The remote work revolution is just beginning. While the current pandemic may have prompted it, there’s little doubt it’s here to stay.
We’ve seen just how many jobs can be successfully shifted to remote work, with no loss in productivity. The results have spanned multiple industries and disciplines, including law, governance, and education. Some sectors have surged in popularity, such as e-commerce, home fitness, business and finance websites, and online trading of via gamified applications.
The only question remaining is: How do you as a business owner or manager successfully adjust to this revolution in progress?
Below, we’ll look at how to restructure your workforce to this new remote-work environment without negatively impacting your company. The key is identifying which jobs and job functions workers can perform effectively in a remote setting.
How to Know If a Job Can Be Remote
Many job functions, and whole jobs, do not require the worker being located on-site. For instance, any work performed on a computer, such as research, analysis, and communication, can just as easily be performed in remote settings as in in-person ones. In some cases, it can be performed better.
Creative and critical collaborative work can function fluidly with the help of videoconferencing. Many many legal and accounting functions can translate to the remote environment with relative ease. Much managerial work, like project managers and sales managers, don’t require an on-site presence or in-person interactions to function effectively.
Other jobs and functions that workers can perform remotely include any work that involves:
- Writing, editing, and preparing presentations
- Computer coding and programming
- Designing user interfaces for SaaS products for B2B, B2C, and individual use.
- Conducting telephone surveys, telemarketing, and providing customer support.
Beyond these remote-workable positions and functions are many others you can find by examining your workplace and industry from a few certain angles.
Determine Which Jobs Cannot Be Remote
One way to determine which jobs can be remote is to identify those jobs that cannot be remote. Any job, for instance, that requires in-person interactions, such as positions involving physically attending to patients, operating specialized machinery, or working with sensitive materials would not work in a remote environment.
Other jobs and functions that workers cannot perform remotely include any work:
- Involving physical contact with goods, such as shipping and receiving or food service
- Requiring a public presence, such as transportation jobs, like cabbies, bus drivers, crossing guards, flight attendants, and toll-booth collectors
- Demanding high security, such as a bank officer or prison guard.
Are You Already Partly Remote-Working?
Perhaps the first question to ask when assessing how your company can transition to remote work is whether you’re already part way there.
Are your workers performing certain tasks remotely already? Perhaps a worker needed to stay home to attend to an elderly parent and found that he or she could still take care of certain work duties without interruption. If so, what are they?
Perhaps a worker is recovering from surgery or homeschooling a child whose school has tentatively shut down, yet still remains on the clock? What’s working about this arrangement and what could be working better?
Use your current instances of remote-work, even if minimal, to help you start ascertaining what types of work can best be performed remotely and what types may be more challenging in that setting?
How Are Your Competitors Adapting to Remote Work?
If you’ve noticed your competitors starting to make the shift to remote work, then you may already be behind the curve. It’s no matter, however. You can make up lost time by learning from their successes and mistakes.
Managing Remote Workers Effectively
Just because workers aren’t present on-site, doesn’t mean they don’t need to be managed. Remote workers need to be managed. They don’t necessarily need as much management. But they will definitely need a different kind of management.
To best manage a remote workforce:
- Be clear about expectations, guidelines, boundaries, and deadlines.
- Remain flexible with your workers while being organized to keep track of everyone’s responsibilities.
- Adapt meetings to be briefer and more focused so as to account for the unique challenges of meeting remotely like distractions and technology issues.
- Allow your workers to create their own schedules so long as they align with your larger deadlines and needs.
- Check-in regularly to see how everything is going with each remote worker and ask if there’s any help you could provide.
- Welcome feedback.
- Promote collaboration, taking advantage of collaboration software, apps, and online services to help workers bridge physical gaps.
- Honor accomplishments so workers can still feel a sense of community and pride in their successes.
Tax, Regulatory, and Legal Considerations
Remote work does present some logistical considerations to be aware of. If, for example, one of your remote workers is situated in a different municipality, state, or country, this could trigger a new corporate tax presence in that area.
You could also run into tax issues prompted by new worker classifications. Be sure you’re aware of the legal and tax distinctions between independent contractors and employees federally and in your area. You don’t find yourself responsible for noncompliance penalties, back taxes, or backdated employee benefits, among other potential liabilities. Remember: just because someone works remotely does not mean they aren’t employees.
Other possible regulatory concerns to be aware of include applicable immigration procedures and data security protocols.
Most important to remember when considering how to adapt your workplace to a remote-work environment (even partially) is that you can do it however you want. There is no singular fixed way to do it right, only what’s right for you, your company, and your workers. Take all three into account in every decision you make as you progress forward with your restructuring plans. And always be flexible enough to make course corrections along the way as they become necessary.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for the business community. But it has also provided us all new options. Now is the time to adapt your workforce to accommodate your company and workers so everyone thrives in whatever climate comes next.
Figure out which jobs and job functions workers can perform effectively in remote settings by seeing where your company and others are already doing it and by breaking down job titles into their individual functions.