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Remote Working vs Returning to Office – Can Agile HR solve this?

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October 4, 2023

Three years after the pandemic started and thousands of companies are still trying to find a remote working model that they feel comfortable with.

💡 34% of employees say they feel pressure from their employer to come into the office more often.

Leaders have not been given the skills required to make remote working work and have relied on replicating what they did face to face.

Instead of well-structured and purposeful meetings, inefficient remote teams may have a surplus of meetings that waste time and disrupt productivity. These meetings often lack clear agendas or outcomes, and team members might feel overwhelmed by the constant need to attend them.

Trust is a cornerstone of effective remote work. Inefficient teams may show signs of mistrust, like micromanagement or a reluctance to delegate responsibilities. Team members might be sceptical of each other’s contributions, leading to reduced collaboration and productivity.

Poor communication can be a major issue in inefficient remote teams. This may manifest as frequent misunderstandings, missed messages or emails, and a lack of clarity in written or verbal communication. Miscommunication can lead to mistakes, delays, and frustration among team members.

What is lost when we work remotely?

In short: nothing of real importance.

Yes, there will always be organisations that are against remote working – which is a massive shame to see in the modern workplace.

But the data speaks for itself.

💡 78% of remote workers report an improved work-life balance.

💡 Two thirds of employees claim they are more productive when working at home.

💡 58% of employees say that working remotely gives them more autonomy.

💡 Remote workers report that cutting out their commute was the biggest benefit to their mental health.

The benefits of flexible or remote working are clear. And while the idea isn’t a new one, the technology is now available to make it much easier and cheaper to do it successfully.

And there’s more:

  1. Productivity – employees can better control their work environment, minimise distractions and have the flexibility to tailor their schedules to their peak productivity hours.
  1. Performance – it encourages autonomy and self-management, which can empower individuals to take more ownership of their tasks and responsibilities.
  1. Engagement – employees to feel more in control of their schedules and can result in higher job satisfaction, leading to improved engagement and commitment to their work and organisation.
  1. Retention – companies demonstrate their commitment to work-life balance, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and loyalty among their workforce.
  1. Diversity – can expand the talent pool, allowing companies to hire the best candidates regardless of their geographic location, which can lead to more diverse and skilled teams.

So, we stand to gain more than we lose when we work remotely – but only if leaders and teams are adapting effectively.

Remote working in your organisation

Working remotely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be meeting up in person every so often. We appreciate the impact of face to face purposeful interaction.

At People Efficient, we encourage our clients’ teams to meet face-to-face every couple of weeks or once a month. I’m interested in seeing how the Atlassian model of meeting up 4 times a year for one week at a time will work out.  Some projects/collaborations are best worked on in a shared space. This is where your leaders come in. 

Your leaders should know when an in-person work day is needed and which employees may need extra support as they work remotely.

There’s a common misconception that organisations who work remotely risk a lack of communication, decreased collaboration and are unable to work asynchronously.

That’s simply not true.

There have been amazing technological advancements in the last few years that allow teams to work just as efficiently remotely as they would in-office.

  1. Chat tools – Slack, Microsoft Teams
  2. Screen recording tools – Screencastify, Screenflow
  3. Project management – Trello, Kanban
  4. Collaboration tools – Google doc, Miro
  5. Scheduling tools – Calendly, Doodle

The real secret to remote working excellence

Using the Agile HR methodology and having a framework/rhythm that encompasses the following:

  1. Planning and agreeing what will be achieved in the forthcoming stretch of time (2 weeks is usual) – encouraging autonomy and accountability
  2. Daily updates where obstacles will be identified (15 minutes per day)- encouraging servant leadership
  3. Retrospectives where achievements are celebrated and improvements are identified – encouraging self-reflection and improvement
  4. Conflict resolution is agreed and adhered to – reducing toxicity and time-wasting
  5. Working ‘out loud’ – measuring progress and encouraging transparency

Implementing a remote working model requires time, planning, review, training and investment – but it pays off.

But you should bear in mind that you are redesigning one of the most basic levels of the company: how we work.

Agile HR is well-suited for handling uncertainties and changes, which are common in remote work environments. Teams can quickly adapt to new tools, processes, or market conditions, ensuring they remain effective and responsive.

With People Efficient’s new Agile in HR™ courses and Building Exceptional Remote Team courses you will perfect your ability to manage and lead, so that you can help your organisation adapt to a remote working structure which takes into account both the uniqueness of each employee, and the health of the business.