Outcomes, Legal Obligations, Wellbeing, and Productivity when Remote Working

Remote working has become increasingly common as organizations recognize the advantages of operating outside of the traditional office-based roles in favor of more flexible options. Many employees highly value flexibility, and organizations are recognizing that collaborative technologies and inclusive culture can help retain employees and attract top talent. In this course, we look at why people are working remotely, the legal responsibility of employers to support remote employees, and the benefits it can bring to both the organization and the individual.

Outcomes, Legal Obligations, Wellbeing, and Productivity when Remote Working

What you’ll learn:

  • The positives outcomes that remote working can bring to businesses and their employees.
  • The obligations of employers to support remote working and ensure health and safety requirements are met.
  • How to maintain your wellbeing and productivity when working from home.

According to a recent study around 14.1 million employees are looking for more flexibility in their work, stating that they would choose a flexible working option over a pay rise. This is matched by over three-quarters of organizations embracing remote working, in recognition of the collaborative technologies and inclusive culture that can help retain employees and attract top talent.

In this article, we look at why people are working remotely, the legal responsibility of employers to support remote employees, and the benefits it can bring to both the organization and the individual.

Content Summary

Working Remotely
Freedom
Debunking Myths
Hiring a Remote Worker
The Legal Side
Regulations
The Set-Up
Communication & Collaboration
Calls
Collaboration Tools
The Culture
Case Study
Benefits for Employees
Benefits for Employers
Evaluation
Top tips to takeaway
Note

Working Remotely

The trend toward remote working has increased year on year as the way we work changes, moving away from traditional office-based roles to more flexible options and boosting both productivity and motivation as employees choose the style that works best for them.

What is remote working?

Flexible, or remote working, refers to working schedules that fall outside of the normal working pattern to suit the individual’s personal and professional needs, enabling them to work from anywhere, be it from home, from a local café, or while traveling the world.

Providing individuals with the freedom to work in the style which produces their best work, remote working can take many forms, including compressed hours, flextime, or annualized hours. For example, if you have young children, you might decide to start your working day early in order so you’re free when they get back from school.

Reasons for remote working

Organizations can benefit from increased productivity, reduced overheads, and higher levels of employee satisfaction, as individuals feel more engaged and empowered by the ability to create their own schedules. Remote working is also good for the environment, as a reduction in commuting is mirrored in a reduction in pollution levels.

In more significant cases, a dramatic shift in internal or external circumstances might cause entire teams or departments to begin working remotely to avoid a damaging disruption to business continuity. This could be caused by a national emergency like a pandemic, or the loss of an office location due to fire or flood.

Types of remote working

As a remote worker, you often have options as to how you use time and location to your advantage.

Some people might choose to work remotely for the entire working week, only occasionally visiting the office when it suits their needs or is required, while others may only work remotely for a couple of days a week, spending the rest of the time in the office location.

There are also circumstances whereby entire teams may either move to remote working or be conceived as virtual teams.

Your Remote Set-up

While working from home, employees should select a room that can be set up to relevant health and safety standards and which has a door that can be shut at the end of the day to create a physical barrier between work and home life.

Alternatively, subject to your company’s information security policies, you could choose to work from other offices, or shared co-working spaces that enable workers to combine the professional amenities of an office with the comfort of home working.

Freedom

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” – Richard Branson

Debunking Myths

Remote working continues to attract a fair amount of stigma due to the confusion around what it entails.

You Work All Day

A common misconception is an idea that remote workers are working 24/7. However, while it can be difficult to detach yourself from the ‘office’ when working from home, most remote workers set their own schedule maintaining similar hours to their office counterparts to prevent burnout.

Productivity Decreases

One perpetual myth is that remote workers spend all day watching Netflix instead of working. In most cases, remote workers are actually more productive than their office counterparts, with organizations noting a productivity increase of 13.5% as individuals knuckle down and get on with their tasks.

It’s Lonely

Remote working doesn’t have to be lonely, if you find working from home too isolating you could also move to your local coffee shop or library a couple of days a week or opt to use a coworking space to instigate some social interaction but without a significant commute or the level of distractions a traditional office environment provides.

