How to Make Remote Working Work for You

COVID-19 lockdowns have forced many of us into joining a remote working revolution, whether we like it or not. If you’re finding the abrupt change difficult to manage, you’re in good company. To help you adapt, we at Rossum would like to give you some insights into how remote working can boost productivity, as well as how it impacts your workforce.

The new normal of the business world has caught a lot of companies off guard. Whether your organization experimented with remote work, adopted it with open arms, or outright rejected it, you don’t have much say in the matter now. As some companies have discovered, public backlash against their insistence on staying open is more powerful than government-mandated restrictions.

Rossum and Remote Working

At Rossum, we’ve been fortunate enough to adapt to remote working fairly easily. We were already collaborating and communicating virtually; Google Docs, Trello, Zoom, and Slack are just a few solutions that have been essential to our operations from Day One. So from a purely business-related perspective, the change wasn’t that much of a shock to us.

However, that’s not to say that it’s all been smooth sailing. Over the past month, we’ve not only experienced the productivity gains that come with remote working, we’ve also had to overcome the challenges that come with it – challenges amplified by an aggressive implementation timeline. 

Throughout this period, we’ve seen opportunities to not only maintain business continuity during lockdown, but to actually make improvements that will benefit your organization in the long run.

Remote Working Increases Productivity

The productivity gains of working at home vary from source to source. For instance, a 2019 Airtasker study found that in the US remote workers work an additional 10 minutes per day, while a more recent NordVPN Teams survey discovered that Americans work an extra three hours per day at their home offices.

Remote workers are putting in more hours according to a NordVPN survey.

Of course, circumstances are a lot different now than they were a year ago. The discrepancy between the two studies could come down to the fact that more Americans are now working during the average 27 minutes we’d normally spend commuting to and from work. Also, many of us are plausibly burying ourselves in work to help take our minds off the pandemic.

Optimize Overtime: Stay Connected in the Cloud

Whatever their reasons for putting in overtime, your employees need the right online tools to ensure those extra hours are delivering results. If, like us, you were already working in the cloud before the coronavirus lockdown, you’ve got a head start. 

On the other hand, you may need to move some on-premises systems, like your accounting software or enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, to the cloud so your teams and/or colleagues can access them remotely. In the spirit of respect and empathy, much of the tech community has been doing its part to help you transition into remote work as smoothly as possible. 

Microsoft, LogMeIn, and Cisco are just a few of the major players offering free services that have more than enough features to keep your operations running uninterrupted. Some have even upgraded or expanded their paid services; for example, until July 1, 2020, Google is giving its G Suite customers free access to its enterprise version of Hangouts Meet.

Extra Hours Come With a Price

While remote workers are putting in more time to get more done, the above-mentioned Airtasker study also reports they’re more stressed and having a hard time achieving a healthy work-life balance. To maintain a positive level of employee satisfaction and prevent burnout, your organization needs to provide support and resources that can keep your workforce engaged and productive.

You can identify opportunities for improvement and prevent issues from snowballing into crippling inefficiencies when you monitor and measure employee activities. Time trackers like Toggl and application dashboards like Rossum’s Usage Reporting Dashboard can give you valuable insights into individual and team performance at a glance.

Rossum's usage reporting dashboard helps you track AP performance.

For Some, Remote Work Is as Stressful as It is Strange

For the time being, remote work is not a perk, it’s our civic duty. As we settle into our home offices to help flatten the coronavirus curve, a lot of us are entering unfamiliar territory. According to the OECD in Paris, 6 out of 10 EU citizens haven’t worked from home since 2018. To mitigate the compounded stresses of mandatory remote working and the pandemic itself, you need to support your employees with resources that will help them not only in terms of productivity, but also socially, creatively, and even existentially.

Keep in Touch

One of the frequently mentioned benefits of remote working is uninterrupted focus. “Employees whose jobs require concentration or significant problem-solving often need focused time to think deeply about the task at hand,” according to industrial/organizational psychologist Timothy Golden, PhD, “In a shared office full of potential interruptions, that can be hard to do.”

However, just like the productivity gains from employee overtime, there’s a downside to working in a disruption-free environment. Well, relatively disruption-free – we’ll leave partners, children, and pets out of this.

Under orders to #stayathome and self-isolate, we’ve lost a certain degree of the team spirit, collaboration, and creativity that only physical face-to-face (not Facetime) communication stimulates. We can safely assume that even the introverts who have embraced remote working wholeheartedly crave some human connection at some point.

To compensate, we at Rossum are taking an “over-communication” approach. In addition to daily standups for every team, we have daily virtual coffee breaks and a monthly virtual pub night. Rather than emailing each other, we chat through Slack and make video calls through Google Hangouts Meet and Zoom. 

Rossum's virtual daily coffee break helps invigorate team spirit.

We know these tech-based solutions can’t deliver the human connectedness we get in the office, but we’ve found them successful in keeping our tight-knit team close and creative.

Maintain Business Continuity

Your business may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you’re closed for business. COVID-19 may have changed the business landscape forever, but you can easily access the tools you need to keep your remote talent productive, communicative, and collaborative until, and after, you open your doors again.

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