How To Create a Robust Remote Work Environment

While remote work was once considered a privilege, it is now a new norm among many businesses.

IWGplc, an international workplace provider, found that 70% of people globally work from home at least once per week.

This number has surely skyrocketed given the pandemic. 

Building and managing remote teams within your company is a challenging but rewarding practice. For some businesses, it’s a way to solve staffing problems while lowering overhead costs. For others, it’s a lifestyle that aligns with company values. 

Either way, remote work proves to be a promising way of sustaining your business. 

Technology has made remote work possible for anyone who has a computer and stable access to the internet.

In this article, learn how to create a robust remote work environment. Stay with us!

Why Work Remotely? 

A variety of benefits attract both employers and employees to remote work.

Employees can feel comfortable within the confines of their own home or, pre-pandemic, nestling a cappuccino at the nearest coffee shop. Employers can rest knowing that they don’t need to worry about too much overhead. 

 

Advantages for Employees

  • Time-saving

The first thing that may come to mind when you think of remote work is no daily commute. The time that employees save every day can be used for both personal and professional development or merely establishing a better work-life balance. 

  • Flexibility

Employees are allowed to organize their daily work efficiently in a way that takes into account their peak performance time and their most accommodating schedule.

  • Productivity

Remote work removes the possibility of office distractions which helps remote employees maintain better focus. This ensures that the time employees spend in front of the screen is well-spent.

  • Self-organization

Unlike an on-site office, the remote option doesn’t leave much space for managerial supervision and requires team leaders to leave their employees with a certain degree of trust.

Employees appreciate this confidence. 

Advantages for Employers

  • Cost reduction

An employer can save an average of $11,000 per year if employees worked together only half the time. ween $1000 and $11,000 per remote employee every year.

This is due to lower or zero costs for office space, utilities, office supplies, etc. 

  • Employee wellness

Remote workers are happier and healthier. Employees reported being more focused and less stressed. 

  • Global access

Through remote work, employers have the opportunity to invite global talent to join your company no matter where they are located. You can find great additions to your team in lesser-known places and at a more affordable price. 

  • Sustainable

Taking care of the environment is an important step forward for the planet’s long-term sustainability. Working remotely cuts down on the use of single-use plastic cups and food containers, paper consumption, and traffic pollution.

Challenges of Remote Work

There are two sides to any coin. As amazing and beneficial as remote work is, not all digital nomads are working on a sunny beach basking under the sun. 

Remote working does involve work and that means meeting deadlines and performance requirements to satisfy a common objective.

No matter the work environment, this is not always a stress-free task. 

Related read: The 11 biggest challenges of remote work environments

Communication 

Communication remains one of the biggest problems of a remote work environment.

Of course, modern technology has provided helpful tools like Trello, Slack, Zoom, Skype, Asana, and others that enable team communications and information sharing. Still, details get lost in translation when face-to-face communication is absent.

This just means you need to prioritize clear and effective communication as much as possible. 

Distractions 

Though common workplace distractions like nosy managers and noisy colleagues can be a nuisance, working from home has its own challenges. 

From family interruptions to household chores, it’s easy to get distracted whether purposeful or not. It is the employee’s responsibility to manage their time wisely.

But it is management’s responsibility to give employees the tools to do so. 

Alienation

Remote employees may feel isolated from the rest of the company which can negatively affect their sense of belonging. To boost team morale, team leaders must find ways to give incentives for active participation and create a company’s social culture.  

5 Pillars of a Robust Remote Working Environment

Remote working is often associated with less structure when it comes to day-to-day operations.

It's quite the opposite.

Distributed teams need to be extremely clear on the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This structure is what ensures the success of the team over time.

A thriving remote work environment helps teams to:

  • Perform their best
  • Maintain healthy connections between members
  • Focus on growth, and
  • Reach mutual goals.

When all these elements are optimized, you can guarantee success in meeting project goals.  

1. Clear Expectations

Establishing clear expectations is key to a productive work environment.

The structure of remote work may be less organic than at an on-workplace, and especially in the early stages of collaboration, it is important to avoid misunderstanding. 

Your expectations should not be limited to the outcomes of the project or set key performance indicators (KPIs). Expectations can revolve around interpersonal communications, quality standards, situational behavior, and adaptivity. 

These expectations should be clear to employees when being interviewed and reiterated when they join the team.

