Remote work is becoming more mainstream these days, and it's often touted as a benefit that helps employees save money on commuting, gain more flexibility, and maintain a better work-life balance. Remote work arrangements can benefit employers, too. If your company has a large remote staff, it can result in major savings on office space, equipment, and supplies. And it can be a solid means of employee retention, which translates into additional savings.
But despite the advantages of remote work on both the employee and employer side, there may be a hidden drawback to this setup -- a negative impact on your company.
Why so? For one thing, it's hard to foster collaboration and teamwork among people who are never or rarely in the same room at the same time. Furthermore, even the most adept supervisors can struggle with remote management.
There's also the inequality factor to consider. Some jobs are more suited to remote work than others, but when you have a situation where some employees get to work from home and others are forced to show up daily to an office, the latter group can wind up feeling angry and resentful. The result? Tension among colleagues and a lack of motivation and productivity among those feeling slighted.
If you're going to maintain a remote work policy at your company, it's imperative that you avoid the aforementioned pitfalls. Here's how.
1. Establish clear communication channels among teams
Just because your employees work remotely doesn't mean they need to feel disconnected. With the advent of advanced video conferencing software and workplace chat apps, it's easy to give your employees the tools they need to stay in touch. In fact, it should be mandatory that all managers roll out these tools and insist that their team members use them. That way, remote employees can work better together, despite whatever distance exists between them.
2. Make all employees pull their weight
Just because some staff members work remotely doesn't mean they shouldn't pull their weight when deadlines loom or emergency situations arise. If you constantly call on the folks who are physically in the office to help out in a pinch or go the extra mile, they're unlikely to take kindly to it. Instead, make it clear that everyone on your staff is expected to jump in when there's a need, and aim to tap all of your resources equally as workloads warrant it.
3. Develop remote work guidelines to avoid controversy
The last thing you want is for your decision to let certain employees work remotely seem arbitrary. If it does, those who aren't afforded that option are bound to take the news poorly. To this end, it helps to establish clear guidelines for remote work within your organization. Set up criteria that dictate whether a given position can be done remotely, and communicate those rules to your staff so that everyone understands your company's guidelines.
Remote work arrangements can be extremely beneficial, but they can also backfire. Take the above steps, and you'll hopefully avoid the latter scenario.