Communication Is Poor

It’s also a myth that communication suffers when people opt to work remotely, in fact, the opposite can be true as people tend to be more on point with their messages, focused solely on the task meaning there’s less chance of wandering off on a tangent. Communication skills can also be boosted by setting clear ground rules detailing what channels are to be used for what and ensuring an overlap time is implemented so the entire team is available to discuss the project together.

Hiring a Remote Worker

Embracing remote working improves the recruitment process as organizations are no longer constrained by geographic location and can cast the net wide as they look for the individual who will be the ‘right fit for the business rather than ‘right’ for the location.

Think It Through

Remote working is not something you should just decide to do, instead, you should take the time to consider both your position within the organization and your working style before discussing the option of flexible work with your manager. If you believe that a virtual team is the right fit for your company, ensure you’ve prepared a well-researched argument to present to senior organizational figures. For example, factors like office space, local availability of the right talent, or limited immunity from business continuity disruptions could come into play.

Not For Everyone

As an organization, you need to recognize that as beneficial as remote working is, it’s not for everyone as some individuals are more productive under the clear structure provided by a centralized office location and require everyday face-to-face social interaction with colleagues. To test whether remote working is right for an employee, managers could agree to a trial period enabling both parties to experience the reality of flexible work.

It’s A Skill

For remote working to be effective, individuals will need to be self-motivated, independent, and disciplined as they have no one present to keep them on task while maintaining the balance between home and work life. They’ll also need to be strong communicators, proficient with a range of technology, and able to relay a message clearly and concisely.

Onboarding Remote Workers

When hiring a new remote worker, you must make them feel both welcomed and supported, by providing a ‘buddy’ to help them integrate with the team, explain processes and procedures, and to maintain regular contact to prevent feelings of isolation. During those first months, managers should engage in regular feedback sessions to help the employee develop in the role, reassuring them that their performance meets the required standard and providing support if there’s a problem.

In the UK, any employee who has worked for an organization for 26 continuous weeks has the right to ask for flexible working arrangements, regardless of their position in the industry. This should be achieved by writing a formal letter to the employer, known as a ‘statutory application’, which features both the business case for why they should be allowed to work remotely and the date they would intend to start.

However, all employers have the right to refuse a flexible working request providing they have a genuine business reason for doing so and must legally respond to the application within a reasonable timeframe, generally taken to mean within three months of receipt.

With this in mind, it’s recommended that all employees considering remote working arrangements are flexible in their intention, working with the employer to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement.

If the request is approved, the terms and conditions of the employee’s contract must be amended within 28 days, and if they work overseas, it’s the organization’s responsibility to ensure they are compliant with both UK employment law and the employment law of the country in which they work to avoid potential problems in the future.

Regulations

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, organizations are still responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees even when they have chosen to work remotely. This responsibility involves carrying out a risk assessment of the working environment and taking any necessary steps to reduce potential problems. However, employees also have a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety, implementing the recommended steps to protect both themselves and those who are affected by their employment including family, friends, and visitors.

Risk Assessment

Conduct a risk assessment of the employee’s selected workstation by considering the impact of working alone, the work environment, the equipment provided, and their mental wellbeing, identifying potential hazards, and making recommendations on how these risks can be managed.

As you need to consider the individual needs of each employee, it can help to visit the location in person or, if that’s not possible, ask them to provide a photo or a video of the working environment to ensure that your assessment meets health and safety requirements.

Working Alone

As most remote workers will be working solo, it’s important to consider this when establishing health and safety procedures, assessing the risk of accidents and illness.

This is particularly important when these individuals travel for work, which is why it’s recommended that you provide them with information on how to stay safe, implement a system for checking whereabouts ensuring all travel plans are recorded, and arranging a ‘work buddy’ who should be contacted at the end of the day to confirm the employee’s location.

Working Environment

The working environment should have enough space for the work to be carried out effectively and efficiently, including room for a desk, storage, and other required equipment such as printers. These areas should have good access, natural lighting, and ventilation which is why garages, cellars, and attics aren’t recommended.

