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It used to be that the majority of jobs were held inside of a physical office where workers would commute every day and sit in a cramped cubicle. The pandemic changed all of that when many companies were forced to either transition to a remote workforce or close their doors entirely in order to follow safety protocols. What started as an experiment has proven to be a success, and now it seems that remote work is here to stay.
There are many perks to working from home, including the lack of a commute and more time spent with family. However, there are some downsides. Employees could experience a lack of necessary office technology and inevitable feelings of isolation. The good news is that there are many remedies to these remote shortcomings that your company can implement today.
Tech and Office Space Limitations
One of the most important actions to take with a remote workforce is ensuring that each employee has the technology that they need to be as productive at home as they are when sitting in the office. This is a serious consideration, especially if you have a more diverse workforce. Many minority employees have less access to technology than others, so instead of telling employees to use their own equipment, your company should supply suitable electronics.
In addition to providing computers and keyboards, employees should also have a steady internet connection that allows them to work continuously without dropped connections. Since you want every employee to have the same fast internet, the company can either pay for their employees’ internet access or reimburse their teams every month for the cost of faster internet.
Another shortcoming that many employees face when they start working from home is the lack of a proper office environment. Some people may have a separate office in their home while others might live in apartments with very limited space. As an employer, you can give employees ideas for how they can make an office out of even the smallest spaces. For instance, the space under the stairs or in the corner of a bedroom can be enough to move about and operate comfortably. Management should reach out to employees to ask if they have a suitable work area so they can assist if necessary.
In addition to a comfortable chair and a proper desk or table to work on, there are other ways that remote employees can create a productive workspace. For instance, by opening the blinds and letting in the sunshine during the day, employees can clearly see their work and even find that they are able to accomplish more during the day. Also, employees who have organized homes can also work better. Clutter can make you feel like you don’t have control of your environment, and that likely won’t help anyone work better.
Another shortcoming that many remote workers face is that, without a standard office setup, there can be some health issues that develop over time. For instance, if an employee does not have a suitable chair, then they could start slouching more or straining their backs to sit up straight, which will negatively impact their work. Employers can remedy this issue by providing their staff with suitable chairs.
Employees who are working with limited desk space at home may also be prone to vision issues, including computer vision syndrome which can often develop when someone sits too close to their computer monitor and strains their eyes. The blue light that emits from a computer screen can also lead to eye strain and headaches. Management can help to remedy all of these issues by telling their employees to position their computer monitors at least 20 inches from their faces and to wear special blue light glasses to deter harmful exposure.
While physical health is important, so is a remote employee’s mental well-being — which can start to deteriorate if they work alone for long enough. While some people like the idea of working solo, others may start to feel isolated. In addition to causing ailments like depression, these unhealthy feelings can also hurt productivity.
The answer to this issue is to make sure that all remote employees feel included by having weekly collaborative meetings over video platforms like Zoom. In addition to business meetings, managers should make it a point to have a time each week where you allow everyone to log on and see each other face-to-face as you play a game or a team-building activity. Managing a remote workforce doesn’t have to be isolating. Managers should also inform their team that they have an “open-door” policy if anyone wants to talk about their feelings of isolation.
Cybersecurity Is a Concern
The other major concern about remote work is that employees don’t always know how to properly secure their home computers, and they can leave their networks open to the potential for cybercrime. If a remote employee does not protect their personal devices and they get a virus, they can then send an email from that computer to their work system — allowing the malware to make its way into the corporate network.
Employers can do a lot to combat this potential issue by educating their teams on common cybersecurity threats, including phishing emails and the possibility of downloading fake and malicious software. Hold a training session where you discuss these issues and the safeguards that employees can put in place to protect their personal data and the information of the customer. Your company could also take security a step further by providing your teams with antivirus software so they can scan for viruses and stop a threat in its tracks.
Companies should also do their part to protect their networks. Start by putting your data on cloud servers that will allow your employees to work from anywhere and still have access to the files they need. Cloud services should have security protocols so you know that your data is safe. Your company should also put a proper firewall in place and ensure that all employees have strong passwords so hackers cannot breach quite as easily.
In the end, while there are many shortcomings when it comes to remote work, there is a solution for just about every issue. Consider the tips mentioned here, and you can make this unique setup work.