It's no secret that now more than ever, on-site employees are planning their shift to full or part-time remote work. The 2019 State of Remote Work report found that 42% of remote workers in the U.S. plan to work remotely more frequently than they currently do in the next five years, and more than half of on-site workers want to start working remotely. This transition has the potential to be a stressful experience for those employees making this move, but it doesn't have to be.

By using a variety of tools and resources, team leaders and managers can successfully support employees who are transitioning to remote work or working from home. The transition takes some adjustment, so its important to communicate to them that their role as remote employees is just as essential to the success of the company as when they worked on-site. Keep reading for our best tips on how to best support your employees as they move from in-office work to working from home.

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As your employees make the transition to remote work or working from home, you'll also adapt how you manage them. On-site management styles don't often translate directly to remote team management, so managing your new remote employees is an entirely new skill set that you'll need to develop.

1. Clearly define your remote work policies.

In the midst of the remote work boom, managers may have the resources to hire remote workers but don't yet have the policies in place to support them. Enthusiasm for transitioning to remote work is enough to get the ball rolling, but the policies and procedures in place for remote teams are necessary to define both employee and management expectations. This will help you avoid poorly organized rollouts where some teams have more freedom than others and you risk losing employees.

The specifics of your company's remote work policies will depend on your remote team sizes, responsibilities, and needs. However, a standard remote work policy will need to address team availability, communication tools, data security and management, and remote progress tracking.

Having trouble creating your remote work policy? Check out our free templates and guide for the motivation and inspiration to get you started.

2. Prepare the necessary remote work tools.

Employee self-sufficiency is the backbone of strong remote work teams, but they can't be productively self-sufficient without the necessary tools. Before your employees transition from on-site to remote work, the following tools should be in place to support them.

  • Communication tools: Remote communication starts with the appropriate tools and is supported by a strong remote communication culture. Tools that offer real-time messaging such as Slack and tools that are equipped with video chat are necessary to make the switch to remote work without losing the benefits of in-person communication.
  • Management tools: Strong project management and organization is necessary for remote work productivity. Cloud-based management tools will be your remote team's best friend when it comes to community access to files and project resources. Cloud-based tools such as Trello and Basecamp are fan favorites amongst new remote workers.
  • Security tools: Shifting to remote work means that employees will no longer be strictly using your company WiFi network, but their personal or public networks. Therefore, the need for a security policy is a big one. Cloud-based information storage platforms like Box are helpful for storing sensitive information remotely.

3. Help your managers, help your remote employees.

This employee remote work shift also has a large effect on the day-to-day operations of your managers, so it is important to support these managers in order for them to best support their remote teams. One way to help your managers is to bring them into the collaboration process when it comes to outlining your remote work policy and choosing the aforementioned necessary tools. For more tips on how to manage remote employees, we have you covered with our comprehensive guide to remote management.

4. Use video conferencing tools during the transition.

When your employees have successfully completed their transition to remote work they will be using video at a much higher frequency than previously necessary. Video competency may not come as second nature to your new remote workers, by using video conferencing and chat features during the transition you'll be pre-training your remote employees before the big shift happens. This pre-training shouldn't be reserved for video chatting, but for all remote tools that will be introduced during the transition to hybrid or remote work.

Bonus tip: The earlier you test-run your remote tools and video features, the earlier you'll be notified if there are connectivity issues or bug-fixes with the remote team software and applications.

5. Ask your employees for feedback throughout the process.

The best way to find out how your employees are coping and adjusting to the changes is to ask them. Provide plenty of opportunities for your employees to share their opinions and needs, both anonymously or to the group. Use software like TINYpulse or host a virtual town hall-style meeting where everyone has a voice and can express how they are feeling or where you can improve. Maybe one of your employees in another time zone can never attend the monthly team meeting, or a team member doesn't have a good enough WiFi connection at home and is always lagging on video chats. Address these concerns early, and your future teams will thank you.

6. Make sure your company culture supports remote employees.

Finally, the most important aspect of supporting your employees on their move from on-site to remote work is the maintenance of company culture. Shifting to remote work is no small feat, and should be celebrated as well as recognized as a progressive move toward a more inclusive and expansive company culture. A disconnect with company culture is one of the top reasons why employees leave their positions, and when a change in the office happens as impactful as employees moving from on-site to remote work company culture can be strained to accommodate for the change.

As long as managers and team leaders stay on top of the shift by leading with positivity and an intentional upholding of company culture then the shift from on-site to remote work should be nothing short of a success.

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