Before 2020, it was most common for people to go into the office and work with their entire team — or most of their entire team — in one place. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic happened, it became necessary for most offices to close to prevent the spread of infection. Instead, workplaces shifted to remote business models where they could, allowing their teams to work from home.
Now in 2023, most people have adjusted to returning to the outside world, although it’s more of a “new normal” than “back to before.” Most offices are open for business again, but some have found that they preferred the remote work model and are looking for ways to make it sustainable. Let’s discuss how this can work not just in an emergency situation but in the long run.
Pros and Cons of Remote Work
For some, the idea of working from home in their pajamas sounds ideal. Others need that social interaction or struggle with focusing on work when their pets or children beg for attention. There are certainly some benefits and challenges to remote work. Let’s start with the benefits:
- No more commute stress
- More affordable for employees who take public transportation
- Stronger sense of independence and freedom, boosting morale
- More accessible for employees with mobility issues
- More flexible work schedule
- Studies have shown that it boosts productivity
These may be some of the reasons why you want to make remote work a permanent change. However, you may have also run into a few of these issues:
- Isolation and lack of community
- Reduced motivation
- Difficulty monitoring performance
- Security concerns
- More distractions
If you want to make remote work sustainable in the long run, it’s time to really address these issues and ways to improve them in the long term.
How To Make Remote Work Last
Let’s break down some of the issues that will help you make remote work last as a permanent solution that suits everyone on your team.
#1 – Utilize Strong Communication Channels
Employees love the freedom of being able to work from home, but not necessarily the lack of community. Make sure you utilize a software that allows for strong communication — whether it’s something like Slack for workplace chats and even off-topic chats, or whether it’s a cloud workflow platform that allows you to collaborate with each other in real time.
At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone talked about the Zoom meetings that they had to attend for work with some frustration. Technical difficulties can easily highlight the isolation of remote work. On the other hand, it may be important to hold regular meetings face-to-face. Consider having certain days where the team meets in person, working remotely on all other days, if you can’t find a video conferencing software that works for you.
#2 – Set Clear Expectations
In some cases, moving from the office to remote work has allowed people to set their own work schedule. For instance, they might prefer to go out during the day and work during the evening. However, you still have deadlines and expectations from customers or executives. This is why you need to continue to set clear expectations of what needs to be done and when.
You may find that for you, everyone still needs to work at the same time. If you go with a more flexible schedule, make sure there are clear deadlines and reminders that go out so that those deadlines aren’t missed.
#3 – Set Boundaries
These next two are for individuals working from home, rather than managers organizing a remote work business model. It’s important when working from home to set boundaries with your family and with your work. Otherwise, your work-life balance could take a nosedive. It’s important to have both work time and personal time and for those two to be separate.
When you’re working, you need to be able to have a designated working space and ensure that your family, roommates, or pets know not to disturb you. When you’re not working, however, don’t respond to work emails or calls from work trying to reel you back in. If they wouldn’t ask you to come back in as an office worker, they shouldn’t ask you to sacrifice your personal time as a remote worker.
#4 – Get Dressed For Video Calls At Least
Despite popular belief, studies have shown that working in your pajamas actually does not lower your productivity. Many people prefer to get dressed, make themselves breakfast and a cup of coffee before getting to work, just to establish the routine and feel refreshed for the day. But others might be just as productive working in their pajamas. The only problem is video calls.
When you are on a video conference for work or for an interview, you should still give some show of professionalism. You may not need the full face of make-up, high heels, and an uncomfortable outfit. But at least make sure you look presentable in your meetings — if you don’t adhere to your old dress code, try to only take one or two octaves down.