No one is born knowing how to work remotely. We all learn through trial and error, reading tips for working from home and experimenting with the best way to maintain work-life balance. However, there is too much emphasis on it in this whole discussion she, the individual worker and what you should do. We need to recognize and pay more attention to the role of the employer. What employers do or don’t do can make or break your ability to be successful at remote work.
I’ve been writing about remote work for years, starting well before the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’ve written an in-depth book on the subject entitled The All-In-One Guide to Remote Work(Opens in a new window). So much of the bad advice I’ve seen about remote work ignores or downplays the role of the employer. It’s far easier to blame employees and make them feel personally responsible for whether they’re productive and happy, which is incredibly short-sighted. Employers play a crucial role and workers need to be informed about what they should expect or demand from their company.
So here are five things employers need to offer their employees to keep their remote work happy, healthy, and productive.
1. A remote first culture
The most important thing an employer can do to make remote work successful is to have a remote-first culture. Remote-first here means that regardless of how many employees are working remotely, the entire organization adopts practices and attitudes that fully embrace and support remote work. Sometimes that means the needs of remote workers trump the preferences of on-site workers. An example is holding a remote meeting where everyone sits in front of their own computer, rather than allowing in-person workers to gather in a conference room for the call. This change can unsettle executives and management, especially if they are entrenched in the old ways of working. What can I say? Change is often uncomfortable.
Culture is a broad term that encompasses everything about how people work together, how they communicate, the mood and level of formality among workers, and more. Here are a few specific things to look out for (or encourage) about your remote culture at work:
Overcommunication, i.e. everyone lives by the belief that it is better to repeat themselves and to explicitly and sometimes intentionally supersede information than to leave people with questions or feeling unsure if they heard a message.
Encouraging everyone to fully retire from work during their free time.
Norms for giving and receiving feedback.
Best practices for hosting remote meetings and collaborating, e.g. B. Making meetings available to everyone.
Support for asynchronous work, so as long as it suits your work and is reasonable, you and your colleagues should have the flexibility to work at different times.
((Photo credit: Getty/South_agency))
2. All the equipment you need for your work
If you are a full-time or part-time employee of an organization, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with the equipment you need to do your job effectively, comfortably, and safely. Gear doesn’t just mean a computer. This also includes the peripherals such as the monitor, mouse and keyboard, as well as the software you need to get your work done and some furniture.
You can request a new router if you need one, but check your contract first. It is common for remote organizations to state that internet connectivity is the employee’s responsibility, in which case a router would not be covered…although it never hurts to ask.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may need to ask for more, e.g. B. A telephone and personal number, a webcam, a microphone, headphones, a lamp or ring light, notebooks, pens, a printer and printer paper. What would you expect from your employer if you work locally? you should get Everyone the same deliveries.
Furniture can be a touchy subject if your business only went overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore doesn’t have many formal policies for covered and uncovered actions. A real chair should really be covered for seated work, and maybe a desk too. If not, ask for a back cushion, footrest, keyboard tray that attaches to your existing desk or table, and other accessories that would make your setup more comfortable.
For software, alongside the apps you need for your day-to-day work, your employer should provide you with a VPN to connect securely to their remote servers and generally keep your connection safe when you’re away from to home. Ideally, a company should also adopt enterprise password managers, antivirus software, and adequate training and support for their use.
3. Expert ergonomic advice
Most likely you are not an expert in ergonomics. The best remote organizations give employees access to advice and guidance on setting up an ergonomic home office. Ideally, it is a session with an ergonomics expert who will come to your home or remote workplace and customize your setup with you. This person can provide additional recommendations for the equipment you need and should certainly advise you on your posture, frequency of breaks and other issues related to your health and safety while on the job.
If personal ergonomics adjustment is not an option, your employer should provide you with other resources to help you do it yourself. Request a remote session with an expert or at least some documentation e.g. B. A video created by an ergonomics expert to guide you through a safe and effective setup.
4. Training for your job and career development
Your employer should provide you with the appropriate training that you need not only for your job but also for your professional development. This is true for both in-person work and remote work, but with remote work, where people literally see each other less often, training can be more easily overlooked or forgotten.
When it comes to receiving training, employees may need to do more for themselves than for other resources. Your boss will make sure you have a laptop, but he may never consider offering you training. Be willing to charge exactly what you want, list the cost and justify why you need it.
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Training can be formal, like your organization’s management track, or self-taught. What would help you do your job better or set you up for future success? What helps you to develop your career? Do you need to learn Photoshop or gain insight into people management? Would you benefit from a business writing or public speaking course? You can find all types of training online, from live classes to recorded video lectures from online learning sites. Find out what you want, decide when to take the training (during working hours) and ask your employer to pay for it.
5. Technical, logistic and social support
If your work computer broke, you would expect your employer to fix or replace it, right? When you work in person, your co-workers and boss will hear you complain about anything that’s broken, and in a large enough organization it’s usually pretty easy to find someone who can fix your problem. When working remotely, it can be difficult to figure out who to ask for help. It really is your employer’s responsibility to provide the names of people you can ask for help (ie not just any generic email address).
Employees can feel pressured to limp along with broken equipment or even problematic policies. Resist. You can’t work if you don’t have the support you need.
Social support may sound independent, but it is not. Being able to connect with colleagues is important to your success. We learn a lot just by talking to people, asking how work is going, and gaining insight into something as basic as the various benefit plans offered by an organization. That’s why employers need to provide remote workers with ways to connect. This could be the Water Fountain Slack channel or a monthly virtual happy hour, a book club, personal volunteer opportunities for groups, or something else. Whether or how much you participate is up to you. But the opportunity to do so must be readily available, created and supported by your employer.
Demand what you need
Certainly employees as individuals play a role when it comes to making remote work successful. But we should never minimize what rests on the employer’s shoulders. If your company doesn’t live up to its end of the bargain, there’s no way your efforts can overcome it.
I want remote workers to feel safe, that they can make demands of their employer, politely but firmly, and with an attitude that everyone has good intentions, even if they fall short. Many organizations have jumped into remote work without knowing anything about it or how to do it properly. Help them by telling them what you need from them to do your job well. If, after a few discussions, your employer is not ready to meet your needs, it may be time to consider other remote employment options.
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