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How to Create a Remote-Friendly Work Environment

Key Takeaways

1. Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across all industries can now more easily restructure their operations to include a wide-range of remote-friendly policies in their business model. 

2. Some key benefits that come with creating a remote-friendly work environment include retaining direct forms of communication, greater productivity, taking advantage of other remote-working benefits, having a diverse globally distributed team, and the chance to promote a greater work-life balance for everyone.

3. Tips to create a remote-friendly work environment include comprehensive remote work policies, revisiting information security policies, consider the allowances to ensure employees can work safety and securely from their remote workspace, and ensuring consistent, timely evaluations of remote-friendly policies in place.

4. Companies that are not sure if can they can implement remote-friendly policies for their employees can turn to a global PEO to support them in hiring remote workers with a diverse range of skills and expertise from anywhere in the world.

The ability to work remotely pre-pandemic was a unique alternative, only afforded to a few, and well outside the realm of what was considered mainstream working conditions.  These days, remote working is widely accepted and promoted as a way for companies to remain competitive across their respective industries, even if policies are integrated in part. 

This article will focus on what it means to have a ‘remote-friendly’ work environment, what some of the benefits are, and will offer some tips on how to create a remote-friendly work environment in your company.

Pre and Post Pandemic Work Environments

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of jobs available were office-based. It was expected that the majority of work duties were completed on-site, with employees working to similar schedules. It was also an expectation for employees to live a commutable distance from their company’s office, with recruitment strategies taking this as a consideration when hiring new employees.  

The COVID-19 pandemic directly challenged this traditional model, casting doubt upon its efficacy as the ideal work way of working:  Now we are seeing companies restructure their policies to build remote working conditions into the mix of their operations, either in full or in part.

What does remote-friendly mean?

‘Remote-friendly’ indicates that a company offers some flexibility for remote working conditions. A remote-friendly company will have a physical headquarters, where in-house employees will work all or some of the time. In the job marketplace, remote-friendly conditions are often referred to as “hybrid opportunities.” Here are some examples of remote-friendly strategies that a company could offer:

  • The ability for employees to work from home (WFH) a few times a week or month
  • The option for employees to flexibly organize their schedule to include time at the office and time WFH
  • The option for employees to opt in for an extended period annually (30 days+) to work from any location they like, but remain in-house the remainder of the working year
  • The flexibility choose their working hours outside the traditional 9am-5pm work schedule.
  • A combination of in-house employees and outsourced team members with remote working being highly role dependent

This list is not exhaustive and it is entirely up to a company to set their own remote-friendly strategies that best suit their company’s needs. 

What are the benefits of a remote-friendly workplace?

Several benefits have been realized from companies who have already implemented remote-friendly strategies and policies in their business models. Let’s have a look at some of these.

  • Allows for some direct communication to still take place
  • Despite advancements in remote communication tools, in-person communication is still the fastest way to get a message across. It is also a much more effective way to build rapport and trust amongst a team.
  • By having a mixed model with remote, and in-office work, the company can still retain many of the benefits of in-office collaboration. 
  • Greater productivity inside and outside the office
  • Giving some flexibility to someone to choose how and where they want to work gives employees a newfound level of control in their lives that did not exist in traditional work strategies. This directly impacts productivity levels of employees as some work better remotely, while some prefer on-site working. Giving employees this choice, even with parameters can foster a new level of respect and trust for the company.
  • Incidental remote working benefits
  • Remote-friendly policies can mean inviting the chance to relish in some of the benefits that have manifested from remote working in general. Remote working has been found to bring cost-saving opportunities, fewer sick days, more flexibility in workforce schedules and the ability to introduce greater diversity in teams.  
  • Allows for the opportunity to have a globally distributed workforce
  • The distributed workforce is not a new phenomenon, as companies have been able to expand their operations across multiple locations for decades. However, remote-friendly policies offer a company the chance to create their own form of distributed workforce, that does not require opening an official office space in a new location. This also means that companies have a chance to hire remote talent with remote-friendly skills and expertise from anywhere in the world and integrate them into their on-site teams with ease.  
  • Possibility for a greater work-life balance
  • Although a key benefit derived from remote working in general, it’s important to highlight on its own. Remote-friendly policies can offer both employers and employees a chance to find new ways of ensuring a better work-life balance. Finding this balance through remote-friendly strategies can foster higher well-being in employees and directly affect how a company operates.  

Tips for creating a remote-friendly workplace

Now that you know the benefits, let’s go through some tips on how to create an effective remote-friendly workplace. 

  • Retain a physical office space
  • A key difference between remote-friendly and remote-first companies is that a remote-friendly company still retains a physical office space for in-house employees to work out of when they are not WFH or other external location.  
  • While it may be tempting for businesses that allow remote work to reduce their physical office footprint, a remote-friendly environment still requires an office conducive to collaborative work. 
  • Create and implement comprehensive remote working policies
  • Sometimes, in-house work policies may not translate over to remote working conditions: Spending the extra time planning and creating comprehensive remote working policies is crucial, so employees understand a company’s stance for hybrid working arrangements. Policies should provide clear policies of expectations when working outside the physical office space as well. These policies are also great to set baseline expectations to outsourced remote workers or full-time WFH employees.
  • Re-visit information security policies
  • You should also consider what the integration of remote working conditions means for your company’s information security. This may mean you need to evaluate your current information security policies and introduce new requisites for remote working.
  • Allowances for adequate remote working equipment and conditions
  • Building on the previous tip, ensuring you are protecting your companies’ digital assets and information, as well as your employee’s general well-being is crucial for effective business operations in a remote-friendly work environment.  To meet these needs, it may be worth providing remote work allowances to employees to create a secure and comfortable remote workspace. Some things that may need an allowance can include high-speed internet packages, company devices, phone plans, software, or for employees to set up an ergonomic office space at home or rent a desk space at a local co-working hub.
  • Ensure mechanisms for on-site and remote workers to easily collaborate together
  • If you are considering a remote-friendly strategy, having mechanisms in place for employees to know each other’s schedule is important. This may also mean implementing complementary communication technologies, so ease of communication is ensured between on-site and remote workers.
  • At the same time, each business needs to consider whether asynchronous communication may benefit their remote workers — otherwise, employees may feel they always need to be ‘on’. 
  • Organize routine check-ups to evaluate if remote-friendly strategies are meeting your business goals
  • The great thing about implementing and building a remote-friendly culture is that it provides some flexibility for changes if an element of any remote-working policy is not working as it should (for example, businesses need to keep track of whether proximity bias is affected their promotion decisions for remote workers). This could mean introducing more flexibility in policies on offer to employees or tailoring solutions to the needs of the company to better fit remote-working conditions. 

Conclusion

Whether you already have a remote-friendly strategy in place or are in the midst of creating one, Horizons can help support your company in hiring remote workers from anywhere in the world. As a leading global PEO, Horizons understands the challenges that companies face when integrating remote-friendly policies to their business models.

They take over all compliance and payroll obligations when hiring workers from a different country, meaning you can focus on how else you can implement more remote-friendly policies for your workforce.

To find out more about how global PEO can help support remote-friendly hiring all over the world, get in touch with one of our international hire experts. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A remote-first policy indicates a company operates completely remotely, meaning employers and employees are distributed from multiple locations. Remote-first also hints that no physical headquarters are attached with any of their operations.

A remote-friendly strategy indicates there are parameters to remote working conditions existing within a company. A remote-friendly company will also have a physical office or offices where on-site employees will still be working out of.

A remote worker is an individual who either works all or some of the time from a workspace that is not considered official company infrastructure.

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