How industry leaders can support remote working

In the current economic climate, remote working is turning from an occasional stint to long-term necessity. This creates organisational, administrative and individual challenges – but there are solutions out there to help you meet them.

Across the globe, businesses are responding to the current climate by switching to remote working at scale – but this is a major challenge, not just for business leaders, but for individuals across the network.

Your employees may find it disruptive, unsettling and stressful. You need to do all you can to help them adjust, establish normality and feel confident and happy. 

Reassure and motivate employees who are remote working

You need to ensure that you’re providing the support needed to give the most help to your remote workers. These three key areas a good place to start:

Social interaction

Communication is king. You need to make your presence felt across the network with regular interactions.

Encourage frequent dialogue between line managers and their teams to assess satisfaction and happiness in their working lives. Create forums and community groups to provide a platform for sharing ideas and providing feedback as well as enjoy some fun with work colleagues as they would in a normal office environment. Have your People teams provide guidance and advice on good working behaviours whilst at home. 

Overall, it’s vital to promote a message of support for health and wellbeing as providing this for the whole organisation is your number one priority. This will show to your people that despite the circumstances, they are most certainly not alone.

Setting collaborative goals

You as a business leader need to outline a clear vision for the organisation, share it with your teams and show them what their individual role within it is.

Group objectives and targets have always been a key motivator for employees. If they feel like they’re part of a team working towards something, they’ll be more productive – especially if they can see their own contribution to the collective effort.

And not only will they be more productive, but they’ll also feel less isolated through the additional contact with their colleagues – a vital factor in maintaining health and wellbeing.

Supporting a good work/life balance

One benefit to remote working is the greater flexibility it offers your people. Make sure they don’t think that, just because they’re not in the office, they have to sit at their laptop all day in case they’re needed. 

There are many added pressures created by the current climate. Not only are they working in unfamiliar environments, they may have to look after their children or loved ones. You must assure them that they have absolute freedom and total support to fit their work around these needs. 

And by allowing your employees a degree of autonomy over what they do, when they do it and who they do it with, you’ll motivate and empower them to work with their teams. 

So, encourage them to find a work/life balance that works for them, trust them to meet their responsibilities and try to support and understand their needs and initiatives.

The challenge facing business leaders

As individuals face their own challenges with remote working, so too does the wider organisation.

One difficulty lies in the ability to communicate with your teams. Emails and video conferencing have their limits, one-to-ones won’t feel the same and social interactions are reduced. But it’s crucial that leaders find a way to provide support and motivation.

Technology plays a significant part in this – but it’s a double-edged sword. It provides functions that make remote working more feasible, but also complicate life by making devices more complex.

Ask the right questions, analyse the needs of your employees and business, and find the technological solutions that work for you. Then you’ll maintain productivity and enable future growth. 

The questions you need to ask

These are tough questions to face up to, but doing so with an open mind will lead to long term benefits for your business:

  • Are we adhering to the latest government advice and regulations?
  • Is our IT infrastructure resilient to this sudden increased demand for remote working?
  • Do our employees have everything they need to work remotely effectively?
  • Do they have the necessary technical knowledge to use everything easily?
  • What business-critical processes do we normally undertake in an office location?
  • And does our IT team have the capabilities to provide support remotely?

Give each question due to diligence and work quickly to fill any gaps, or risk business continuity dropping.

Empower remote workers with technology

You might quickly discover that you may not have the right technology solutions in place to support effective remote working. So, what can you do? 

Long-term you can complete a detailed experiential audit of your existing IT infrastructure and make a plan for its review. But in the short term, you may need to make some quick adjustments in order to address the most immediate and challenging issues.

For instance;

  •   Can your people access online workspaces and documents?
  •   Are they restricted due to a poor VPN experience or connectivity issues?
  •   Is their device set up correctly for remote working?
  •   Do they still need access to printing for documents such as orders and contracts etc?
  •   Do they have the right digital tools to collaborate?

If you need help addressing any of these challenges, employ the expertise of a third-party company such as Ricoh – who offer a wide range of digital solutions, as well as insight into connecting with people and promoting collaboration. Also, working with leading technology vendors such as Microsoft means we can quickly deploy pre-configured devices such as Surface Pro 7’s and Surface Laptop 3’s ‘as-a-Service’ and on a monthly per-user plan with online support and assistance if needed.

Click to read Communication Services

The 3 R’s of remote working

When planning for mass remote working, focusing on these three principles will allow you to adapt, and leverage your teams individual and collective strengths.

Role Clarification 

Prioritise the development of clear boundaries and guidelines for what you expect from people in your organisation.

Clarifying roles and expectations will give your people a firm foundation from which to meet expectations and aspirations, manage their time, and understand their requirements.

Not only will this help keep people on track, but it will also prevent the more ambitious or hard-working individuals from becoming burned out.

Regular communication

The best leaders are those who listen, communicate with trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging and regularly reach out to their teams.

Ask these quick questions each week: How are you? What have you done? What are you working on? And where do you need help?

This allows individuals to take ownership of their habits and behaviours and make major leaps in productivity of their own accord.

Don’t forget, there are differences between individuals in how they’ll view the challenge – some will relish it; some will find it daunting.

Promote a message of accomplishment over activity and make sure that every individual is given the same opportunity and attention.

Retaining connections

Remote working makes maintaining personal connections more important than ever. 

Amidst today’s challenges, It’s easy to become overly focused on how you are going to deliver on various metrics for business success and delivery of work. But this would be a major mistake.

Think of innovative ways to provide ‘virtual water coolers’ – digital environments where your employees can talk about what they’re up to and express themselves. Collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams are ideal for this.

How Ricoh can help provide a smooth transition to remote working

Ricoh has a long history of empowering digital workplaces and optimising your people’s ability to perform both in the office and remotely. Our guide to Creating an Optimal Office provides practical guidance and advice to leaders and their key operational teams.

If you have any questions about the content of this article, or about how Ricoh can help you make the switch to remote working, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Rebekah Wallis

Board Director - People & Corporate Responsibility and Ricoh UK

Read all articles by Rebekah Wallis