Regular check-ins and follow-ups with your remote employees can be an asset in managing expectations and eliminating miscommunication. 

2. Open Communication

Similarly, communication is an essential component of an inclusive and collaborative environment.

Creating trust between employer and employee is the first and most crucial step in facilitating open communication. It’s best to provide the team with a safe environment for sharing new ideas and making suggestions. 

Team members should never feel the need to silence themselves. 

Another ingredient of good communication is feedback. Feedback should be more nuanced than negative and positive; it should be constructive. Communication is undoubtedly one of the most critical features of a healthy company culture.

Businesses that welcome and support open communication establish better relationships with their employees and experience greater productivity.  

3. Employee Engagement 

Employee engagement will benefit your business in the long-term.

Keeping your employees engaged in their work will build loyalty and in effect, lead to lower turnover rates. When remote employees demonstrate enthusiastic involvement in meeting common goals for your business and the team it creates an environment that promotes professional growth, creativity, and collaboration. 

Team leaders who regularly reciprocate this enthusiasm and recognize the value of their employees will endorse a recurring cycle of employee involvement and employer recognition. 

Managers should also strive to help remote employees feel more included. This reflects on another pillar of a robust remote team – open communication. Inclusive workplaces delegate that every voice is heard. One way to do this is through team rituals or informal chats.

Employees who feel engaged also tend to be more productive, a topic you’ll learn more about further on. 

 4. Results-Oriented

Before you get stumped in the process of business operations, you need to set a goal.

A results-oriented approach drives numerous positive outcomes:

  • Reduced turnover
  • Increased work-life balance for employers
  • Increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment
  • Positive effect on employees’ energy levels and sleep duration

That said, results-oriented work environments don’t imply that there is no process.

Rather, team leaders must find a means of measuring progress and track their efforts in order to deliver a successful project. 

5. Mutual Trust

Working on a remote distributed team can often feel like a long-distance relationship. Because of this, trust must be the foundation of your team’s collaboration. Several aspects of a robust remote work environment rely on trust. 

For example, employers must give their remote teams the autonomy to organize themselves, trusting that they will deliver quality results on time. 

Employees take this responsibility and work to create the best output they can.

Both parties work towards creating a better workplace where everyone has confidence in one another regardless of the work styles involved. 

4 Ways To Boost Remote Team Productivity

Productivity is another challenge of a remote work environment that requires a bit more attention.

Many business managers fear that the lack of supervision in remote teams will lead to poor organization and project delays. On the contrary, a FlexJobs survey found that 66% of participants found they were more productive outside of the office.

But challenges related to productivity still occur.

While often the employee is somewhat to blame, employers need to be responsible for cultivating a structured work environment that will encourage productivity.

Here are four tips on how:

1. Set Priorities & Goals

Remote work requires a high level of self-organization.

Establishing clear expectations will help to avoid any possible confusion related to the deliverables that must be met. To do this, you must communicate clearly with your team about team objectives as well as how and when they should be reached.

Setting SMART – or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound goals – is a reliable method of meeting objectives.

This ensures that everybody is on the same page. 

2. Document Standard Procedures

Standardize and document common procedures to save time on business operations. 

Research and plan the procedures you need to document to be sure that all necessary information is covered. And make sure the documents explain step-by-step how a certain task is accomplished. 

These documents can be modified when necessary.

Ultimately, it will give you a jump start when it comes to completing integral but repetitive tasks. In the long-run, this will keep your team more productive. 

3. Provide Regular Feedback

Feedback is key to both the professional development of your team members and steady project development. It also helps team members evaluate their performance and adjust themselves accordingly.

By providing feedback regularly, you incorporate this habit into your software development process, making continuous development an indispensable part of your business’s growth.

Feedback should be honest but not insulting.

You should try your best to recognize the hard work that your employees have down while also providing helpful suggestions for them to grow. 

Feedback comes in many forms:

  • Encouragement
  • Constructive ideas on how to improve a particular skill or technique
  • Praise for good work

4. Centralize Resources & Communication

It’s important to have a hub where team members have easy access to all the resources and communication tools they need to work on the project at hand.

There are many remote tools available through the web where team members and team leaders can collaborate and find information in common. Google Docs, Trello, and Zoom are just a few household names fro those familiar with remote work.

Of course, you have a whole slew of options to choose from, given you do a little research. 

