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SUSTAINABILITY OF REMOTE WORK

by | Jul 30, 2020

Now that we’ve demonstrated that office employees can work productively at home, it’s time to move on to addressing the challenges of making remote work sustainable. (For more on the possibility of work-from-home becoming the new normal, try this Forbes article.) At Tribe, we’re thinking there are a handful of issues that will need to be addressed, if we’re going to make remote work sustainable over the long term:

Connectivity:

This is a very basic business need for remote workers, but in some cases difficult to address. As long as employees have great internet connectivity at home, handling meetings over Zoom or Teams works pretty well. But those in rural areas or dead zones may struggle to stay connected and find themselves out of the loop.

In Tribe’s recent national survey with corporate employees currently working at home due to the pandemic, we asked respondents what their companies could do to help them thrive working from home. The highest ranking option was having the company pay for better internet speed or bandwidth.

Collaboration:

It’s tough to know how to promote spontaneous collaboration without the random face-to-face conversations that happen in the hallways and break rooms of the office. Approaching collaboration more deliberately might require social platforms or scheduled brainstormings. We can also increase the likelihood of collaboration by helping to connect employees across functional areas and establishing some sort of human connection, even if it’s in the form of employee spotlights that give a little of the personal back story. People are more comfortable collaborating when they feel like they know the person they’re bouncing ideas off.

Intranets:

If employees continue to work from home, there will be more pressure on intranets to fill the void of face-to-face contact. For companies that haven’t updated their platform lately, this may be the time. For those that already have an easy-to-use intranet in place, you may want to create a stronger flow of fresh content with a content manager program or by allowing more employee comments and social features.

At Tribe, we’ve often said over the years that the intranet can be the Main Street of your company, where employees can bump into each other. When employees can’t bump into each other in real life, the intranet can play an important role in making remote work sustainable over the long haul.

Tutoring for kids:

Last spring’s experiment with online learning was deemed a disaster by many families, and with school openings uncertain for August, many parents are feeling anxious about how they’re going to manage their work responsibilities along with the need to help their children with schoolwork.

To help the sustainability of remote work for parents through this fall and winter, companies may find that offering free online tutors is a good investment, either one-on-one or in small groups. Even small gestures that demonstrate the company sees what parents are up against can help. For instance, you might consider sending back-to-school packages to employees’ kids with age appropriate supplies and goodies.

One of the most interesting results of our recent research was the abundance of comments from employees who said their companies had done a great job of managing the move to remote work. Over 31% said they were more likely now to recommend their employer as a great place to work than before the pandemic. The way companies handle this challenge, in the short term and the potential long term, will impact their future engagement, retention and recruitment of top talent.

Have a communications challenge at your company? Tribe can help.

 

 

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