What makes great remote working?

Luke Smith investigates how global business is navigating the transition from office to remote working

Remote work is on the rise around the world. Emerging technology allows folks to work from the comfort of their own home while attending virtual meetings and improved access to the web makes completing web-based tasks that much easier. 
The desire to work remotely should not come as a surprise. According to data collected by OWL labs, 16% of companies around the globe are now fully remote and the prevalence of remote work has risen by 159% since 2009. 
But navigating the transition from office to remote working is tricky. Fortunately, managers and business leaders across the globe are finding a way to make it happen. 
Technology and remote working
The IDC report found that despite sustained productivity during the pandemic, many businesses still had fears about working remotely full time. Technological challenges were chief among these concerns, as business leaders reported uncertainty about how operations would be conducted when the company switched to full-time remote working. 
However, those same business leaders also reported optimism about remote working technology. Emerging and established tech like cloud-based data storage and 5G connectivity fuelled this positive outlook, as advancements in software and hardware make it possible for remote workers to replicate the office in their own homes. 
But new tech does more than give employees access to data. Remote workers can take advantage of developments in virtual reality and the metaverse to simulate the office environment and attend meetings using avatars. This will help workers feel connected to their respective businesses’ cultures while avoiding costly commutes and health or safety risks. 
Employers can help remote workers avoid burnout by funding leisure activities that get them out of the house
Health and safety
Remote work was made necessary when the COVID-19 pandemic posed a global health risk to everyone. Vaccination rates vary greatly from country to country, meaning that business leaders have to take the right approach depending on transmission rates and vaccine uptake. 
However, even if a business chooses to go fully remote, leaders still should promote the health and safety of their employees. Remote workers are at particular risk of unexpected health concerns like hip misalignments, tennis elbow, and tension headaches. 
These health risks typically occur when remote workers spend long periods sitting without looking away from the screen. Sitting for hours at a time can quickly lead to poor posture that places strain on the body and exacerbates existing health conditions. 
Global business leaders can help navigate the shift from office to remote work by actively promoting the health and well-being of remote employees. Health and wellness initiatives can be funded using the cash no longer spent on office rentals or supplies. The scale of health and wellness programmes depends on the budget available to managers, but even small gestures can go a long way. 
Home office
A fully functional home office is essential for employees who are shifting to remote work. At the start of the pandemic, many employees made do by working in living rooms and on kitchen countertops. Today, a makeshift approach simply won’t cut it. 
A small home office should include basic furniture and equipment that mimics the office environment. Once employees have measured their space, managers can help them fill the area with home office work essentials like a small desk, an ergonomic chair, and a few compact storage units. It’s worth spending more on home office equipment at first, as a good quality setup can support productivity and employee wellness. 
A home office should also be personalised to each employee and help them feel relaxed. Choosing decor like rich brown or dark wooden desks helps employees feel in control of their space. Personal touches like rugs, throws, and plants can also go a long way to improving morale and strengthening company culture. 
Burnout and leisure time
Working remotely is meant to free up time and make it easier for employees to relax after a hard day’s work. However, many remote employees find it hard to switch off and may be tempted to check their emails or complete unpaid overtime. 
Avoiding workaholism should be a priority amongst employers. Workaholism can quickly lead to burnout and a massive drop in productivity. However, preventing workers from working overtime can be tricky – particularly if employees feel lonely or isolated. 
Employers can help remote workers avoid burnout by funding leisure activities that get them out of the house. Commonly funded leisure opportunities include: 
Yoga classes
Arts and crafts courses
Membership fees to join sports teams 
Time off for community events.
These activities do require extra spending on the part of the employer but are certain to pay dividends as remote employees will feel more motivated and productive during their working hours. 
Making the transition from the office to remote work requires careful planning. Fortunately, user-friendly cloud software makes it possible for employees to work collaboratively and host meetings from almost anywhere. Employers should also look after the health and well-being of their new remote workforce by encouraging leisure activities and funding ergonomic home offices. 
Luke Smith is a freelance writer

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