According to the Office of National Statistics, 30% of adults in the UK were exclusively working from home at the start of July, indicative of a seismic shift in the way the country works. While some things could return to the way they were if a Covid-19 vaccine is found or social distancing measures fully relaxed, remote working looks to be here to stay.
Many businesses across the country have realised that they are able to work effectively remotely, and it’s fair to say the pandemic has merely accelerated a wider shift to remote working.
While it’s likely that your employees will still come into the office from time to time, many would opt to remain working from home if given the opportunity. Research by PR firm Eskenzi found that 91% of UK office workers would like to work from home at least partially for the long run.
What’s more, by letting your staff work from home, you’re effectively giving your staff a pay rise. They will be saving the cost of their daily commute, which could be a large saving when spread over weeks or months. An employee who spent £10 a day commuting prior to lockdown will be saving over £200 a month. Not bad at all.
Keeping your brokerage productive
You’d be forgiven for thinking that employees’ productivity might start to suffer when working from home. After all, it’s certainly easier to keep an eye on what your staff are doing when they’re in the office. However, 77% of workers find that they are more productive when working flexibly according to research by Canada Life. This goes to show that the majority are driven enough to work to the best of their ability without face-to-face management.
We’re sure you’ve heard that old adage about employees being a business’s most important asset and it seems that working from home improves employees’ happiness and wellbeing, key to their performance.
An American study by MIT found 90% of those working from home reported their family and personal life improved and 93% even believed that collaboration was better than before. Many businesses have found that their employees are actually communicating better from home as they are motivated to video call a colleague, rather than just drop them an email for fear of disrupting a working office environment.
Managing a remote team
As we’re sure you realise after managing your team remotely for the whole of lockdown, motivating and supervising an online team is very different to doing it ‘in person’. While managing your team remotely is a huge shift when compared to conventional management, with the right procedures in place you can keep the energy and momentum in your business without a conventional office working structure.
Here are a few things you can do to keep your team performing at the top of their game when working from home:
Have a daily check-in call
When working remotely, engagement with the rest of your team is something you need to actively encourage. By arranging a regular team check-in, your team will continue to interact. It goes a long way to generating some of that healthy ‘buzz’ that you find in a great office environment.
What’s more, a team daily check-in ensures that the entire team is on the same page about your customers, products and leads.
Try to speak to the whole team at least once a day. Topics should include what they’re doing that day and customer updates, but it’s also great to have some small talk. After all, when your team isn’t getting together, you need to find space for the little, personal catch-ups that people naturally do when working in the office.
Ensure that staff have everything they need
Speak to your staff to see if there’s anything they need to be more productive at home. This might mean buying a few new headsets or even a laptop or two, but it will pay off in the long run if you make working from home a permanent part of your business model.
If employees have a proper home working environment, they will be more productive. Although this might incur some immediate costs on your behalf, you could save plenty on office rent and bills if a flexible working structure becomes permanent.
Use a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool
Project management softwares are organisational tools that you can use to organise and delegate work in a business. While many firms use these kinds of software even when working in the office, they become crucial to ensuring business success if you adopt a remote structure.
These digital solutions enable you to distribute work throughout the business and monitor your resources when you’re not there to do it physically. We’ve heard of smaller businesses using Zoho Projects and ClickUp to great success.
Get together at regular intervals
If you’re moving to a remote working structure, you need to ensure that you keep a sense of team camaraderie. A positive atmosphere is essential to ensure that your employees feel invested in what your brokerage is doing.
You shouldn’t make your Friday afternoon after work drinks a thing of the past and it’s certainly worth hosting regular team building activities. By having fun as a team, you’ll ensure you keep a sense of team spirit.
Offer encouragement and emotional support
So far we’ve talked predominantly about the beneficial aspects of a remote working structure. However, there are some issues that employees can face when working from home.
Sometimes employees suffer from loneliness and isolation when working at home for long periods. As their manager, you need to make sure that you’re there for your employees, even when they’re not in the office.
One frequently cited problem with remote working is that some of your employees might not be leaving the house during the week. For some, work provides a motivation for them to get out and about. Staying at home all day can have a detrimental effect on your employees’ mental health. You could suggest a daily walk or even set your employees challenges, like walking 5,000 steps a day.
Moving to a remote structure
At Accord, we see a more flexible way of working as part of the future for many brokerages. We’d love to hear any stories about how you have adopted a remote structure during the pandemic and any problems this has brought.
(Read more: What brokers should be doing post-lockdown)