3 Examples of Companies Growing by Embracing Remote Work

It might seem like the idea of remote work is relatively new.

Although it’s true that many more businesses are considered going remote these days as compared to the past, there are quite a few companies that have been doing remote successfully for a good bit of time.  

These companies have successfully built their entire framework around the idea of remote work, and they are using it to grow faster than ever and establish themselves as leaders in the current market.

Let's go ahead and take a look at some companies who have chosen to go remote and are all the better for it. 

1. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is adapting search engines as you know it to prioritize privacy rather than personalized search queries.

Competing with Google is undoubtedly impressive, but it's equally remarkable that they do this with fully remote teams. 

Building a cutting-edge online business such as this requires a lot of forward-thinking, both with how you develop your product and build your team remotely.

DuckDuckGo seems like a perfect example of remote done right.

By combining the convenience of remote work with the benefits and perks of a traditional full-time job they truly stand out as a phenomenal remote employer. 

Developing and maintaining a positive, consistent company culture seems to be a priority for DuckDuckGo.

They go out of their way to ensure that their core values are clear and consistent, making sure their team is on the same page, and rewarding behavior that is in-line with their ideals as a company. 

Also, they go into detail in a blog post on how they use fun activities and events to maintain a positive and constructive work-culture while being remote.

Establishing a defined culture is vital when building a company remotely. 

Whether it's having clear values or ensuring your employees’ voices are heard, this is all part of having a team that enjoys the work they do. Positivity and productivity go hand in hand. 

2. Zapier 

When discussing automation software, Zapier often comes to mind.

Their firm commitment to user-friendly automation and flexibility with software integrations makes them stand out as a flagship company in their respective industry. 

Zapier makes something as complicated as automation remarkably easy, and does so with a remote-based team.

This company takes remote seriously, integrating the idea into its operations by employing over 200 people across a large handful of countries. They even have a guide on how to do remote right. 

One lesson is that respecting your digital employees is paramount for running business operations smoothly as is allowing them to manage their time in a way that makes sense.

Zapier recommends avoiding burnout by establishing a strict start and end time for the workday. 

Simply put, Zapier is a thought leader in the remote work world and is a good source of inspiration for building a remote-powered team. 

Much of the information and guidance that Zapier offers for building remote-teams revolve around positive open-ended communication, utilizing the right collaboration tools,e and sourcing talent that fits into the structure of your distributed workforce.

3. Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc is a remote-based software house that specializes in digital services for government agencies.

They go out of their way to utilize the advantages of remote-teams to their full potential, recognizing that it's easier to source talent if geographical restrictions are not a factor. 

By integrating remote into their business from day one, Ad Hoc has given themselves a clear path to success through the flexibility, results-based work, and diversity that is fundamental to remote teams. 

Where some people focus on the challenges of building a remote company, Ad Hoc saw the benefits of using remote work as a critical aspect of their company.

For Ad Hoc, finding people who could adjust well to remote work was crucial. They go out of their way to advocate for remote work in their written content to those who are hesitant.  

Encouraging their remote employees to nurture their social life through organic and planned means is also important to Ad Hoc. The Ad Hoc Slack uses a ‘Hey Buddy’ tool to pair to connect two employees each week.

Ad Hoc enables its internal organization to be empowered by a remote-setting rather than hindered. This is certainly something to strive for when building a company using the remote-first model.

Conclusion

In the coming years, more and more companies will utilize the power of remote to their advantage.

Because of this, new industries will emerge and old industries will be disrupted. But if you want your business to be part of the new and save financial and resources in the process, consider going remote. 

You already have an idea of what to expect.

From the challenges of remote work like employee engagement to the pillars of a robust remote team such as open communication and of course the tips you should keep in mind to keep your team productive, you have the underlying knowledge to start thinking seriously about building a remote-powered startup. 

Trio provides services for scaling up a remote-based team in a streamlined way, so you can focus on building your product.

Connect with us today to make your remote-powered startup a reality.

 

Daniel Alcanja

CTO

About

Co-Founder & CTO of Trio. With more than 17 years of programming experience

Frequently Asked Questions

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Employees can feel comfortable within the confines of their own home or, pre-pandemic, nestling a cappuccino at the nearest coffee shop. Employers can rest knowing that they don’t need to worry about too much overhead.

1. Set Priorities & Goals 2. Document Standard Procedures 3. Provide Regular Feedback 4. Centralize Resources & Communication