Working Remote, That Works
We have all been working remotely now for two months, congratulations you're officially in the groove. There are many predictions for what the business world will look like on the other side of the current shelter in place orders. The biggest is what will come of the “work from home experiment” we have all now lived through. The interesting shift will rebound off the currently relaxed rules of engagement because of the pandemic. Currently, suit-wearing leaders are embracing baseball hats, the expectations for parents are relaxed when balancing educational needs, and all people and animals in the household are considered co-workers. These shifts are and should be more acceptable during this time than in the standard business setting.
But when the kids are back at school, and most people are back in an office setting, what should working remotely look like then?
As an experienced businesswoman and single mom of a toddler, who has worked for a remote-based company, I see both sides of this situation. There are benefits to both the company and the employee. And, even if companies cannot embrace it for all employees all the time, I hope that with the right guidance they are able to embrace it for key life moments, such as when you are a new parent, caregiver or patient. I hope companies embrace the opportunity for remote work where it will address a greater need for work-life integration.
To make this successful transition, companies need to consider what their guidance will be, and should consider the following:
Set Expectations: Companies that have successful employees who are able to work remotely are best served by a foundation that sets expectations for everyone.
Since you are working at home for a reason, what accommodations do you need?
What key meetings should the employee plan to attend in person? Our recommendation, if possible, is Town Hall/Large Team Meetings and Annual Review/Goal Setting with their managers.
How should employees expect to engage with the office culture while remotely?
What defines remote workspaces; home-only, coffee shops?
How can employees ensure a good work-life balance, as working remote often leads to more hours or a consultant mindset?
What should work from home attire look like?
What does it mean when you do need time off for a sick day, vacation day or childcare day?
Support: When I started working for a remote-based company, I had just finished maternity leave. My manager and I set expectations that I would not rock the stroller with my foot while on conference calls, but that I would have full-time support. This allowed me to focus on my work, and yet be able to reap the enormous benefit of peace of mind and being there for milestones like first colds and first steps. Wouldn’t it be incredible if companies who couldn’t offer longer parental leave, could offer a hybrid solution to ease the anxiety of new parents?
Space: When you work from home, you no longer have to covet the corner office, you can create it. You can have a window office, the “breakroom” with your favorite foods and shelves with your most inspiring personal pieces. It is best to consider all of your needs, to be efficient and productive. Set yourself up for success with a printer/scanner, monitor, external camera, earbuds and a space to put your work aside at the end of the day.
There are many benefits that companies offer to help employees achieve work-life integration and navigate personal obstacles and milestones. The advent of a culture that can embrace remote work on a short-term basis for those in need, would be an added opportunity to support employees.
I am forever grateful to be closer to home, to snuggle on my lunch break and take a walk with my son at the end of the day instead of fighting commuter traffic to barely make it home to bedtime. Even if companies can not sustain a full-time, all remote employee base, allowing for more flexibility will surely benefit all in the end.