It’s Monday morning and instead of being in the office, are you reading this while sitting on the sofa in your pajamas? Or perhaps you’re reading this and enjoying a cappuccino in the local coffee bar? If so, then you’re in good company as up to 37% of workers in the US are working remotely. And it’s a trend that’s increasing. Indeed there are many business benefits in allowing staff to work remotely. Some organizations, however, have niggling concerns about managing productivity, communications and maintaining an oversight for those employees working remotely. An office intranet is a tool that can address those concerns, allowing your business to gain full advantage of the many positives that come with remote working.
What Is Remote Working?
Remote working – also known as telecommuting or telework – is defined as being when employees carry out their duties away from the office. For some employees, such as traveling salespeople, working outside of the office has always been standard practice. Over recent decades, however, there has been an increasing tendency for traditionally office-bound employees to work remotely too. In fact, regular remote working for the non-self-employed population has grown by 103% since 2005.
Benefits Of Remote Working
Remote workers tend to be less stressed workers. Having a better work-life balance is one of the main drivers for remote working. And not having to face that daily grind of commuting is guaranteed to reduce stress levels as well as being better for the environment.
Remote workers can reduce overheads and on-costs as well as expenditure on rent and property. So encouraging different ways of working can result in considerable savings for companies over an entire workforce.
Increased Employee Engagement
Allowing employees to work flexibly with remote working improves staff morale and increases levels of employee engagement. And there is a wealth of evidence that suggests engaged employees are happier employees. And happier employees are more productive.
Organizations that actively encourage remote working have much lower levels of sickness or absenteeism. Staff members will not feel the need for a ‘duvet day’ as having a better balance in their lives, and less stress negates the need for one. Staff will be healthier overall which will be seen in a reduction in the number of lost days due to sickness.
The benefits from encouraging remote working are, therefore, quite considerable for businesses. Despite that, some organizations perceive that there are also negatives. Typically there are concerns around the following:
- How to manage productivity.
- How to maintain good communication.
- How to providing an oversight of work activity.
- How to promote a company culture.
These are valid concerns that a company intranet can help to overcome, especially cloud intranets which are mobile optimized and fully accessible remotely. Let’s examine each concern in turn and see how the company intranet can make a difference.
The perception is that staff working from home are somehow less productive: there are just too many distractions. If the truth is known, the doubters would say, most telecommuters are logged on while actually watching the box set of Game of Thrones!
While it’s true that remote working is not for all employees, the office intranet can help remote workers to be productive by ensuring all the information and business tools they need are at their fingertips. From staff directories to company calendars, policies, and procedures, the intranet contains everything the remote worker needs to get on with the job. So there will be no need to email or phone the office with requests for information. And so excuses either!
Also, collaborative workspaces and project areas on the company intranet mean that colleagues can be working together on a project in real time while physically being located many miles apart.
Maintaining Good Communication
Technological advances have made remote working a feasible option for most office workers. Practically everyone has a PC, tablet or a smartphone and a home internet connection. However, being connected doesn’t necessarily mean that you are communicating well as an organization. Indeed there are scenarios where staff members that are located in the office still feel disconnected from their team and the wider organization.
The intranet includes a number of tools that will improve the lines of communication across the organization as well as remote workers. Keeping employees up to date with the latest company news and events is an important aspect. This is particularly so for the remote worker who won’t be able to catch up on the latest over the photocopier or when making a coffee. News feeds and blogs or intranet newsletters can disseminate the latest information across the business no matter where staff are located.
The cloud intranet is also a social intranet. Features such as user profiles and biographies, messaging, and individual activity walls encourage connectedness and a common sense of identity between staff members despite physical isolation. This will appeal to the innate social side in all of us.
A remote worker will require clear guidance on what’s expected from them. Remote working often falls down when the expectations set are too vague or where goals are poorly defined.
The office intranet can include reporting mechanisms and tools enabling the remote worker to report back to management on progress rather than doing so in an email. Also, the collaborative workspaces and project areas can be overseen by managers so that a watchful eye on work activity is maintained.
Promoting Company Culture
Giving the remote worker a sense of belonging to a wider company culture is a challenge. It can be hard for the remote worker to see where their individual contributions fit into the overall success of the company. Communication tools such as email, chat, phone and video conferencing will have a part to play in promoting company culture too. Intranet training programs and online induction will also help along with team culture exercises, blogs, wikis, collaboration tools, and surveys.
At the end of the day, culture is about shared values and goals and the intranet is a great mechanism to get staff members to sign up to the company culture.
Remote Working And MyHub
If you’re considering introducing remote working and are wondering how an intranet could help, then contact us at MyHub. We have a special interest in this as we operate with a small central office, and have people working from home in New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland and the US. For us, it’s not about hiring local and turning up to the office every day. It’s more about having the right people with the right skills set to get the job done regardless of physical location.