How Remote Should Your Remote Work Strategy Really Be?

A remote work strategy should be customized to your business needs and employee preferences to be truly effective. Find out how to craft yours.

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How Remote Should Your Remote Work Strategy Really Be?

Here's what you need to know:

  • Defining a clear, long-term remote work strategy can help prevent confusion in hiring and retention
  • When creating a remote work plan, determine which time zones you want workers to be in and whether or not they need to go into the office in person at times
  • When writing remote work job descriptions, distinguish and choose between the terms “remote work,” “flexible work,” and “hybrid workplace”
  • Consider additional best practices when mapping your remote working arrangement, such as having a remote onboarding plan, providing tools for easy communication, and more
  • Get feedback from your workers to find out what they want regarding remote work

While the pandemic introduced more businesses to remote work, there’s still a debate raging on about whether it’s here to stay.

The fact is, there are many reasons to keep work from home programs:

That said, the combination of returning to work and ongoing remote services can leave businesses and employees confused.

Defining a clear, long-term remote work strategy can help allay confusion in hiring and retention.

And to get started, we need to answer 1 important question: What does your organization mean by “remote work?”

First: How remote does your company want “remote” to be?

One of the 1st considerations all HR managers and small business owners need to consider is the limitations of remote work. Clarifying what remote work means for your company can avoid miscommunications and vague, inaccurate job descriptions.

For example, when you think about remote hiring, are you considering “truly” remote talent, such as international freelancers? Or do you want someone residing within 30 miles of your headquarters?

Both are technically remote work options, but the difference between the 2 is like night and day.

When considering remote work as a permanent benefit, consider asking yourself and your team these questions:

  • Do you want to hire or work within the same time zone?
  • Can remote workers be international, national, or local?
  • Are you OK with international talent; do you want independent contractors or visa-sponsored employees?
  • If you want remote employees, do they need to come into the office regularly?
  • Would a hybrid workplace make more sense over a fully remote 1?
  • What tools would you need to keep communication seamless?
  • Can remote tools be used by in-office employees just as easily?
  • Do you plan to have a fully remote team or offer flexible scheduling benefits?

Ultimately, the extent of your remote work strategy will depend on your industry, business, and specific employees. But it helps to work through the process.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll want to write a remote work policy and add it to your employee handbook.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll want to write a remote work policy and add it to your employee handbook.

Tips for how to write remote worker job descriptions

Once you pin down your definition of “remote,” it’s time to focus on crafting a stellar job description for a remote employee. In the ad, it’s important to convey what you mean by remote. For example, if the position is:

  • Fully remote, including for international candidates, it’s probably OK to say “remote work.”
  • Fully remote, but for a restricted area, use “flexible work.”
  • Partially remote and requires some in-office time, use “hybrid workplace.”

Using concise terms in your job ad that describe the actual flexibility of the workplace will reduce non-eligible applicants from applying.

What are company culture considerations to keep in mind?

As many HR professionals have discovered, maintaining a company culture with a remote workforce offers a new kind of challenge. In fact, 66.5% of CEOs and CHROs believe that maintaining culture is the biggest obstacle to remote work.

And this makes sense. Most remote work situations started during the pandemic out of necessity. Businesses were concerned about cash flow and immediate solutions to lockdowns.

Now remote environments push towards the evolution of work and the employee’s relationship with their employer. Transforming company culture for flexible situations is the next step forward.

Companies need more than essential work tools. They may require additional systems or virtual events to recreate company culture for their remote employees.

Some best practices to consider when mapping your remote working arrangement:

  • Set up a feedback loop to gauge employee satisfaction and receive constructive criticism.
  • Have a remote onboarding plan.
  • Create work rituals, such as sprints or dedicated hours for meaningful work.
  • Offer live “group work” sessions.
  • Schedule team-building exercises and live events.
  • Design and implement a mentorship program.
  • Emphasis on the importance of teamwork.
  • Provide tools for easy communication.
  • Ensure all employees know about your remote work policy.

The benefits of providing flexible or hybrid workspaces

In most cases, there will be a flexible or hybrid work environment. This requires a more nuanced approach. Employees find a lot of value in flexible work, such as:

  • Avoiding long commutes
  • Better work-life balance
  • Improved well-being and employee satisfaction
  • More options for collaboration
  • Greater loyalty towards their organization

Employers can benefit, too. For example, if you have a hybrid office, you may not need as much space as before. Companies can benefit from spending less on real estate while boosting employee productivity.

Digitized and automated systems built around remote or flexible work further reduce labor and time spent on manual tasks. This can lower expenses, foster transparency, support meaningful work, and improve company operations across the board.

When working with flexible or hybrid environments, you’ll want to follow these steps:

Map out your current processes, roles, and requirements

Not every role can be completed off-site, but many can. Understanding what roles can be permanently hybrid and which processes can be made remote-friendly is the first step. And you may have already done most of this work during the pandemic.

But you’ll want to be a bit more detailed with this version. In addition to general work operations and rules, also consider what aspects of company culture and employee collaboration can be made virtual or partially remote.

Use employee self-service for PTO and scheduling

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce the workload for your HR team and improve scheduling is to allow employees to schedule work or days off directly via employee self-service.

You may also want to implement an employee time tracking solution for hourly workers. An online timesheet can make payroll a breeze and ensure that employees know how much time they spend at work.

Reduce meetings — virtually and in-person

While face time is important, employees and managers alike lose out when participating in an endless meeting cycle. Craft a lean meeting plan that includes regular 15-minute check-ins with employees and core discussions, but don’t over-schedule.

Promote a sound work-life balance

When work is flexible, it can easily bleed into personal time, resulting in burnout. Encourage employees to set regular schedules for themselves to avoid fatigue and overworking.

Have informal social events at the office

While in the past workers were eager to get home, in the era of remote work, there can be some benefits to sticking around. Complimentary lunches, office parties, and other occasional events provide social opportunities and can help improve employee collaboration.

Consider switching to an unlimited PTO policy

Unlimited PTO policies are often underutilized. But if most of your workforce is remote or partially remote, an unlimited plan can reduce scheduling complexity and tax liabilities.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

Answer to see the results

Get feedback from your workers to find out what they want

Whether your staff is 100% at the office or remote or somewhere in between, a sound remote working strategy starts with employee well-being.

According to Gallup, around 87% of workers are not engaged with their work. Remote work and flexible schedules can help bring that number down — but you need the full story to make the difference.

After all, if most of your employees enjoy the workplace, do you need remote options? Why not just go with flexible schedules and unlimited PTO?

In contrast, you may have many remote employees, and your workers may suggest a better collaboration tool for improved performance or convenience.

When it comes to getting a pulse on what your employees really want, especially regarding their well-being, it helps to have a checklist. Get our People Operations Guide and Checklist for Employee Well-being for guidance on improving flexible work arrangements and employee motivation.

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