Among many things, both infamous and otherwise, 2020 will be remembered as the year the travel sector pivoted to working remotely. Moving into 2021, companies will need to optimize the remote working experience for their teams.
Well before the pandemic, many companies started experimenting with offering one or two work-from-home days a week, especially for employees with long commutes. In 2020, working from home became a five-day-a-week way of life for almost half of the workforce. According to a study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 44 percent of the U.S. labor force was working from home by June. Even late-night talk show hosts were doing their monologues from home.
Part of any employer’s responsibility is helping their employees feel engaged, secure and productive, but how can they do that in today’s remote working environment? To help us answer this question, SkiftX spoke with Rodrigo Furtado, senior solutions consultant with Rescue by LogMeIn, whose new visual engagement tool creates a frictionless experience and empowers support teams to be “in the room” with employees and customers.
ENGAGING REMOTE EMPLOYEES AND KEEPING THEM HEALTHY
It’s very easy to wake up in the morning, look at your phone, get up, and start working at 6 a.m., but that may not be the healthiest way to separate your work life from your private life.
“I like to prepare myself the same way I would if I were going to an office, with a shower, a coffee outside or in the garage, and then breakfast, before I come back to my desk and I’m ready to work,” Furtado said. “When I finish work, I may even change my clothes, because I’m creating that separation: I’m not working anymore.”
Furtado also suggested keeping meetings short and focused to reduce time spent in front of the screen. “As the day goes on, people tend to get meeting fatigue,” Furtado said. “For me, the top thing to keep in mind is screen hygiene. If you can book a meeting for 30 minutes, don’t book it for an hour. Getting back an extra 15 to 30 minutes per meeting a day can add up to extra hours you don’t need to stare at your screen.”
Encourage your employees to take breaks, go for walks, or talk to family members. It’s okay, and even healthy, to switch off completely in the middle of the day. It may be helpful to think of the work day in a more non-linear way.
“In our solutions consulting team, we have our Tuesday lunch and learn talks, and most of them are not work-related at all,” Furtado said. “One of our team members will share something interesting. I’m a professional magician, for example. I’ve been doing magic my entire life, and a lot of people didn’t know, so it was great to share a few tricks. We’ve also had people talk about how to brew beer or cider, or share their passion for electric bikes.”
COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE, AND SUPPORT – SECURELY
For companies, one of the biggest challenges of managing a remote workforce is creating a secure digital environment, especially when the company doesn’t control all aspects of the physical environment. Most employees use their own internet, which makes them vulnerable for everything, and that’s what these tools need to be secure, with the right password control and two-factor authentication.
In order to move forward with the right capabilities for remote working, companies need to consider these three pillars:
- You need to be able to communicate and collaborate
- You need to be able to support your employees in a frictionless way
- And you need to do all of these things securely – so you need a good password manager, identity provider, and tools like GoToMeeting, Rescue, and LastPass to give you peace of mind.
ESTABLISH A VIRTUAL SUPPORT TEAM
According to Furtado, one of the most important things companies can do to optimize the remote working experience for their teams is to look after the work environment. Employers need to support their employees the way they would in the office, not only with financial support for their workspace setup and equipment, but also with mental and psychological support.
“I’m from Brazil, and my mother lives there,” Furtado said, “and sometimes she needs help with her computer or TV, and I have the tools right here at LogMeIn to support her remotely. Just because we know how to plug in an HDMI cable behind our monitors doesn’t mean everybody knows, and it doesn’t mean we are smarter than them. Some people have very simple setups, and we just need to be there to support them to ensure they’re plugging in their monitor or their headset correctly.”
With a new visual engagement tool from Rescue, employees can click a single link to start sharing their camera with one of Rescue’s technicians. On the other side, the technician can freeze the camera, do annotations, and show “this is where you want to click” or “press this button and then plug in the cord here.”
“We can show them like we’re in the room, helping them in person,” Furtado said. “Because it’s such an easy tool to use, the only thing they need to do is click on the link. This tool has helped customers all over the globe, including British Telecom. For example, they’re using our technology to help internet broadband customers when they have issues with their routers. It saves a lot of time.”
REMEMBER, REMOTE WORKING IS NOT WHAT YOU’RE DOING NOW
People imagine that working from home means working the way they have so far in 2020, with kids at home competing for their attention, but things will change when the pandemic is over. The lockdown mindset isn’t necessarily the “new normal.” Kids will go back to school. You’ll be able to move around more freely.
“For companies considering whether or not to move full-time to remote working, my advice is to wait and make a decision after everything goes back to normal,” Furtado said. “That’s the only way to truly see all the benefits of remote working.
“I see more flexibility in the future. Moving into 2021, I believe the way we’re going to go is hybrid. People still want and need human contact. When we’re not in a pandemic and everyone can travel, I may want to work a few days at home and then call a colleague and meet up at a coffee shop to collaborate, or I may want to spend a couple days in the office.”
This hybrid model can also make it easier for companies to hire because their talent pool expands and they can find qualified people that aren’t tied to a commute, and cutting out that commuting time can boost productivity, not to mention its positive impact on the environment.
“Companies are starting to realize that their employees are happier when they have the option to work from home,” Furtado said. “Even before the pandemic, they started realizing tere’s space for those who want to work from 9 to 5 in an office, but there’s also space for people who don’t want to go in every day.”