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How to Make Remote Work for Your Business

When Leo Tolstoy began his novel, Anna Karenina with the line, “All happy families are alike,” he wasn’t kidding...and he wasn’t just talking about families. The so-called “Anna Karenina” principle, which holds that successful organizations and endeavors have in common certain essential qualities (whereas failure occurs in myriad ways), has been said to apply not only to families but to all organized structures --from microbiomes1 to the stock market2. It applies equally to company culture as well. So what do all successful businesses have in common?

Hint: it’s a trick question

You wouldn’t be wrong to say that all successful businesses have happy customers. However, happy customers are only possible with happy employees. Happy employees drive growth, empower innovation, and engender creativity in the workplace.3 And what do all employees want? Well, a good 99% of them want to be able to work remotely at least some of the time, according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report. Luckily, Buffer also found that 91% of business owners support remote work, which, of course, means that 91% of businesses must be successful, right?

Yeah, no. So, what’s with the disconnect? According to Mark Fairchild, Smart Office president, the disconnect happens between supporting remote work and actually having the infrastructure to make remote work...work. In a recent article for Chief Executive, Mark offers three key best practices for supporting remote work:

Keep the lines of communication open

Did you know that only 40% of American workers think email is an effective form of communication? The overuse of email as the primary communication tool among employees has resulted in more than half of all professionals experiencing increased stress levels and nearly half missing project deadlines. “If your company hasn’t updated its means of internal daily communication, this is your next step,” writes Mark, who recommends using:

- Internal chat tools, which can help employees track down their mobile colleagues more quickly

- Video-conferencing platforms, which make face-time possible even remotely

- Document-sharing platforms to permit easy (but secure) access to data

Here is how Exela empowers global, mobile teams with secure, high-speed communications, including text messaging, video chat, web conferencing, file sharing, and mass notification capabilities.

Take training digital

“Once your company has the digital workflows in place to allow for remote work, you need to think about how you can effectively train new employees from virtually anywhere in the world,” Mark advises. “For onboarding and employee certification and retraining, digitized training tools offer significant value.” Such tools are in use within Exela (I used them in onboarding and continue to do so for periodic training). We make them available to our customers as well. Our Learning and Development solutions offer the ability to plan, publish, and deliver self-paced online courses for employees to keep them up to date on the latest information and certifications.

Manage your space

Although increasing your remote workforce reduces the need for fixed desk assignments, that doesn’t let you off the hook with regard to maintaining a positive, engaging physical space. In fact, a full 83% of employess surveyed by Buffer expressed a preference for working in the office at least some of the time. “Managing real estate with a varying occupancy rate can be challenging,” Mark notes. One of those challenges is in predicting facility usage needs. Outfitting facilities with sensors powered by the Internet of Things offers a viable solution, providing real-time occupancy details as well as long-term analytical reports to help effectively manage office space.

“As physical location becomes less relevant to business operations, digital communication and collaboration solutions will continue to grow more vital,” Mark concludes. “Companies that embrace this trend will have many new opportunities to save money, attract the best talent and increase productivity overall — now and into the future.”

  1. https://science.oregonstate.edu/IMPACT/2017/08/anna-karenina-principle-unhappy-microbiomes
  2. https://realmoney.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/the-stock-market-and-the-anna-karenina-principle-15075703
  3. https://www.tlnt.com/the-next-great-employee-benefit-a-better-office/