Please note that if the employee is only working remotely part-time, then the assessment of their working environment should reflect this.

Work Equipment

The equipment used within the working environment should be suitable to the needs of the individual with a desk and adjustable chair required as standard to help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems. If the employee regularly uses a laptop, accessories like a mouse, keyboard, and laptop riser should be provided, especially if they lack such equipment was identified as a risk in the H&S assessment.

As standard, all electrical items will require regular inspections to check their safety, with some requiring additional testing by a qualified individual at the same time, although choosing low-voltage or double-insulated models can minimize this need. However, employers are only responsible for the equipment they provide and nothing more.

Mental Wellbeing

Under health and safety guidelines, employers are also encouraged to monitor an employee’s mental wellbeing recognizing the difficulty in adapting to remote work due to the limited social contact and lack of barriers between home and work life.

So, provide individuals with advice on how to create a barrier, such as selecting a room with a lockable door and installing a telephone line that can be switched to answerphone outside of office hours, and encourage them to self-identify the signs of mental stress while maintaining regular contact to stay in the loop.

Security & Monitoring

To help reduce the risks a remote worker faces, it’s a good idea to implement a monitoring process that regularly reviews risk assessments to ensure the situation is being adequately controlled.

As part of this, ensure that employees understand the procedures to follow when reporting work-related accidents, ill-health, or health and safety concerns. When a report is filed ensure that it is investigated quickly by the appropriate person, while managers take proactive steps to enquire about health and safety in remote working environments.

It’s also important to keep all work-based equipment and platforms secure – for example, through multi-factor authentication or logging in via a secure VPN. Your organization will discuss its requirements with you.

Insurance

Finally, both the employer and the employee should ensure that their insurance policies are updated to cover remote working. For the employer, this means amending its employer’s liability insurance, while an employee may need to update their home insurance to reflect that it’s also their place of work.

The Set-Up

With only 7% of employees saying they are at their most productive in the office, many workers believe that their homes are the best place for getting work done with many choosing to work remotely when presented with the option.

The Workstation

Regardless of whether you choose to work from home full time or part-time, you’ll need to create a workstation that’s designed to support your needs and is set up properly. This means choosing a room with enough space to fit an ergonomically designed chair that supports your back and can be positioned to ensure you’re at the right distance from your computer screen as required by the UK’s health and safety laws.

Should you find yourself working remotely at short notice, the most important thing is to establish a temporary workstation that allows you to maintain the correct posture and a free range of movement until you can arrange your workspace to fit the appropriate criteria.

The Schedule

Studies have revealed that most remote workers work longer hours than their office-based counterparts as they feel as though they’re always connected to the workplace. To combat this idea and create a clear boundary, set yourself a strict schedule, which fits around your daily needs, establishing a routine whereby you start work at a designated time and stop at a pre-determined time, just as you would if you went to an office. Although this schedule can be flexible, by adhering to it you can improve your work-life balance while clearly signposting your availability to colleagues and clients.

The Dress Code

Historically, when people think about working from home, they probably think about working in their pajamas or comfortable loungewear. This is certainly an option, but studies show that getting dressed for work in the morning and selecting professional attire can help you focus during your work hours and creates another boundary between home and work life.

The Distractions

Most people think that working from home is less distracting than working in an office, after all, there’s no one asking you if you want a coffee, wanting advice, or interrupting your workflow. However, remote work isn’t without its own set of distractions.

Why not put a sign up on the door with your working hours so that people know if you’re available or if you’re working, minimize your emails while you’re working on a task, and utilize apps that shut off social media sites between set times, so you’re not tempted to get distracted?

The Social Life

Working from home can be isolating, so why not build time into your schedule for in-person social interaction? This could be meeting up with your colleagues outside of work hours to get to know them better or simply meeting your friends for coffee one afternoon to get out of the house.

Or to build your ‘network’, why not research local events where you can meet up with others working in the same industry or location as you are? Make an effort to participate with the community and you’ll soon find yourself making new contacts who can offer assistance when you need it.

