Working remotely is an incredibly desirable option for many employees. The ability to work from home gives them the freedom to pick and choose their working hours, whilst the money saved from not having to endure the daily commute, makes it a lucrative option.

But working remotely isn’t just beneficial to employees – it’s also a sensible and cost-effective decision on the part of employers too.

Working remotely is of benefit to both employee and employer

Working remotely is expanding. As an employer, this is a good thing, as it enables you to cast your net wider, when looking for new recruits. Instead of limiting yourself to the talent available in your local vicinity, you can search throughout the country for the ideal candidate.

When you have an employee who’s prepared to work remotely, you reap the cost saving benefits of this decision, when it comes to office space. The rental of suitable premises usually accounts for a large amount of your overall budget. However, if your employees work remotely, you can adjust your office needs accordingly.

However, before you make the leap from working in an office cubicle to working at home on your laptop, you need to consider both the lessons learnt and the realisations it affords. Here’s our top ones.

Lessons learnt from working remotely

#1: Working remotely will affect employee attitude

For some, this will be a good thing, whilst for others; not so much. How they dress, act and even their productivity levels can change, once working remotely. If working remotely suits an employee, they’ll thrive under the freedom it gives them. If however, they struggle with organisation and self-discipline, they’re going to struggle working remotely at home.

Personally, I get dressed for work every day – even if it’s just jeans & a t-shirt.  My hair is always done and I’m dressed for the day. I find it helps with my mindset, if I actually get dressed for the day, before going into my office.

#2: Work boundaries are essential – across the board

Any employee who is going to work from home needs to understand – a dedicated working space is a must. Not only does it give them somewhere to work, it’s also an essential work boundary that helps with their work-life balance (or work-life interaction, as I prefer to call it). Other work life boundary essentials include taking regular breaks, setting regular working hours, and implementing working day practices (such as detailed in this BBC article entitled ‘I turn off the doorbell when I work from home’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48180804). If you’re working behind the scenes and out of your usual office hours, don’t email out to anyone. Instead, save them as drafts and send them when you are back in normal office hours.

As an employer it’s equally important that you respect the working hours of your remote workers. Just because they work remotely, or you’re working late in the office, it doesn’t mean they’re able 24/7.

I’ve learnt that it’s critical for you to clearly communicate and mutually respect, your own and your clients, working times – and vice versa.

#3: You need to become self-sufficient and self-reliant

As a remote worker, you’re more likely to be proactive in troubleshooting a problem as best you can, before asking for help. You’ve not got your colleagues around to ask, and there’s no on-tap IT or office guru around! Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are both great qualities – Googling or YouTube a problem will more often than not, deliver you the solution!

#4: Working remotely can lower occupational stress – but other things can raise it!

The things that irked you, when working in an office environment, fade away when you work remotely. However, if you’re not careful with setting your boundaries and taking control of your working day, other things can subsequently cause those stress levels to rise.

Work-life conflicts, commuting, noise levels and even colleague interruptions are all things that cause stress levels to rise, when working in an office environment. Once you’re working remotely though, those things are no longer an issue. However, there are a new set of issues to factor into your life – disrupted communication between you and the office, lack of support, as well as feeling undervalued and undermined by your office-based colleagues. It is therefore essential that you look after your mental health and not allow these things to escalate, before you’ve had a chance to address and deal with them.

Big realisations gleaned from remote working

#1: Employees and employers need connection

Even if it’s a regular catch up via Zoom or telephone, or a face-to-face meeting on a monthly basis, connections with the office are crucial, if you want to build and maintain working relationships. Forbes has an excellent article on how to keep your team connected from afar.

#2: Working remotely can positively affect dedication and health.

Studies show remote workers have fewer sick days. They also work just as hard, if not harder, than their office-based counterparts and, in a 2015 study, 30% of employees felt their productivity increased when working from home. (Ref: YouGov Omnibus research).

#3: Remote team member performance hinges on feedback and communication

Feedback, and communication generally, are both vitally important for remote employees – as with any role, everybody benefits from feedback. Remote employees need clearer feedback and a more consistent method of communication, as they often feel isolated from their colleagues (as indicated in this Harvard Business article on remote workers). Lack of clear feedback from their employers can leave them feeling totally unmotivated and unproductive – something that needs addressing, if you hope to benefit from having a team that’s working remotely.

#4: Working remotely leads to greater commitment, loyalty and a willingness to give back

Remote working also leads to a happier, more loyal employee. Working remotely allows a certain level of freedom for employees – and this is a great motivator. Remote workers are more willing to work overtime and change their working hours, if needed. (as per a Research Paper entitled ‘Flexibility in the workplace’ by Professor Sharon Clarke and Dr Lynn Holdsworth, for the University of Manchester).

The opportunities of working from home are huge and mutually beneficial to both the remote worker and employer/client. If you are ready to see what working remotely with a Virtual PA could look like for you, click here to get started with Elite PA Solutions.