As we finally get to a place where the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be winding down (or at least toward endemic status), many businesses are reassessing their emergency work-from-home plans.
If you opened up to remote and/or hybrid work for the first time due to the pandemic, your teams might be wondering what’s next. Maybe you’re wondering that yourself! Do your teams hate working from home, or do they love it? Are they eager to come back to the office, or will they quit if you require it?
We’ll provide some key answers here, plus top strategies for supporting your at-home or hybrid workers long-term.
Desire for Remote and Hybrid Work Has Never Been Stronger
So, what do your employees want? Polling your employees can offer insights, of course. But some might be reticent to tell you how they really feel. And there’s already some good research out there that can give you a hint about what they’re thinking.
According to a wide-ranging FlexJobs survey conducted in summer 2021, an astounding 58% of non-frontline workers indicate they want a full-time remote position, and another roughly 39% want a hybrid option.
Accounting for some rounding, that means that more than 95% of workers surveyed want the ability to work from home (or somewhere outside the office) at least some of the time.
If the work you do can be done remotely, chances are that a decent percentage of your team wants the ability to do so—at least some of the time.
Tips for Supporting Permanent At-Home and Hybrid Workers
If you’re embracing a long-term strategy that includes full-time remote or hybrid work, now is the perfect time to take stock of how you’re supporting your remote team members. Consider taking the following steps if you haven’t already (or revisiting them to make sure that each area is still running smoothly).
1. Review Your Data Security Practices
Remote work can open up businesses to more digital risk. Smaller businesses with fewer resources to devote to data security tend to be at greater risk here in general, and the same is true in the context of remote work.
Insecure home Wi-Fi networks, unmanaged devices on those networks, devices already compromised with malware, and other threats can be even more dangerous for your business when you open up your network to remote connections. VPN service is a good first step, though there are other strategies and approaches that can keep your data even more secure in a remote work environment. Your IT partner can help you explore and implement these.
2. Invest in the Right Collaboration Tools
There are all sorts of powerful collaboration tools available to support at-home and hybrid workers, including several within Microsoft 365. Teams is a great place to start, and you also might want to check out Yammer, SharePoint, Bookings, and more.
3. Provide the Right Hardware Tools to Power Remote Productivity
Third, make sure that members of your at-home and hybrid workforce have the tools they need to communicate well with their teammates, staying present and productive no matter where they work. In most contexts, this starts with high-quality webcams and better microphones. Even a basic USB headset microphone will produce drastically better audio quality on Teams calls and other collaborative work than a computer’s built-in microphone.
4. Ensure At-Home Conditions Are Safe and Compliant
Last, make sure that your at-home employees are working in conditions that are both safe and compliant. In most states, if an at-home employee gets injured on the job (including RSI) while at home, the employer is still on the hook for costs associated with that care.
Ensuring this compliance can be done through a self-service checklist, where employees must verify a range of safety measures are in place.
For help with any of the IT-related concerns mentioned here, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here and ready to help.