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How can businesses manage remote working?

The world of work has changed beyond recognition in recent years, with technological advances transforming how and where we do our jobs.

Remote working undeniably offers many benefits to mortgage brokers, such as greater flexibility and an improved work-life balance, as well as time and money being spent on commuting.

But many feel that this approach also poses a set of challenges to their business that need to be overcome.

For example, many senior and self-employed brokers will be quite happy basing themselves at home rather than coming into a shared office space. Yet many mortgage brokers need the insights of their more experienced colleagues in order to learn and develop.

At the same time, many admin staff will be office-based, and that opens up a debate about whether remote working is creating a two-tier system in the workplace.

The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to remote working and it’s not going away. So how can you manage the issues that it brings and strike the right balance between the pros and cons?

Addressing challenges created by remote working

Maintain team collaboration

Many brokers may be concerned that without face-to-face interaction, members of their team are less likely to raise problems in real-time and share their knowledge, insights and ideals.

It’s therefore really important for businesses to make sure all members of staff have robust communication tools at their disposal, so office-based and remote colleagues can engage with each other quickly and easily.

As part of this, foster a culture where people based in different locations communicate via video call rather than email, so members of the team still talk to and see each other and build stronger mutual relationships.

Cyber-security

Mortgage brokers routinely handle sensitive personal and financial information, so it’s really important that stringent security protocols are in place to safeguard valuable data.

For example, you could ensure members of staff only use business-approved devices equipped with anti-virus software to perform work-related tasks, only share sensitive documents via their business email accounts, and make sure shared digital spaces are password protected.

Educating members of staff on cyber-security must also be a priority, so both office-based and remote employees understand and adhere to the same rules and standards.

Personal development

The office environment can be the perfect place to share knowledge, expertise and insights, and learn from osmosis simply by virtue of being around other talented, experienced people.

The rise of remote working requires businesses to find innovative ways of giving employees opportunities to progress and broaden their skills base, such as mentorship programs, virtual training sessions and regular 121s with line managers. 

Employees who generally prefer working remotely might also be prepared to come in for occasional in-person training sessions, as it wouldn’t massively disrupt their preferred working patterns.

These approaches may also be highly effective when you’re on-boarding new members of staff who would prefer to work remotely.

Driving productivity

Although many remote workers argue they’re more productive outside of the office, it’s important for businesses to be able to measure this accurately. You can do this by devising performance metrics for each individual and making it clear what is expected of them day-to-day, just as you would for an office-based employee.

Developing relationships among your team

The success of a team often relies on an intangible factor - the bonds, friendships and sense of camaraderie among colleagues.

If you have a proportion of your workforce operating remotely, it’s important to make sure they’re part of this positive culture and feel a connection with those in the office.

As we discussed earlier, requiring people to communicate via video call rather than email is one good way to put colleagues in front of each other and remind everyone that they’re dealing with real people, not just names on a screen.

You can take this a step further by scheduling team meetings for the start of each day, with each person on camera sharing news about what they’re working on and perhaps a few personal highlights too.

That means everyone has an insight into other people’s roles, and can find out a little about what they like doing outside of work.

You could also encourage regular staff socials, where members of staff can come together in an informal setting, get to know each other better and have a good time. This can promote deeper relationships between colleagues in the long run, and perhaps give remote workers the confidence to come into the office more frequently.

Learn more: How To Manage Your Team Remotely

How can you tempt brokers back to the office?

If you want your workers to spend more time in the office, the answer is perhaps to give them a compelling reason to come in and offer something they can’t get at home.

That could be face-to-face training sessions and team meetings, specifically designed to get people together, share ideas, strengthen relationships and build a sense of familiarity, friendship and community among your workforce.

You could also offer mentorships to people who are keen to develop professionally, which would again be more effective in the same physical space.

If these relationships are formed and maintained, there’s a good chance that your team will feel more motivated to go to the time and expense of travelling into the office more frequently.

At the same time, you could try to encourage a balance among those who prefer remote working, so rather than make full-time attendance mandatory, ask them to come into the office at least two or three times a week, and be flexible if there’s a specific reason they need to work from home on a particular day.

Many of the benefits of physically being in an office are intangible and impossible to measure.

But highlighting these unique qualities and fostering a culture where they’re actively encouraged could be hugely effective in persuading people to spend more of their working time in the physical presence of their colleagues.

Learn more: How To Manage Remote And Hybrid Working Effectively

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