If you work as part of a virtual team, then regular video conferenced team meetings are essential to maintaining contact with your teammates at a distance.

The Holiday

The difficulties of disconnection can extend to holiday time as well as impacting on your home life. Therefore, no matter how tempting it is to bring your work with you, make sure you leave your laptop at home and switch on your out-of-office, so you have time to relax and recharge.

Communication & Collaboration

As a remote worker, one of your most important skills is your ability to communicate clearly and precisely with colleagues, understanding the different channels available to you, and agreeing upon a communication style in an attempt to minimize potential miscommunication.

Communication

Should you form part of a virtual team or work remotely on a solo basis, you’ll need to agree in advance with your manager and your colleagues the channels that you will use to communicate with one another.

Video conferencing should be managed via a secure company-approved platform, while chat-style software may be useful for more informal conversations.

Information

To avoid hindering the work of your colleagues, all information you retain should be made securely available via a sharable online platform or channel agreed by your employer and not kept privately on your own machine.

As part of this process, share your calendar or provide a regularly updated working schedule so that your line manager is aware of what you’re working on and when you’re available to be contacted.

Time

Ensure that you’ve factored in overlap time, a section of the day where the entire team is online and available to be contacted as this can help everyone get on the same page, asking and answering relevant questions, receiving feedback, or simply having a chat to catch up and strengthen their existing working relationship.

If your team is geographically diverse and you need to account for multiple time zones, try to maintain an overlap time where possible, rotating it if necessary so that certain team members aren’t always having to start early or stay late.

Calls

As a remote worker, it can be tempting to communicate via emails and instant messaging services. However, it’s a good idea to set aside time for conference calls as well, either via phone or video services, as this can recreate the face-to-face communication you would experience from an office environment, allowing stronger relationships to form.

If a call is dropped or you encounter technical difficulties, don’t panic. Simply wait to reconnect, or call the person straight back, apologizing and informing them of the last thing you heard and asking them to repeat what you’ve missed.

Collaboration Tools

Following advancements in technology, the number of collaboration tools available has dramatically increased enabling remote workers to leave traditional office set-ups behind and work in the space that’s most productive for them.

Choose The Right Tools

Remote workers need to choose the collaboration tools that work best for their intentions, whether that’s chat services, project management tools, or video conferencing software. Start by asking yourself what you’re looking to accomplish and how you like to work. Although you need to prepare to upgrade your equipment if required, this isn’t essential if it’s capable of running the software you need. However, if your internet connection is slow and unreliable, you’ll need to upgrade it as soon as possible.

Back It Up

As well as choosing the communication tools, you need to explore how you’ll protect transferred data and back up all important information from a remote location. Third-party cloud services like Dropbox, SharePoint, and Google Drive enable you to save documents in a location that is easily accessible, although they should be password protected. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides an encrypted means of accessing organizational documents and is recommended if your employer allows for such functionality.

Chat Services

Over the last few years, the use of one-on-one or group chat services like Slack, Teams, and WhatsApp have increased as they replicate real-time conversations between colleagues, improving decision-making and promoting open and honest discussions. These services have the added benefit of archiving your conversations, so you can search the database for previous information when required. They can also act as sharing services for exchanges of documentation. However, you will need to be sure that any third-party service you use is approved by your company’s information security protocols.

Video Conferencing

Face-to-face communication is a vital tenet of relationship building that can be missed by remote workers who don’t regularly visit the office. That’s why it’s important to invest in video conferencing software like Skype, Zoom, or Teams for both single calls and group meetings. During a meeting, it’s recommended that everyone accesses the conference via individual screens, even if the team only features a single remote worker as it means everyone has the same viewpoint.

Project Management Tools

Project management tools are also an important addition as they enable the team to keep track of their aims, goals, and achievements, with tasks assigned to individuals and monitored in a central location to enable the creation of the big picture. Programs like Asana, Toggl, and Trello facilitate this by creating to-do lists, assisting with time management, and providing insight into what everyone else is working on.

Group Editing

To remove the need for multiple versions of documentation, which can be confusing, invest in group editing software like Google Docs, Dropbox, and SharePoint so that editing can be tracked in real-time, with comments added as required and access restricted to assigned individuals.

