How to Successfully Implement a Remote Work Culture into your Business

"There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share." These words were spoken by the ex-CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, in 2007.

In the same way and just a few years ago, most people used to say: Remote work culture doesn't work, and if it does at all, it will be in a trendy Berlin start-up. But certainly not in German medium-sized businesses. The last year has shown that this prediction was completely wrong as well. And the trend continues in the direction of remote working. 

If you don't want to be compared to Steve Ballmer in the near future, you need to take a close look at the main principles of remote working. In this article, you'll learn how to efficiently introduce remote work into your business.

Three Reasons for the Urgency of Remote Working

If you don't want to miss the trend, there's no time to waste. These are the three main reasons why you should embrace this new way of working as soon as possible.

1. Paradigm shift: A few years ago, employers could attract new employees with a company car or a nice office. But now employees want freedom more than anything else. If you don't or can’t offer that, you'll have trouble recruiting and retaining competent employees. Remote working is one of the main factors that makes you attractive as an employer.

2. Space scarcity: Office space is expensive, especially in big cities. Why would you spend a lot of money on a fancy office in the center of Berlin, London or New York City, when you can hire many more employees with the same money? The prerequisite, of course, is that the employees don't need an office at all, but can work from home or wherever else.

3. Future viability: Market competition will determine the future - whether you like it or not. If you buck the trend and refuse to adapt and make your business remote-ready, you'll watch your business lose appeal and eventually relevance.

Three Errors in Reasoning

Mobile working is still uncharted territory for relatively many business owners, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the innovations it has brought to the workplace. It's no surprise, then, that many people still hold wrong ideas and perceptions about remote working. The three biggest errors in reasoning regarding remote working are the following. ‍

1. Home office during the COVID-19 pandemic is remote working: 

Who hasn't seen these images: employees simultaneously attending Zoom meetings and homeschooling their children; frustrating meetings with poor internet connectivity; home office workspaces that look like a kindergarten. 

Home office during the COVID-19 pandemic is in no way to be confused with the ideal of remote working. After all, all of these images were only created because it was a time of crisis, when adequate preparations were impossible.

‍2. Remote working and home office are the same thing:‍

Speaking of home office, there is a big difference between home office and remote working. Home office refers to working at a specific location: one's own home. Remote or mobile working, however, does not just describe a location, but a very specific way of working. 

The entire company and all processes must be structured in such a way that remote working is possible. One important aspect, for example, is internal company communication.

In addition, when it comes to remote working, it doesn't matter where employees are - whether in their own living room or on a Thai beach.

3. Being able to continue remote working as in the COVID-19 crisis:

What worked last year will continue to work. Or at least that is what many entrepreneurs wrongly think. But the truth is different. In 2020, most companies worked remotely for the first time ever. However, serious mistakes have crept in due to the short-term nature and resulting unplannability. 

For example, in many companies there are employees who see exactly the challenges and difficulties of remote working. But they do not communicate these difficulties to their managers, fearing that they would end the "home office experiment". Such an attitude is not sustainable in the long term.

How to Prepare your Company for Remote or Hybrid Working

A hybrid work model combines the benefits of traditional and remote work: your employees have more freedom, but still see each other regularly in the office.

Implementing a remote culture in your organization is a process that requires extreme caution. You need to be strategically smart and deliberate. If you break the process down into three separate steps, it will look like this: 

1. Set guidelines: During this strategy phase, you decide how many remote days and how many face-to-face days there will be. Generally, the minimum number of remote days per week is two.

2. Announce guidelines to employees: The key here is to make the implicit explicit. Every employee must know exactly how to behave in a particular situation. Checklists and video courses help.

3. Regular reviews: Managers work with employees to analyze what works and where there is room for improvement. In this way, processes can be continuously improved.

Two Secrets of Remote Working

Asynchrony: Constant accessibility is one of the most important factors for burnout and frustration. And it may sound counterintuitive, but it also leads to loss of efficiency. So the magic word is asynchrony. Time-shifted communication stops precious time from being wasted, for example by waiting for responses. Instead, in ensures that information is available at all times.‍

Automation: This term has become a buzzword in recent years. And rightly so. Automating as many work steps as possible saves time and money and has become a basic requirement for a successful company - whether remote or not.

What do these two points actually look like in day-to-day business practice? For example, running daily live meetings with all your employees costs a lot of time and therefore money.

Instead, introduce automated and asynchronous meetings in the form of standups. This involves using a chatbot (on Slack, for example, Geekbot) that automatically asks your employees the following questions:

1. What did you accomplish yesterday?

2. What do you want to accomplish today?

3. Are you having any difficulties in doing so?

Your employees answer these questions as soon as they find the time. This way, you or your team leaders always know who is busy with which tasks and where there are difficulties . There will be no more wasting of time due to lengthy and inefficient video conferences or meetings in the office.

Conclusion

Now you know why remote working is the future - and you also know what you have to do in order not to miss out on it. Eliminate mindset errors, make a decision and implement this new way of working in the most efficient and beneficial way for everybody. Always keep the two aspects of asynchrony and automation in mind. In this way, you will successfully prepare yourself, your employees and your company for remote working.

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