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How to Standardize Remote Work in the Era of WFH

By: Virginia Shram

6 mai 2022

employee working from home

Ever since the 2020 COVID pandemic, businesses have reported an increasing number of employees either working remotely or desiring the opportunity to work from home. Of course, this made sense to everyone due to the unknown complications of a widespread pandemic.

However, many business leaders had the impression that the desire to work remotely is singularly tied to health concerns; they have neglected the growing trend of remote work, a trend that has exploded in popularity not just since the pandemic, but since the prevalence of cloud computing software.

Whether or not you choose to adopt a WFH (work from home) or hybrid telecommuting model, it’s a good idea to consider the benefits that come with such a reframing.

Benefits of Testing Remote Work Models

Even though there are pros and cons alike to introducing telecommuting options, the overall benefits of remote work are numerous:

  • Decreased absenteeism because employees have the ability to rest or work from home when sick or exhausted, making more accessible ways to stay up with tasks while recovering

  • Increased trust between you and your employees when you offer the freedom and responsibility with working from home

  • Allows employees to advocate for own health and safety, making them feel more comfortable with explaining their needs and coming to a common goal

  • Flexibility in case of illness, because with a rotating staff in office, responsibilities are shared more broadly in case someone needs to fill in for someone else

  • Forces better communication between teams and departments because of the lack of physical proximity and water-cooler check-ins

  • Cost-saving on office rental space, which also includes electricity, accommodations, parking, food, and office supplies costs

  • Creating better approval channels for work projects, because there needs to be a clear, literal process for getting projects or requests approved by upper management, and a clearly-defined ticket system or program can streamline that process

  • Larger hiring pool with better talent because your team no longer needs to be in close physical contact, and can be working all over the globe from theoretically any country

  • It’s paradoxical, but employees have better productivity when working remotely, because they can control their own environments with less or more noise, comfort, and adaptations as needed that aren’t necessarily available in an office environment

  • Remote work is environmentally-friendly as it saves the gas spent on commuting to work and can help your company get closer to net-zero emissions standards

man works from home with his child

Basic Things to Consider for Standardized Remote Work

Regardless of what model of remote/office work you are developing, that are some common basic points to consider when it comes to customizing a standard for you and your team:

Flexibility

Consider the extent to which the final plan is flexible on a case by case basis depending on the employee and department. How much flexibility is allowed, and how does the team lead communicate changes in schedule? If it is common practice for employees to switch their remote schedules last minute, then that could interrupt planned in-person meetings, but if the remote schedule is too rigid, employees may find little to no benefit from the promised freedom brought by work from home.

Necessary Tools & Supplies

Research what equipment or supplies you will be willing to offer remote employees, from a work-issued laptop to a subsidy for a standing desk, for example. Also, Tech support is absolutely essential for employees in office and out of office. Make sure your IT team is accessible and reachable within working hours so that employees working remotely can troubleshoot problems easily.

Workflow

Think about how meetings will be conducted, and the frequency. Will your company use a single program like Zoom? Or will it use audio calls over Slack? These are good details to iron out so there’s no confusion when it comes down to getting work done.

Consider the effect of remote work based on workflow and client needs. For example, a customer service representative may work efficiently from home, whereas a sales representative may be required in the office for certain days in a week because of networking and conferences. Some job types are more eligible for remote work conditions than others, and that needs to be determined so that management doesn’t accidentally play favoritism.

Try standardizing mandatory weekly or biweekly check-ins with team members. Even if they only last fifteen minutes, you’ll be connecting one-on-one with your coworkers and you’d be surprised how many “small” issues come up that may turn out to be bigger issues later on.

Maintaining a Routine

How many existing standards can stay in place as they are? You want to optimize and standardize your organizational processes, but you also don’t want to completely change things up on a dime because that may be too much change for workers to handle on their own. Consider preserving the comfort and use of your programs for employees’ ease in transitioning to a new work model.

Keep an eye on your employees’ updated workloads to make sure they are getting the collaboration they need and aren’t excessively using overtime because they will burn themselves out.

woman works from home with her dog

Classic (Outdated) Standardization Policy for Work From Home

The classic hybrid/office-heavy WFH model is extremely restrictive, and employees find it difficult to adopt easily due to the intense amount of monitoring it usually has. The classic, outdated model looks like this:

  • Little flexibility with hours and mandatory availability 9-5
  • Monitored screen usage time feels like invasion of privacy
  • Excessive productivity requirements stifle imaginative solutions and increase stress

Why Outdated WFH Models Don't Work

The outdated hybrid WFH model just isn’t conducive to the modern working environment we live in today. It’s not because employees are trying to get out of work, it’s that the lack of flexibility for work habits feels limiting in these ways:

  1. Undermines trust in your employees to manage their own time and projects
  2. Increases administrative workload with little payoff of freedom
  3. Isolating for those who WFH because the “culture” is still very much rooted in the physical office
  4. Feels punitive at times when WFH is still available, but heavily discouraged
  5. Usually management doesn’t fundamentally update requests or project procedures, so erodes communication between employees

New & Improved Standardization Model Through Software Applications

The new and improved remote work model has a secret that is stupidly easy: WFH builds off of the cloud-based software protocols that the company currently uses. In other words, creating a remote work system may not require an entire revamp of your operations, it may just require one or two software upgrades to allow broader off-site access. An example of one of these solutions is VKS’ work instructions software, which hosts standardized, digital work instructions in its basic package, but also has a more integrated Digital Ecosystem for companies wishing to further introduce IoT devices in-house and networking off-site.

Why SaaS Solutions Benefit WFH Models

It seems simple, but the new age of remote work is highly conducive to the digital age that we live in. It only makes sense to critically “go with the flow” in order to provide the best support for your employees and achieve the best results possible. Here’s why the new SaaS model works best for remote work:

  • Better security/privacy through licensed software options
  • More points of personal engagement: goal-setting, team-building, recognition, e-learning and networking invitations and opportunities
  • Building on previously established, secure infrastructure
  • Cloud-based data storage, accessible from anywhere
  • Little operative change between office work and remote work
  • Scalable and easily integrated with other platforms using APIs

Best Remote Work Tools & Applications

There’s an infinite number of tools and software programs available to help organize your company’s new hybrid or remote structure; here are a few of the very best:

  • Slack is great for a mega-channel instant messaging space;
  • Asana has perfected its niche of organization; Trello is also popular for those wanting a slightly more aesthetically pleasing layout;
  • Teams, Zoom, or Meet are popular visual video conferencing tools;
  • For manufacturing operations that require a combination of in-person equipment operators and off-site real-time analysis, VKS Pro is an example of a ERP/MES all-in-one, with APIs to custom-fill the gaps in your organization’s platform.
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