Why remote work culture matters

Why remote work culture matters
Natalie Toniotti
Natalie Toniotti
    9 minute read

According to a study conducted by Upwork, it is estimated that by 2025, almost 22% of the workforce will be working remotely. With talent shortages and the cost of labour putting strain on businesses everywhere, adding remote work to job descriptions could attract an extra 59% of applicants who would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work compared to those who didn’t.

Why is remote work popular? In 2020, according to the aforementioned Upwork study, around 32% of business leaders found business productivity increased when employees worked from home. Stanford University supported these findings illustrating an increase in business performance by 22% when employees were remote. How? Employees were simply happier working from home. Less commute, more time with family - the reasons piled up.

In 2022, businesses are starting to welcome back employees into the office. Hybrid working models have gained popularity, but for those businesses interested in keeping or hiring part or all of their workforce remote, there is no harm in ensuring a healthy remote work culture is in place.

In this blog, we address the benefits a healthy remote work culture can bring to your business and what you can do to ensure you are fostering healthy remote work practices.

What is remote work culture?

Remote work culture is the combination of two terms: ‘remote work’ and ‘culture’. Remote work can refer to employees who work from home or anywhere that is considered outside of the standard or regular office workplace. This can include employees who are contracted to your business or employees you outsource through another. Remote work culture refers to the digital connectedness of employees within a business: how businesses ensure their employees feel like they belong and how employees share their experiences while working remotely.

What makes remote work culture so important? It all comes down to the employee satisfaction-productivity balance. Happier employees sell 20% more while 66% of employees would quit if they feel underappreciated. Here are some findings from a recent 2022 Workplace Happiness Report published by Indeed:

  • Around 20% of Australians say their workplace wellbeing is ‘low’
  • 25% of workers are currently looking for a new job as they are unhappy
  • 16% of employees don’t feel a sense of belonging at their business
  • 20% of workers don’t feel energised at work.

This report studied employed Australians currently working full-time and part-time positions; whether they were remote, hybrid or in-office was not measured. However, regardless the facts are the facts. Ensuring your teams, no matter their location, feel supported and valued is key to sustaining profits and achieving productivity goals.

What are the benefits of a positive remote work culture?

What happens if your business was to invest in establishing best practices that foster a positive remote work culture? A culture set around promoting employee happiness and engagement? According to Indeed's research:

  • 78% of employees would be more productive
  • 73% would be more engaging with problem-solving issues
  • 71% of workers would be less likely to call in sick
  • 56% of workers would complete tasks that aren’t part of their job description.

How to create a healthy remote work culture?

There is no better way to know where to start creating a healthy remote work culture than by understanding what factors have led employees to feel unhappy at their current workplace. This way, when creating your remote work culture framework, you can take care to account for these triggers illustrated in the following table:

B_Web_What factors create unhappy employees

With 92% of people expecting to work remotely at least one day per week and 80% expecting to work remotely at least 3 days per week post-COVID, establishing healthy workplace practices is essential to maintaining business productivity and a motivated workforce.

Here are six ways your business can implement an effective remote work culture:

1. Establish a foundation built on trust

A mentally unhealthy working environment costs Australia around $39 billion each year due to poor resulting participation and productivity. Employees want to trust that their businesses and leaders will look after them. In the remote workplace, having trust that your employees are working efficiently without you physically being there to check is a great place to start as 33% of employees feel a sense of trust at work when they are not being micromanaged.

Having leaders who feel approachable and creating an environment where employees can collaborate freely and safely with senior team members is essential in developing trust within remote teams. Encourage one-on-one sessions with leaders and their individual remote team members over a digital communication platforms to get feedback on what can be improved within the company. What is working for them? What they would like to see done better? What value can be added to their remote working environment? If employees would rather remain anonymous submitting feedback, consider employee satisfaction surveys or a dedicated HR inbox that is managed in a way that ensures employee concerns are not missed.

2. Re-assess your onboarding processes

When hiring new remote team members, whether that be recruiting directly or through an outsourcing provider, making sure your hiring process is efficient will result in better quality hires and candidates with the right skills to be efficient in their roles.

