Many traditional office environments are transitioning to remote work as more businesses see the value in global recruitment, cloud offices, and resource savings.
With Twitter, Google, Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook announcing their global plans for increasing remote working flexibility for employees, is it time you thought about how to transition to a remote workforce too?
The global trend of transitioning to remote work
While some jobs simply cannot be done from home, a surprisingly large number of them can. And after the jump-start the pandemic gave to remote working, many industries and businesses worldwide have experienced its advantages.
International staffing helps companies battle the labour shortage by dissolving geographical, linguistic, and time-zone barriers within the recruitment process.
Data scientists at Ladders estimate that 25% of all work in North America will be done remotely by the end of 2022. Top global companies like Apple, Meta, Google, and Amazon are already championing remote work for their expanding workforce.
And in a huge move for worker rights in the Netherlands, the Dutch parliament is poised to make working from home a legal right for all employees.
Remote working isn’t a trend; it’s an idea whose time has come.
Benefits of transitioning to remote work
If you aren’t working out how to transition to a remote workforce, it might be time you did.
With billions of internet users spending increasing amounts of time in virtual space, e-shopping, streaming media, and other online services are booming. So it makes sense to inhabit the same digital space as your customers.
Moreover, besides meeting your audience online where they’re already spending time and money, consider this:
🔺Transitioning to remote work opens up exciting recruitment possibilities
Talented people are everywhere. Going remote gives you access to them. Imagine being able to hire high-quality candidates from every corner of the globe, highly motivated and ready to do their best work.
That’s much better than rooting around the slim pickings in your local talent pool.
🔺There’s a ton of savings you’ll make from hosting a cloud office.
Expensive rentals and resources heavily increase annual business costs, but you can amass significant savings when you go remote. For example, Flexjobs estimates US companies saved $30 billion daily when employees worked remotely through the pandemic.
🔺Remote teams are the best environments for an inclusive workforce.
According to Meta’s annual diversity report, remote work encourages talent to flourish by allowing minorities to focus on doing their job without discrimination at work.
Before transitioning to remote work
Upwork predicts that 73% of all work departments will have remote workers by 2028. However, while the push to go remote is global, you need to consider plenty of things before you do.
Restructuring old office practices when transitioning to remote work environments is a must. Because unfortunately, you can’t use old rules on a new approach.
Draft new remote policies that help employees work out of their home office healthily and productively, and let go of traditional workflows or outdated management from the very start of leading a remote team.
Consider these factors when you’re planning how to transition to a remote workforce:
Redefine progress, accountability, and success
Remote working is probably a whole new ballgame for you and your employees. So why not approach it with a fresh perspective? New methods call for new management.
🔎 Discard old supervisory habits and trust remote employees to do their jobs.
Don’t enforce time tracking or traditional office hours unnecessarily. Instead, let your remote workforce schedule their work hours as much as possible.
Since you’re doing away with the conventional 9 to 5 anyway, a rigid approach may not work to the best of everyone’s ability.
Your business is work getting done, not how.
📈 Re-evaluate how you’ll measure your company’s progress and success metrics.
Factor in employee happiness, job satisfaction, creative input, and the new directions in which your company and remote workforce can grow.
Don’t be afraid of redefining what growth means to you.
Workflow and monetary changes
Decide how remote flexibility will change your team’s workday. Also, figure out what effect transitioning to remote work might have on employee compensation packages and benefits.
🙌🏼 Be supportive and empathetic to your remote team’s new challenges.
For instance, is it fair to slash salaries if you expect your employees to use their homes and personal resources to work?
Instead, consider adding rewards and stipends to help them cope with digital fatigue, home office set-ups, and other remote stressors.
🌼 Consider supporting a healthier work-life balance for your employees.
Most businesses expect employees to put in a solid 40 hours per week, but modern companies have begun to offer a 4-day workweek after reviewing productivity and employee happiness.
Review what changes you’d like to make in work hours, salaries, compensations, and work flexibility under your new remote lens.
Remote team collaboration
In a brick-and-mortar office, team building occurs naturally through everyday interactions. But in a virtual office, sustaining healthy remote team collaboration has to be more deliberate.
💪🏼 Support team-building activities and strengthen company culture daily.
Project management software like Microsoft Office and Google Drive is perfect for data coordination and access. But your remote team will need additional collaborative tools as well.
Handy tools like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other apps can help bridge the communication gap. But simply having tools isn’t enough.
Besides regular team meetings, ensure you encourage virtual teams to schedule casual video chats and create team building opportunities over real-time check-ins and video calls.
🧑🏻💻 Remember, WFH team members aren’t sharing a physical workspace.
Without healthy collaboration and bonding, there’s a real threat your remote workers might end up feeling alienated, lonely, and cut off from their colleagues and your business.
A ‘happy hours Friday’ over video conferencing should already be a remote team thing.
Take stock of the legal stuff and all the paperwork you’ll need to have drawn up watertight before transitioning to remote work.
📃 You might want to work with a third-party payment provider or payrolling agency.
Are you planning on expanding your team with international hires? First, make sure you have clear contracts in place that are legally compliant with individual labour laws as per each employee’s country of origin.
Bring in experts if you don’t have the capacity to draw up international employment contracts or make regulated foreign currency payments.
Finally, a cloud office comes with the need for greater data security.
With all your company data accessible online, you’ll need to secure how and where employees can access it.
