assistance, these small efforts to connect with people around them help to alleviate the sense of isolation and increase a feel-good factor.
7. Step up the self-development
If the exclusion of a daily commute has given workers a little more wiggle room in their daily schedule, they should seize the opportunity to learn new skills, master a tool that will help them in their role or take up a course that may lead to a promotion. Not only does it give them a chance for work-related development, but they could also use the time to take up something more personal, such as taking an online cooking course or knitting course.
Continuous learning and refreshing of skills is a rewarding and motivating experience. Help your workers with their self-development by providing them with the tools and resources to better themselves.
As we all try our best to make headway in these unchartered waters, it's essential to look at the positives that are being brought to the forefront. If your company is able to adapt and enable remote working, there are many benefits that could significantly improve how employees feel about their job, and, consequently, enhance their performance.