The Culture

To support remote working organizations need to create a culture where the concept is accepted by all employees, recognizing the value it brings to both the business and the individual. After all, simply telling people that they can work remotely isn’t enough to guarantee success.

Demonstrate the Value

To help demonstrate the value of remote working why not arrange an organizational meeting where remote workers are invited to share their reasons for working flexibly and the benefits it has brought them, such as the ability to travel, spend time with their children, or even participating in speaking events. These meetings aim to promote the idea that remote work is both normal and positive.

Share the Experience

As well as arranging organizational meetings, encourage employees to understand how it feels to work remotely by inviting them to share the experience and work remotely for a time. Just a few days can give you an idea of what it’s like and improve your working relationships with existing remote workers.

Trust Each Other

For remote working to be successful, teams need to be able to trust each other to perform to the best of their ability as they keep their promises, meet agreed deadlines, and support colleagues in their endeavors.

Learn to respect the differences in each other’s working styles. That difference could be the key to your team’s success, rather than a problem to be overcome.

Reward Performance Not Presence

As an organization, you can support your remote workers by acknowledging valuable individual contributions during team meetings, thereby rewarding performance over presence and showing your employees and colleagues that you value the work they do.

Team Meet Ups

Where possible, foster team relationships by arranging to meet outside of working hours and away from the office, getting to know one another, and finding common ground in a social environment. For example, your team could organize a retreat where business can be discussed during the day, and socialization is encouraged in the evening.

Water Cooler Conversations

It can also help to recreate those so-called ‘water cooler conversations’ by dedicating a chat channel to non-work-related topics, enabling colleagues to get to know one another beyond their job titles.

Case Study

We’ve explored what it takes to set up a remote workstation, the challenges it presents, and the importance of selecting the right communication tools to ensure effective collaboration.

Coleman Travel

When the contract on their current office space in London came up for renewal, Coleman Travel decided that the overheads it was producing were too high and started looking for alternative locations. However, with retail and rent prices sky-high they realized that finding a traditional office environment was going to prove difficult, so to help cut costs the board decided to implement a remote working policy across the whole company.

Breaking the News

Breaking the news to their employees caused mixed reactions. Rami, the head of the sales team was excited by the news, while Rachel the head of acquisition expressed concerns as she was worried that the team atmosphere shared in the office and created through face-to-face contact would be lost when everyone started working from different locations.

Rachel’s Team

To help allay Rachel’s fears, the board encouraged every department to sit down and decide on ground rules for communication to find a solution that recognized their individual needs.

Rachel’s team decided to take advantage of the flexibility and set out a range of different schedules so Rachel decided to use the instant messaging service Slack, to recreate the spontaneous, real-time conversations that characterized the team’s dynamics, while encouraging the team to share and edit documents via email as she thought it would be the easier way to keep track of the different versions.

Rami’s Team

On the other hand, Rami’s team opted to schedule a clear overlap time when they would all be available, as well as implementing a project management tool to keep everyone focused and on track, recognizing they didn’t have anyone to monitor them daily. To avoid confusion about different versions they selected Google Docs for editing documents.

Review

A few weeks after Coleman Travel embarked on its remote working initiative, the board decided to review each department’s progress.

They found that Rami’s sales team was actually more productive while working remotely than they had been in the office, but that Rachel’s team was falling behind schedule as they struggled to connect and were becoming confused by multiple versions of the same document cluttering up their inboxes.

Case Study Question

So, why was Rami’s team successful, while Rachel’s struggled with remote working?

A. They set a clear overlap time
B. They used project management tools
C. They used Google Docs for editing
Correct Answer:
B. They used project management tools
C. They used Google Docs for editing
Answer Description:
Rami’s team was more productive because they set a clear overlap time meaning the entire team would be available at the same time to discuss their current projects, as well as implementing project management tools to keep them on track and utilizing Google Docs to remove the need for multiple versions of the same document. In contrast, Rachel didn’t take into account her team’s different schedules, so no one was available when needed, she had no means of monitoring their progress, and the use of email to share and edit documents only led to confusion.

