Remote working isn’t about sitting at home watching X-Factor re-runs whilst you do just enough to appear busy. It is about changing your environment, experience and perspective to achieve a better outcome. For me there are two main agendas:
- working outside of the office to focus or avoid distraction
- working in a transformational environment to improve productivity, stimulate connectivity, collaboration, creativity and innovation
The most important benefit of both is that we can improve our quality of life and outcomes. Remote working is becoming fundamental to professional and personal success. However, both large and small organisations still struggle to make it work for them.
Whilst we have the technology to work remotely, cultural and strategic factors are usually the barriers to making remote working a success.
I work at a business builder called The Sandpit and I am responsible for helping startups and brands achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and growth. All of the startups and the central Sandpit team work remotely to some extent. Earlier in the year, I needed to work remotely in Cornwall and Hampshire for short periods of time. At both locations I had solid internet connectivity, and a space to focus although I wasn’t in professional only environments.
In both instances my outcomes, productivity, and wellbeing improved. When I returned to work in HQ in the Strand London, I was more motivated and felt the productivity benefits of the remote sessions I had.
Fairness is one of our main brand tenets and whilst we don’t actively promote remote working, if remote working is fair then it is nurtured. Here’s how The Sandpit and our startups are making it work and you can too:
Set Culture from the Top
If you offer remote working solutions to only pockets of your team then those allowed to remote work should and will feel guilty and those that can’t will probably feel that they are working in an inequitable organization A form of remote working needs to be available to everyone for true success.
Trust Your Team
You must trust your team and yourself to deliver the work. If you don’t trust your team and yourself then remote working is the least of your problems. Those that feel trusted enough to work remotely are more motivated and productive. If you aren’t yet fully comfortable with either working remotely yourself or offering it to your team, start small by working from a coffee shop or local shared work space.
Remote Working Mums & Dads
A number of the team at The Sandpit are mothers and fathers and this often gets overlooked in business. Remote working gives the flexibility to work productively whilst also allowing a balance in both family and professional lives. The team feels happy and fulfilled on a personal, family, and professional level and is more productive and motivated because of it.
Value is as Important as Time
Don’t pay people to be in the office, pay them to do their jobs. Time is an important metric, however measuring the value that people deliver and outcomes they achieve is often overlooked. Looking at the value delivered, as well as the time it takes to deliver that value, is an effective way to manage your work. It is also much easier to manage up and down when working remotely. It also starts to break the fallacy of presenteeism (to be seen is to be working). You can start to test this by having remote working ‘sprints’ around particular tasks or time periods.
Ensuring that everyone understands where everyone else is and whether they are available or not, ensures that people aren’t doing guess work but also sets expectations. Our team shares general whereabouts and movements at the beginning of week so that everyone knows where people are.
Alignment of Purpose
Make sure that everyone who works in your team is clear on the purpose of your organisation and buys into it or shares it. This gets harder as you get bigger but for a startup it should drive the growth of your business. Having a clear purpose makes it much easier for remote workers to make better decisions.
Attract & Retain Talent
Remote working arrangements are one of the most desired benefits of new and old generations. A great remote working policy and offer will help you attract and retain the world's best talent.
Don’t just Remote Work
To remote work well you also have to blend it with office working. Don’t miss these fantastic opportunities to work with the HQ teams, meet with clients, visit more locations, and interact with colleagues.
Test and use the remote working tools that work for you and your team. We use a blend of tools to work remotely effectively including Slack, Asana, Google Docs, Pipedrive, Skype, Hangouts and Trello, to name just a few.
These elements enable our employees to continue working to the same capacity irrespective of whether they are in the office or not, and in some cases, perform better. There are loads of reasons to develop a pro-remote working culture at your business and plenty of data to show remote working makes you happier and more productive. There are also some circumstances when you shouldn’t offer remote work or when remote working isn’t suitable - a blend is key.
Ben Cheston is a Portfolio Growth Director at The Sandpit. The Sandpit is a business builder for startups focused on B2B marketing technology. We provide hands-on business growth and operational support so that tech founders can focus entirely on perfecting their product and service. If you’d like to know more about The Sandpit, please visit the TheSandpit.com.
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