Did you know while 72% of hiring managers believe their job descriptions are clear and simple, 36% of candidates think otherwise? Re-assessing your onboarding process could involve:

  • Reviewing job descriptions to ensure they are concise and straightforward
  • Setting clear expectations for the recruitment process
  • Optimise your application processes for mobile and limit the amount of questions candidates must answer (save these for the interview)
  • Improve your interview process by keeping questions appropriate and relevant to remote work standards.

What actions would make employees happier at work?

  • 30% of employees want extra pay if they work extra hours
  • 27% want more days off from work
  • 23% would prefer a more flexible work schedule
  • 19% state an increase in work resources would help make their job easier
  • 18% want tasks to be allocated fairly
  • 18% would prefer better and improved communication amongst teams.

3. Adjust your business mission and values to line up with remote work

Review what your company’s mission statement is and make sure that is applicable to employees who work in-office, in a hybrid model or remotely. Try and incorporate terms such as ‘digital’ or ‘a connected workforce’ to illustrate that no matter where employees are, they are still part of one team.

This free checklist is your comprehensive guide to transitioning to a hybrid work model.

Make sure that is well understood what ‘flexible’ or ‘remote’ work means in the business. Do you require your remote employees to work the same hours as your in-office employees? Are they able to determine their own hours and if so, how is this communicated with other team members to avoid miscommunication and projects being put on hold?

4. Schedule team-building exercises

Culture in the workplace involves having your teams feel connected; operating as one unit aiming to achieve the same goal. You don’t want your remote employees to feel like strangers, working on the outskirts of the company, slaving away for little to no purpose.

Team-building activities over digital platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams can introduce your remote employees to each other or even to other workers within the company. Putting a face to a name can foster a sense of belonging and have your employees wanting to do well to help their colleagues.

5. Consider alternative resourcing solutions

Outsourcing providers are experts in remote work. A business that engages in outsourcing of any kind is hiring remote employees; outside of the business and not (likely) working nearby. Depending on the type of outsourcing model you decide to go with, if you are relying on your outsourcing provider to manage employee productivity and workforce management, then they too are responsible for establishing an effective remote workplace.

The benefits of hiring offshore remote workers include:

  • Reduced costs: outsourcing can save your business money by having day-to-day tasks completed in a lower-cost economy, where employment costs are up to 70% less.
  • Expert support: outsourcing providers are experts in providing insights and advice at each stage of the outsourcing process. Their expert advice can help your business get the best out of your outsourcing journey and ensure it is optimised for success.
  • Improve business flexibility and availability: outsourcing can help your business become more agile and flexible by opening up 24/7 availability.
  • Business growth: outsourcing can free up funds that can be used to reinvest back into the growth of your business. With the additional support of an offshore team member(s), you can increase the capacity for your business to take on more work.
  • Improved staff satisfaction rates: outsourcing can help you to identify roles and tasks that would be best suited to send to an offshore employee. That way, your local team can focus on what they do best and what motivates them, improving job satisfaction for employees in the long run.

6. Offer training and development programs

Any successful business would tell you how important it is to keep your employees upskilled. You know the saying ‘if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room?’ This applies to your remote team. You should always be encouraging them to think outside box and where they want to progress within the business. Just because they are not onsite, doesn’t mean they can’t add more value than what they are producing now.

The learning and development industry is expected to hit $402 billion by 2025 and 33% of employees feel appreciated when they receive training to further develop their careers. If you’re not offering training opportunities to your remote employees, you risk losing valuable remote employees and not attracting quality candidates.

What does a day in the life of an outsourced employee look like?

Remote work and outsourcing are one and the same if your employees are working outside of your usual business location. So keeping in mind the need to foster a healthy remote work culture, how can you be so sure that your outsourced employees are getting that same consideration? What’s it like for them?

One of the most popular questions in outsourcing is: what’s in it for me? And rightly so. What are the benefits of outsourcing from an employer's perspective? Why should my business invest in an offshore team? How can I get outsourcing right? Why is the Philippines a top outsourcing destination? What are the advantages of outsourcing?

But with emerging employee engagement trends shining a spotlight on the value of employee engagement more than ever, the question we should ask is: what’s in it for the employee? How is my outsourcing investment benefiting my outsourced employees? How can I improve their employee experience to deliver better results?

In this blog, ‘A day in the life of an outsourced employee’ we address the benefits of outsourcing from an outsourced employee's perspective and explore what an average day in the life might look like.

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