Benefits for Employees

A mutually beneficial endeavor, remote working positively impacts both employers and employees.

Flexibility

The flexibility provided by remote working means that employees no longer have to endure long commutes to the office or work pre-set hours, such as the traditional 9-5 working day, and can instead pick the time and location that best suits their needs, enabling them to produce their best work and focus on what matters to them, whether that’s family, further education or something else.

Like the Work

Being able to work in the way that suits them, results in a higher level of job satisfaction for remote workers as they become increasingly passionate about the projects they’re working on. In fact, studies have found that remote workers are more motivated, feel empowered by the trust that’s been placed in them, and tend to be more productive than their office-based counterparts.

Saves Money

Working remotely also saves people money as they’re no longer paying for their commutes or overspending on lunches as working from home, or locally, means they can make cheaper lunches while leaving the car in the driveway. In fact, US studies revealed that remote workers save an estimated $5,240 simply by cutting back on the expenses traditionally associated with the workplace.

Improved Wellbeing

Remote workers also benefit from a boost to their overall wellbeing, as stress levels tend to be reduced by cutting out the frustrating commute and working in an environment in which they feel comfortable. They also find more time to exercise, eat healthier and get a better night’s sleep.

Remote working can improve an individual’s work-life balance as they have more time to spend with their families or to embark on passion projects.

Benefits for Employers

For employers, some of the benefits of remote working include access to the best candidates, increased productivity, and financial savings.

Engaged Employees

With remote working boosting job satisfaction levels, employees become increasingly engaged with the work they’re producing as they feel valued within their role and receive a boost in morale as they’re able to work in the environment which best suits their needs rather than the formalized office. This helps reduce the level of employee turnover within the organization, enabling it to retain talent, knowledge, and expertise.

Access To The Best Candidates

As well as retaining their current employee base, organizations that offer remote working opportunities can recruit the best talent from around the world as they’re no longer limited by the geographic location of their office (if they have one). Instead, they can simply hire the best person for the job based on their skills, ability, and enthusiasm rather than whether they can manage the commute.

Increased Productivity

Arguably one of the biggest benefits for employers is the increase in productivity brought about by remote working. This occurs as individuals are given the flexibility to choose their own working hours, meaning they’ll work when they’re at their best, rather than during the traditional work hours.

24-Hours Coverage

A bonus of a remote workforce who sets their own schedules is that organizations could be able to offer 24-hour coverage to their customers and clients, especially when their employees are based in different time zones around the world. However, employers have to be careful that people aren’t being overworked by setting clear working boundaries and creating pre-set handover times to cover the hours.

Financial Savings

As with employees, employers also benefit from financial savings as they can see their overheads decrease, particularly if they employ a fully remote team as they’ll no longer have to rent a designated office space, pay for electricity bills, purchase furniture, or even payout for simple things like the weekly coffee supply.

Evaluation

Question 1

What is remote working?

A. Working from an office separate from the organization’s headquarters
B. Choosing locations that lack basic amenities
C. Any schedule which enables people to work outside traditional office environments
Correct Answer:
C. Any schedule which enables people to work outside traditional office environments
Answer Description:
Remote working refers to any schedule which enables people to work outside of traditional office environments, either at home, at their local coffee shop, in a coworking space, or even while traveling the world.

Question 2

Remote working isn’t for everyone – so what skills do you need to be successful?

A. Self-motivation
B. Discipline
C. Strong communication skills

Correct Answer:
A. Self-motivation
B. Discipline
C. Strong communication skills
Answer Description:
To be a successful remote worker you’ll need to be self-motivated, disciplined and a strong communicator as there’s no one to keep you on track and the majority of your interactions will take place online.

Question 3

Who is responsible for the health and safety of remote workers?

A. The Organisation
B. The Employee
C. Both
Correct Answer:
C. Both
Answer Description:
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, organizations are still responsible for ensuring the health and safety of remote workers by carrying out a risk assessment, while employees are responsible for implementing the recommended steps to protect both themselves and those who are affected by their employment including family, friends, and visitors.

