Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019, there has been a dramatic rise in the proportion of employees working remotely. At first, this measure was introduced to safeguard employees from the risks of the virus and because of government-sanctioned lockdowns that restricted the movement of people to contain the pandemic. The trend of working remotely seems set to continue even once the pandemic has ceased to become a health hazard. Today, the popularity of remote working is growing. According to an Owl Labs study, globally 16% of companies work fully remotely and 55% of UK employees work remotely at least part of the time. Here are just three of the ways to improve remote working to ensure that it remains a productive and effective way to work.
Ensure that staff have the technology to work effectively
To work effectively from a remote setting, staff need a strong and reliable internet connection and suitable computers to enable them to complete their tasks. The practicality and portability of laptops makes them an ideal choice for remote working. Not only will they function well in a home office setting but are the perfect choice when on a train commute to in-person meetings. For example, 11 inch laptops are highly portable and tend to be lightweight, making them an ideal choice. For regular home office use these can be supplemented with an additional monitor screen to enable more effective multitasking with multiple windows visible. All organisations should have a means of video communication between teams such as Zoom or MS Teams, and these have been proven to be highly effective for virtual meetings during the pandemic, and beyond.
Promote the importance of effective working space
As well as the home office space needing to be comfortable it also needs to be safe to allow effective working. In the conventional office-based workplace the health and safety team will have ensured that display screen equipment (DSE) is set up correctly to allow good posture and minimise the risks of musculoskeletal problems developing after extended periods of working. For remote working these practices must be adhered to and employees should be required to complete a self-assessment of their remote office environment to ensure it meets health and safety requirements. Annual mandatory training can continue to promote the importance of a correct posture and a suitable workspace, and this training can be delivered remotely if required with online training modules.
Encourage staff to take regular breaks
When staff are working from home or at remote locations it can be easy to forget to take regular breaks from working. With the absence of a busy office employees can become overly focused on one task and suffer the effects of reduced concentration and productivity. In the UK, if employees work six hours or more, they are entitled to a twenty-minute uninterrupted break. This is considered the minimum required rest period. However, it makes sense to take a brief five-minute break for every hour spent at the desk. This ensures that working performance does not reduce during the day and staff can be more effective. Encourage staff to get up, stretch and walk around once an hour to improve their focus. Over longer periods of time this will reduce the risk of fatigue and burnout amongst remote working employees.