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Remote working is here to stay, so make it a win-win-Reading time: 5 Minutes
The COVID-19 lockdown forced international companies to switch gears overnight: remote working was suddenly the norm. In most cases, the transition happened smoother than expected and significant benefits have now become apparent. Therefore, it’s likely that remote working is here to stay. Are you planning to offer regular remote working to your international workforce? Don’t forget that this implies a set of written and unwritten rules. Here’s a basic checklist
A joint study by Cass Business School (London), IESE Business School (Barcelona) and SD Worx in six European countries showed that 57% of white-collar workers working during the lockdown period did so from home. More remarkably, for the vast majority (41%), this was the first time they had established a home office.
These numbers imply that, for many companies, remote working was a first-time experience. Initially, the focus was on the logistical aspect, as there was little time for a more comprehensive approach. However, if you plan to introduce regular remote working to your employees, it’s time to get your head down. Not sure what that means? Follow these 5 steps:
#1 Decide which roles make sense for remote working
Jobs that are relatively "siloed" and thus don't require significant cross-functional communication are prime candidates for remote work. Those could include sales agents, technical employees, marketeers, financial profiles and administrative aids. The key is to determine whether working on site all the time is truly necessary for them. If it’s not, how many days a week could you station each employee at their home office without efficiency losses? Make sure you apply the same set of standards for staff working in different countries.
#2 Draft a remote working policy for each country
In most countries a home-working policy is not only recommended, but also mandatory when your employees work from home on a regular basis. These are the main topics in such policies:
- health & safety
- confidentiality, accountability and data security
- supervision and (technical) support for the employee
- working times and compensation
- termination agreements
#3 Get your priorities straight
A possible pitfall of remote working is that your employees will feel less connected. Counter this by optimising your internal communication channels, establishing a continuous feedback culture and organising meetings and events that require physical presence. Moreover, a lot of team managers will have to make a mindset switch and follow training courses to become better (remote) coaches. For your HR department, this probably means more work in some areas, so outsource or automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
#4 Revise your compensation strategy
The upsurge of remote working is difficult to ignore, but the trend towards more time- and place-independent work is not new. It’s part of a world where work has become fluid. Employers should adapt their HR strategies accordingly. A telling example is reward and compensation. Which perks do you give to remote workers? Do you pay for utility expenses? Do you focus on output or working hours? First, check what national labour laws allow and then work out an attractive remuneration policy.
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#5 Enter the digital age
Virtual collaboration tools are the lifeblood of a successful remote working strategy, so invest in platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. Besides that, you’ll want to look for reliable self-service solutions to ease the burden on your HR team. For example, an innovative time registration tool could be a great asset for workforce management, while a Digital Assistant can serve as an employee’s right-hand man. Last but not least, follow up closely. You should periodically check if regular remote working delivers the wanted results. Payroll and HR analytics can help you with this, from understanding how specific regions and countries are performing to real-time strategic reporting.