Question

Build a ________ culture which embraces different working styles and ______ everyone to do their job, remembering to recognize __________ achievement and organizing regular team get-togethers so employees can get to know each other in person.

Correct Answer:
Supportive, trust, and individual.
Answer Description:
Build a supportive culture that embraces different working styles and trust everyone to do their job, remembering to recognize individual achievement, and organizing regular team get-togethers so employees can get to know each other in person.

Question5

How can a remote worker create boundaries to maintain a positive work-life balance?

A. Create a schedule
B. Lock the door
C. Get dressed
D. Switch on the answerphone
Correct Answer:
A. Create a schedule
B. Lock the door
C. Get dressed
Answer Description:
To help maintain a positive work-life balance a remote worker can create boundaries by implementing a clear schedule detailing pre-set working hours, by getting dressed for work in professional attire to help with focus, by selecting an office with a lockable door so you can ‘leave’ work at the end of the day and by switching on an answerphone so you’re not disturbed outside of office hours.

Top tips to takeaway

  • Create a designated workspace that supports your needs.
  • Set a working schedule and establish a routine.
  • Maintain a positive work-life balance.

Note

The way we work is changing… as over 4 million people in the UK work remotely… while 58% of employees want increased flexibility… believing it would improve their motivation.

But what is remote working?

Well… remote working is designed to suit individual needs as it refers to any schedule which enables people to work outside of traditional office environments… either at home, at their local coffee shop, in a co-working space, or even while traveling the world!

So, why do people choose to work remotely?

For many, the flexibility remote working provides is the main attraction as it enables them to fit work around their lifestyle… for example, starting earlier to spend time with their children after school… or having more time to exercise which helps improve their overall wellbeing.

In fact, the choice of working hours leads to increased productivity as individuals can work at the times when they’re most effective… while studies show that they put in more effort when working from home.

Feeling empowered, remote workers tend to be more engaged with their job… which benefits employers as they’re able to retain experience… as well as attracting new talent by expanding their search for the ‘right’ candidate beyond the local area.

However, remote working isn’t for everyone… to be successful you’ll need to be self-motivated, disciplined and a strong communicator… as there’s no one to keep you on track and the majority of your interactions will take place online.

So, how do you start working remotely?

Well, as long as you’ve worked for your employer for over 26 weeks, you’re entitled to request remote work… although your employer can refuse if they have legitimate business grounds for doing so…

You’ll retain your rights to holiday entitlement, maternity leave, and sick pay… while your employer is required by law to conduct a health and safety risk assessment of your workspace and make suitable adjustments.

Set clear boundaries by creating a workspace that can be separated from your ‘home’ life… minimizing potential distractions and preventing work from intruding on your free time…

Although wearing your pajamas all day is an appealing idea… it’s recommended that you continue to wear work-appropriate clothing as it can help you focus, ensures you’re prepared for unexpected video calls, and forms another barrier between your work and home life.

Next, establish a routine with set working hours which are communicated to your team, and include overlap times where everyone is online to help facilitate group discussions…

… set ground rules for communication… establishing appropriate language for each channel… recognizing that what works for an instant message might not for an email… and understanding that colloquialisms and nuances could be lost in translation… potentially offending.

Pick the tools that are right for you by thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish and identifying the requirement to easily share information with your team…

… as well as email and phone services… why not try an instant messenger like Slack for daily chats… and invest in project management tools, like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp to track progress and gain an insight into the overall aims of the task…

…programs like Google Docs enable groups to edit a shared document … while video conferencing software can help recreate the face-to-face interactions that characterize office environments.

But how can organizations ensure remote working is a success?

Well, start by building a strong, supportive culture that embraces different working styles and trusts everyone to do their job… remembering to recognize individual achievement, and organizing regular team get-togethers so employees can get to know each other in person.

In Summary…
Remote working provides individuals the flexibility to work where and how they want, boosting their overall wellbeing and increasing their productivity as they’re able to work when they’re at their most effective… benefiting organizations who are no longer constrained by location when looking for the best employees.