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How to Transition to a Remote Workforce

Experts have predicted that nearly half of the workforce will be remote, at least in some capacity, by the end of 2020. We have the technology and capabilities to make it happen, and it’s estimated that 4.3 million workers (or 3.4% of the U.S. population) already work from home one or more days per week.

But even with a 159% increase in remote work over the past 12 years, we’re still not quite to the point where half the workforce is working from home. Still, many companies are joining the ranks of a remote workforce and eager to embrace its many benefits. Here are some practical activities that can help you ease the transition:

Infuse Remote Work with Company Culture

Video conferencing can help support company culture.

One of the biggest fears of companies considering going remote is the loss of facetime that’s essential to building the corporate culture. Remote workers still need to feel like they belong, so it’s important for your corporate culture to spill over into offsite teams.

Some teams do this by hosting offsite events or retreats. For example, St. Petersburg-based SEO agency The Hoth invites its 400+ freelance writing team to a convention once per year so they can meet the in-house team and network with other freelance writers. Other companies may invest in video conferencing or chat channels like Slack to keep in touch — the goal is to have something that unites a fragmented workforce and makes each person feel like part of the team.

Develop Remote Work Policies

Though many companies have the means to allow remote work, the majority do not have the right procedures in place to manage remote workers or monitor performance. Developing policies specific to remote conditions can increase accountability, maintain productivity, and enhance communication and collaboration.

Invest in Remote Technologies

Setting your employees up for remote success means using the right tools to help them perform. These tools may vary by company, but ideally, you’ll need to facilitate communication (e.g., videoconferences, live chat, etc.), project management software (e.g., Trello, Monday, Basecamp, etc.), and productivity trackers so managers can monitor performance.

In addition, businesses should consider potential security concerns if workers must access the company intranet. Remote workers may be using a variety of devices from different networks, such as their local coffee shop. Security measures should be in place prior to making the switch for a smooth transition.

Prepare Team Leadership

Train managers on how to handle a fragmented workforce.

Successful remote work requires the buy-in and preparation of team leaders. The transition to remote work can be overwhelming even to the most dedicated leaders, so take time to provide training on new remote work policies and procedures, tools, and expectations.

It’s safe to say that we’ll likely never have a 100% remote workforce, as many jobs like retail and warehouse roles, line cooks, and delivery services still depend on in-person labor. But companies can and should look at their own corporate ecosystem to see if it makes sense to send workers home — workers’ desire to work from home isn’t going away, and with a successful transition, your company can remain competitive for talent and continue moving forward.