If 2020 taught us anything, it was how to manage a remote job at home with screaming children. Well, for some of us anyway. Between making sense of the pandemic and office buildings closing for safety reasons, everyone felt lost. Now we are at a phase where more offices are opening up across the country. Many businesses have remote workers around the country and including them is a bit of a challenge. Whether you are hiring new telecommuting employees or have some well-established, this list can help you navigate our new normal.
Are You Obligated To Provide Office Furniture For Their Home Office?
There has been a lot of talk about what an employer is responsible for their employees. However, for those that work remotely, you may find yourself providing your own supplies. That is because no federal mandates are requiring an employer to provide any tools or materials for telecommuting. However, we learned that California does require all employers to provide necessities for those working remotely.
Plenty of businesses support their remote staff, but it’s up to them on what they offer. Some choose to offer a stipend. However, they may still determine what can be used for the stipend, often for computers and other digital devices. Others will offer enough for a new office chair and a desk, which is great if you work at the kitchen table.
Most companies have the Bring Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Technology policy for team members at home. This is a cost-effective method to avoid buying more technology than in the budget for a company.
A growing number of businesses are now providing a computer or laptop to those at home. This ensures that the employee has a properly functioning device that can keep up with video conferencing and software demands to achieve their daily tasks. Your graphic designer won’t be very successful if they are working on a computer with low RAM.
A few companies are now offering “fully loaded” positions. They will provide everything you could need to do your job well. This includes all hardware, software, desk (or standing desk), printers, office chair, and basic supplies. These companies use these benefits as a selling point to work with them.
You Should Provide These Tools
Sometimes in life, we are faced with things that we don’t have to do but should do. While providing a new desk and chair sounds fabulous, it’s not viable for some companies. There are other ways to support your remote workers by providing these tools:
- home office setup
- software for timekeeping and document management
- software for project management
- video conferencing app
- office supplies
- the ability to request new equipment (i.e., webcam for meetings, computers, desk)
Home office setup is a bit tricky as it depends on where they are. However, having someone come in and help them organize a space as a “home office” is fantastic. Especially if your company moves to more remote work after the pandemic. A designer works with your employee to create a perfect space for video conferencing and completing all tasks. They help with choosing a desk and ergonomic chair so they can make their area comfortable and efficient. They can also assist with any tech setup necessary.
The important thing is that by providing home office essentials, you let your remote workers know how important they are to the team.
Keep In Touch With Remote Employees With A Variety Of Communication Tools
Communication is everything for a functional team, including remote workers. Having a variety of tools at hand to stay in touch is the best way to handle discussions. Fortunately, we live in a time where office technology and the internet provide us with many ways to maintain contact.
When it comes to video conferencing, Zoom saw a massive increase in use. In 2020, their participation rate increased by 2900%! Part of the draw to Zoom is it allows for any size group to meet and has functions like a chat window and screen sharing. Using video chat options like Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype Now does a lot for morale. Seeing your co-workers helps you feel included and allows everyone a chance to get to know each other.
For quick chats to clarify issues or fun office activities, instant messaging is a perfect way to communicate. Options include Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Fleep. Slack comes highly recommended because it integrates well with other apps, offers video chat and phone calls. Channels can be created for different teams and projects to keep the chat tidy.
The old ways are sometimes the easiest ways to communicate. Before leaving the desk for the day, a quick email is just as effective for discussions that can continue later. You have everything archived in the discussion to minimize confusion. Phone calls and teleconferencing is still used for those times where the video isn’t necessary.
Find New Team Building Activities
Now that you have your remote team set up with a great home office, now it’s time to talk about team building. Before 2020, team building was often done offsite to allow employees to learn more and create solidarity. However, with the challenges that coronavirus has brought, team-building exercises have to be creative.
Activities that can be done by those who work from home and those in the office do exist. Consider things like typing speed challenges and contests. War of Wizards is an organization that helps you create the exercises for a collective effort online. Even something as simple as a Slack Channel for pet pics can really build your team up. There are so many options available that there is surely something for your team.
Encourage Frequent Check-Ins
Weekly team meetings, meetings with clients and other teams can really get in the way of making sure your remote worker is handling distance work well. Their work environment is different when they are in their own home. Many remote workers are in the kitchen or a small corner of the living room. Not having office space with desks and office chairs can be confusing. The distractions throughout the day are inherently different as well. Frequent check-ins are an important part of remote work to ensure everyone is using their valuable time well. And it’s not always about the work itself.
Of course, check-ins should include discussion on status updates for projects and tasks. Create a task for people to discuss what they have completed and what they will do that day. SMART goals are a perfect way to keep your team engaged and managing different tasks well. Including health goals to combat weight gain and back pain, common issues for the remote worker, are a perfect addition.
Check-ins are necessary for checking in with employees who may be experiencing roadblocks to solving an issue or completing a task. Sometimes the worker needs to vocalize the problem to make it easier to solve it. Giving them help lets them know they are seen, heard, and valued.
One of the most important aspects of remote work is maintaining a healthy work/life balance. We have been hearing about this thing for years, but it is often related to a job you left the house to perform. Remote work comes with different issues.
You may want to ask them how they handle their remote job and family who are present during the workday. Are they a parent who have children in virtual school? They may need some advice on how to juggle helping the child and completing their own work. Do they have a spouse or partner who is also working at home? That can create an issue of not having any “me” time or frustration at the small things their partner/spouse does. A remote worker who can express how they feel about their new environment is valuable. They will do better mentally and stay productive when it works for them.
Talking about creating a dedicated workspace and supporting their health is also important. Offer tips on how to prevent eye strain and exercises they can do to avoid aches and pains. Remember, the goal here is to help your remote workers feel appreciated, understood, cared about, and important.
Get Creative With Employee Activities
One of the best aspects of office work is the small activities that break up the business aspect of work. Birthdays, holidays, and work anniversaries are nice celebrations that employees can enjoy with their co-workers. Including remote employees requires some ingenuity and careful planning.
Birthdays and work anniversaries are important to a lot of people. You can include your remote workers by hosting a video lunch. For example, a cake can be in the office and cupcakes delivered to those working at home. Speaking of a video lunch, team lunches or lunch meetings can be handled in the same way. Thanks to DoorDash and Grubhub, food delivery is much easier for your telecommuters.
Cultural holidays and “National Day Of” are fun ways to have mini celebrations throughout the year. You can hold a contest for the most creative decorations in a workspace. A Slack channel can be devoted to recipe swaps or funniest memes relating to a special day. Some companies have even held video contests in the style of MTV’s Cribs television show for remote team members.
The Workforce Is Changing And So Are You
The workforce and workplace are changing. The need for office space is being challenged as people advocate for remote work in a post-pandemic world. Productivity rates have certainly supported the idea that work from home is viable for many companies. As a result, the need for a home office, office furniture, and resources is growing. Many offices are turning into shared office space to accommodate people who want to work remotely without relocating.
Whether you need good ergonomic chairs for your remote employees or standing desks for your office, we have you covered. Call our experts today and let us help you navigate the new workspace with ease.