💻 Make sure all the proper data security protocols are in place.
Consider enabling remote desktop systems, strong access authentication protocols, and providing your teams with cyber security training.
Every remote worker must be clear on the procedures to maintain data confidentiality and be well-versed in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) measures.
The remote team toolkit
A smoothly functioning remote team will run like a well-oiled machine, provided you keep a few things in mind.
✅ Create a strong company culture and maintain it through collaborative tools and empathetic management. It’s crucial that your remote employees feel connected and supported at all times.
✅ Share regular company updates in public. Virtual notice boards help everyone feel included in celebrating important milestones, new developments, and company growth.
✅ Break down organisational silos and enable inter-departmental transparency using tools (e.g. Slack) to help teams work with each other across specialisations.
✅ Take active steps to boost career development at all employee levels. For example, in the absence of real-world mentoring, encourage e-learning, regular online training and evaluations, and upskilling your existing talent.
✅ Measure progress without over-supervision or doubts. Make sure you’re setting healthy growth goals and success metrics. Don’t overburden your team with unrealistic expectations out of fear they’re shirking off work at home.
✅ And finally, DO A TEST RUN FIRST. Ask people what they need, draw up clear remote working guidelines, and create FAQs for everything from travel leaves to video etiquette. Then, test it all out so you’ll know what to tweak when you go remote full-time.
How you can help employees overcome common remote work challenges
The biggest hurdle in transitioning to remote work is your employees’ challenges working from home. But the good news is they have simple solutions. All it takes is a little bit of digital adaptation and a page from the handbook of ‘Let’s Make This Work, Together.’
➡️ A key challenge for remote workers is the absence of face-to-face supervision from upper management and mentors.
To overcome such a challenge, factor in daily check-ins and one-on-ones with employees.
Keep these casual but work-focused so remote team members have clear guidelines on what they’re doing and don’t feel like they’re working in a void.
➡️ Like physical teams, remote ones need to collaborate so everything runs like clockwork.
How do you achieve that with employees in different countries, work shifts, and time zones? Take a digital approach. Familiarise team members with handy tools and communication methods like Slack, Asana, and Zoom.
Schedule daily meetings, video chats, and virtual team events, so all telecommuting employees are on the same page at work.
➡️ Combat feelings of loneliness and social isolation amongst remote workers.
All human beings need in-person interaction for their mental health and wellbeing. To promote this, plan remote social events and virtual interaction opportunities for your team to meet and bond regularly.
Depending on your company size and capacity, you can even organise monthly or yearly real-world events for the whole team.
➡️ Understand that WFH workers will face distractions and stressors when working remotely.
The best way to support your remote employees is to extend emotional support, encouragement, and physical help as required.
Allow flexible time schedules and exceptions for home interruptions. Help people with hardware, software, and even office furniture. Act on the concerns they raise regarding their mental, physical, or emotional health.
Always be sensitive to the fact that even when your team is working remotely, these are real people with real human needs for personal contact and social affirmation.
Healthy support and encouragement go a long way in helping remote work flourish: be it colleagues, management, or companies.
How transitioning to remote work benefits customer service
In customer service, going remote isn’t a dream of the future but a necessity of the present. Many bestselling books on customer experience (CX) today include going remote as part of what it takes to provide great CX. The traditional call centre might well become a thing of the past in the era of the digital native.
Let’s look at the amazing benefits you unlock with remote customer service:
Access to top talent
If you’re tired of hearing about the ‘war for talent’, going remote will help you drop it from your business vocabulary.
Virtual support enables virtual hiring. It lets you access the whole world as a talent marketplace, so you never have to compete or suffer the woes of labour shortage again.
Your qualified service professional needs can now be met—quickly and easily—by bright, educated, and motivated individuals from around the globe who are actively looking to work for you.
A cloud office lets you save on heavy annual expenses like real estate, power, and hardware, amongst others. In a recent study by PWC, the net benefit of just one day of remote work a week in the Netherlands added up to EUR 3.9 billion in annual savings.
And, remote work boosts profitability. A recent Stanford study found the work-from-home (WFH) model increased employee productivity by 13% in the absence of office distractions.
Quick hiring and scaling
Working with an in-house staffing provider for remote global talent (like our platform) makes recruitment painless, quick, and easy.
You can access vetted, qualified, and ready-to-hire customer support professionals without worrying about payrolling, contracts, and other admin headaches. Scaling up for seasonal service spikes is a breeze too.
24/7 support across time zones
Hiring remotely also lets you offer instant, 24/7 support to customers.
With agents hired across different shifts, days, and time zones, you don’t need to observe traditional 9-5 working business hours or close for holidays or weekends.
Your service can run smoothly every hour of the day, week, and year to support your customer base.
Expert native-level support
One of the most significant advantages of remote customer service is the ease of recruiting language specialists to converse with customers fluently in their spoken language.
Offering support in people’s native languages dramatically increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of customers are happy to purchase again from companies that support them in their mother tongue.
How to transition to a remote workforce
At Global Upside, CEO Ragu Bhargava says companies who see remote work as a temporary or unconventional solution are at high risk of losing staff and lagging behind competitors as modern businesses will evolve beyond them.
No doubt, there are challenges to remote work. But for every challenge, solutions exist. All you need is to be adaptable and committed to making remote working work – not just for you, but for your employees, stakeholders, and your customers.