The world has turned upside down in 2020. No one could have predicted the events that have unfolded and the transformative effects they’ve had on the way the world works.
The 2019 ONS labour market reported that 1.7 million of the 32.6 million people in employment in the UK worked from home. This amounts to less than five per cent of the labour force.
Those numbers are looking rather different in 2020. Currently, those that can are working from home, most without any regular experience of working remotely before.
The proportion of workers choosing to work from home and employers growing more sympathetic to the trend, has been steadily increasing in recent years. But COVID-19 has cemented things, forcing the situation on many employers and employees. So how do the collaboration mechanics of the office translate to a remote situation?
Could work from home figures drastically rise after lockdown ends?
It could well be that the way we work has been altered forever. A survey on the HR Director revealed that 60 per cent of people would like to work from home more often than they did previously when lockdown measures are lifted and the virus neutralised. Almost two thirds said they’d prefer to work from home two or three times a week, and a quarter of respondents said they’d like to go into the office only once a week.
Eighty-four per cent of people said it’s ‘quite’ or ‘very’ important for employers to offer the option of working from home.
The case for remote working
Why does the workforce embrace working from home to such a large extent? There are several reasons; one of the most pertinent is that those working from home, otherwise known as telecommuting employees, report lower stress levels as a major boon of not commuting.
An overwhelming number of workers, 82 per cent, report lower stress when working from home. The benefits for employers are also enhanced as companies enjoy increased productivity and lower expenses when they embrace a work from home culture.
There’s more: teams who work collaboratively spend 64 per cent more time perfecting tasks and combining their individual inputs and skill sets than when they are undertaken solo. Companies that promote collaborative working can increase their chances of being successful by a factor of five. But how do you promote collaboration and boost productivity when employees are working remotely with differing technology and home office setups?
Promoting and enabling collaboration in remote teams
Follow these tips and your employees, and by extension your organisation, will get the most out of remote working.
Democratise access to information and tools
Your employees when working remotely will need access to the same level of tools and technology they rely on when working from an office to get their jobs done to high standards. The following tips show you that working from home doesn’t have to be inferior to working from an office.
Embrace screen-sharing presentations
Whether during a team meeting or when you’re talking to a client or customer, by using screen-sharing technology, everyone can be on the same page, even when they aren’t in the same postcode, let alone the same room.
You can even use virtual whiteboard tools such as Miro; these tools allow teams to collaborate in real time.
One of the potential drawbacks of remote working is the lack of control companies have over technology. If you cannot provide each employee with a laptop, they will have to work from their own laptops. This can cause reliability issues, as you cannot control the quality of the machines your employees work from in the same way you can from a physical office.
Moreover, if your employees require certain pieces of software to perform their roles properly, this is easier to manage from a physical office location and it’s going to test your tech team’s processes to the limit.
However, there are some steps you can take by implementing technical solutions that will enable your employees to do their jobs efficiently and collaborate better, too.
Video conferencing solutions
One element of technology that is relatively easy for employers to provide is webcams.
With more and more meetings being held virtually via video conferencing technology, it’s imperative that all employees can participate in a video call with clear sound and audio. Webcams from Logitech are a great start.
Select the highest-quality video cameras, speakers and microphones and you’ll ensure everyone can be clearly seen and heard during the call. Remember when you’re asking your team to setup, using the same audio and microphone channels mean less chance of sound disruption such as echoing from ruining a meeting.
Educate teams on project management tools
When teams collaborate and share documents regularly, it is good practice to use project management tools. Project management tools such as Trello and Teamwork allow team members to share documents that are being worked on as a group, tag colleagues for input and leave messages summarising meetings and changes to requirements.
Project management tools also allow work to be allocated to employees. By including detailed briefs and instructions, collaboration is as easy as if you were in the same room.
Communication is essential
All the right information is useless if you don’t have the right communication to line things up. Good communication is even more important when teams are remote; if anything our current situation has highlighted its essential role when it comes to collaboration.
While look rather different now, there are still things you can do to ensure communication levels remain high, when your employees are working remotely.
Expect colleagues to stick to core working hours
Just because your teams are working from home, your standards don’t need to slip. There’s no excuse for sloppiness. By implementing a core working hours policy, everyone knows that their colleagues are available throughout the day; this makes it easier to book in meetings, ask for last-minute assistance at the end of the day and ensure everybody is striving towards shared goals at the same time.
Encourage regular brainstorming sessions
A key way to collaborate is the team brainstorm. These idea-generating sessions should only take 30 minutes or so, but they are invaluable, increasing productivity and saving time down the line. Encourage regular brainstorms to boost team morale and improve the feeling of team cohesion.
Collaborate from home with ease in 2020
Remote working doesn’t have to mean less or poorer quality collaboration. Instead, if employers recognise the benefits of increased collaboration and incorporate it more into company culture, even if it’s done from home, remote working can lead to a positive working culture and huge boosts to employee welfare and company productivity.
Want to find out more about how the right remote working technology can help support collaboration in your team? Get in touch with the Projectorpoint team today.