Thinking of implementing a remote work policy but not sure where to begin? Or maybe you already have a few co-op remote workers but are struggling to maintain open lines of communication with them. From offering a broader job candidate pool to bringing more work schedule flexibility, remote work policies can provide many benefits for co-ops and employees. However, if not implemented strategically, remote work can instead cause unforeseen pain points.
When peeling back the layers of remote work issues, a lack of communication and unclear policies are often to blame. Whether you will soon allow remote work or already have remote workers, here are five essential tips for communicating with telecommute employees and implementing remote work policies to set everyone up for success.
Which communication channels are currently used within your cooperative? Are those communication channels conducive to remote work? Auditing your co-op’s communication channels and ensuring you have the channels in place that are needed for remote workers will ease the process of communicating with telecommuters.
A few communication channels to implement include an instant messenger, a well-organized intranet, and cloud file storage. Instant messaging platforms are great channels to use for tracking when remote employees are online or offline while a well-organized intranet is essential for telecommuters to access work files and co-op policies. All employees should be given clear instructions on how to access each channel, as well as information on each channel’s purpose.
Clear corporate policies are essential for minimizing remote work pain points. Your policies regarding telecommuters will, of course, be unique to your cooperative and industry. However, a few basic elements to consider including are standard business hours when telecommute employees are expected to be working, workspace and internet connection requirements, and communication channel guidelines, among other policies.
All policies must be clearly communicated to new remote employees and easily accessible for their future reference. Clear policies set telecommuters up for success by ensuring they understand your expectations and by minimizing uncertainties regarding the remote work set-up.
Along with developing clear corporate policies, implement strong brand standards and communicate the importance of those standards to all employees. A brand guide outlines a co-op’s personality, corporate image, logo, standard colors and fonts, and more. These are important elements to ensure all employees understand because they ensure that the work produced by in-office and remote employees is on-brand and promotes the cooperative’s intended image.
Your co-op’s intranet is a great place to store your brand guide. If possible, create a branding section on the intranet that includes all essential branding elements—from email signature guidelines to letterhead artwork and more. Record a few videos from your marketing team that succinctly outline the co-op’s brand standards and link to those videos within the intranet’s branding section. Ensure that all guides and videos within the intranet’s branding section are tagged with accurate keywords. Doing so will ease the search process for all employees.
If remote work is a new concept for your cooperative, you may not be familiar with strategies for communicating with telecommuters. For example, if you’re accustomed to dropping by an employee’s in-office workspace to check in on projects, you may feel a little lost on how to communicate with new remote workers. Avoid miscommunications by assessing your digital tone.
Before clicking the send button on emails or instant messages to telecommuters, re-read the text from the employee’s perspective. Is the digital tone friendly and clear, or is it confusing with a rude undertone? If you typically joke around with employees during face-to-face conversations, be aware that the comical tone could be misunderstood through digital communication channels.
The biggest hurdle for many leaders to jump when allowing remote work is trusting that telecommuters will work as hard at home as they do in the office. Some managers feel more in control of their teams when they can see employees sitting at office desks. However, it’s essential to realize that in-office workers aren’t 100 percent dedicated to work tasks every day. Water cooler discussions, cell phones, and other distractions minimize in-office productivity.
Trust that your co-op’s telecommuters are professionals who will do their jobs when not under a manager’s watchful eye. Of course, if a remote employee breaks that trust, proper steps will need to be taken. You’ll likely find, though, that productivity issues aren’t any more prevalent among telecommuters than office workers. In fact, remote workers are often more productive and are happier with their jobs when distanced from in-office distractions and coworker drama.
Remote work is quickly becoming the norm across many industries. From connecting you with a diverse candidate pool to offering employees more flexibility, remote work can bring vast benefits. Reap the benefits of allowing remote work while avoiding common remote employee pain points by creating clear policies, implementing strong brand standards, streamlining communication channels, minding your digital tone and offering trust in telecommuters.
Looking for additional tips on starting or expanding a remote work program? A few books that can help set you in the right direction and minimize unforeseen challenges are “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership” and “Remote: Office Not Required“.
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Cadenced Communications helps corporate leaders and communications professionals find the best rhythm of communications for their organizations.
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