Working from a remote location has become the norm for over a decade now, with remote work being a prevalent option. Nowadays, workplaces can be situated near homes and are furnished with all the essential tools required. However, ten years ago, it was an unusual concept, and those who opted to work remotely were pioneers.
Sharon Koifman, the pioneer behind the establishment of Works, was deemed a risk-taker when he ventured into an entirely remote business setup a decade ago. Although he faced initial hurdles, he eventually gained momentum and made his mark.
Sharon’s book on ‘Surviving Remote Work’ was published in 2023 and has recently been launched as an audiobook, which provides a fantastic chance for individuals who favour this medium to get hold of the quintessential guide to remote work.
Although this book targets individuals in manager or leadership positions who work remotely, it also has a segment devoted to aiding those who work from home to be productive and efficient, while ensuring a favourable work-life balance.
The book highlights some of the key takeaways, which are:
Familiarise yourself with the essence of your remote work.
One of the initial topics in the book, covered by Sharon, is remote work. The book aims to rectify the misconception that remote workers work while lounging on a beach or that remote work only entails hiring individuals at low wages.
Remote working and freelancing are often used interchangeably, yet they are distinct concepts. Managers should keep this in mind while recruiting remote workers.
It’s astounding that some businesses are still hesitating to recruit new employees for remote roles. This reluctance may be due to managers’ inclination to micromanage, causing anxiety at the prospect of not being able to monitor their team in a traditional office setup.
If you can relate to this idea, you may still have a vague understanding of the process involved in recruiting remote workers.
A remote worker is an employee who works off-site and performs the same tasks as their in-house counterparts. However, many conventional businesses may inadvertently treat their remote employees as if they are isolated from the rest of the team. Sharon elaborates on this, saying…
Avoid being inconsiderate, or you may destroy your business.
Avoid adopting the roles of both a “bad policeman” and a “good cop” in the workplace, as it can erode cultural and moral values.
There’s a prevalent belief that fear can be employed as an effective managerial tact to improve productivity. The idea that the fear of losing one’s job motivates people to work longer hours is widespread, however, its effectiveness remains doubtful.
Evaluating the amount of work put forth by remote staff members can be challenging. Utilising aggressive behaviour to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation is an ineffectual management tactic that can result in employee burnout and decreased productivity.
Sharon cited a British study that revealed an increase in employee turnover when managers treated their team unfairly. It has been suggested that when employees don’t feel appreciated for their hard work, they are less likely to remain in their current roles.
You might think “Who cares if they’re nervous and unable to keep pace with me? It’s not my problem.”
I’m sorry, that’s not how things work.
Frequent employee turnover rates can have negative effects on a company’s morale and financial stability. According to a recent UK survey, 15% of workers resigned due to a negative working environment. If a company has a thousand employees, this equates to 97 individuals, necessitating over $2 million worth of replacements.
The Importance of Building Relationships
Culture is a topic that’s gaining more attention these days. A cursory search on platforms such as LinkedIn or Google would show that many people describe culture in ways that seem to be lifted directly from textbooks. Nevertheless, in reality, gaining an all-encompassing understanding of culture through study alone is impossible. It is fundamental to obtain firsthand knowledge and experience of a culture.
In her book ‘Surviving Remote Work,’ Sharon Koifman thoroughly explores the concept of remote work. The chapter includes several enlightening explanations, but the most crucial insight comes from Koifman’s 15+ years of experience as the founder of a remote recruitment company and as a remote worker, which she shares in the book.
Be Honest When Expressing Your Anger
It’s important to recognise that there’s a clear distinction between expressing anger and acting like a jerk. Some managers may choose to adopt a more assertive approach, while others may prefer a more laid-back approach.
There is a common belief that leaders should never exhibit emotions such as anger or disagreement. However, it’s crucial to understand that productive disagreement does not involve lashing out in fury or rebuking team members for their perceived shortcomings. Instead, creating a space where divergent opinions can be expressed without any personal attacks fosters constructive conflict, resulting in creative ideas to enhance workflow efficiency.
According to Sharon, leaders have a responsibility to foster constructive debate within remote teams. To cultivate workplace diversity and stimulate employees to think creatively, it is crucial to take into account a wide variety of viewpoints.
Routine is Key to Success
Switching to remote work can boost productivity by reducing distractions. Nevertheless, success is not guaranteed – the correct technology and approaches must be selected and implemented to achieve the desired results. Numerous research studies have shown that remote employees are more likely to remain focused on their work.
To be productive, remote workers must establish fixed work routines. If you’ve only ever worked in an office, transitioning to remote work can be daunting. While the lack of direct supervision may feel liberating, it’s essential not to let this lead to lax work habits. Remote work doesn’t change the need to complete tasks on time and deliver quantifiable outcomes, so it’s vital to carve out dedicated work hours.
Sharon initially struggled with his smartphone gaming addiction affecting his productivity. However, he has since realised the benefits of having a fixed routine, which has allowed him to better manage his work, rest, and personal engagements. Thus, establishing a predictable schedule is the most effective way to overcome distractions and achieve goals.
Everyone Must Prioritise Information Security
When contemplating outsourcing work, entrepreneurs must have assurance that their data is safe. They must ponder questions like ‘How can we safeguard proprietary information?’ and ‘What actions can be taken to secure sensitive data when running a remote business?’
Using data security as a fear factor for employees is counterproductive. An antagonistic workplace atmosphere and a sense of confinement can lead to reduced productivity.
As remote workers do not share a centralised work location, it is less likely that they can gain access to sensitive company data. You have complete control over who has access to each information asset online.
It is imperative to ensure optimal security for customer and company data while avoiding excessive measures. Sharon offers his expert guidance and lists the essential security protocols for any remote enterprise. This article provides all the necessary information to safeguard corporate data, including the use of encrypted laptops and VPNs, the installation of wiping and location software, and the implementation of two-factor authentication.
Make Mental Health a Priority
Despite the many advantages of remote work, remote managers need to tackle a unique set of obstacles. One of these is the possibility of loneliness and exhaustion that extended periods of isolation can bring about.
Remote work is frequently praised for its ability to enhance productivity. However, it is crucial to avoid overworking employees as working more than eight hours a day can have detrimental effects both on an individual’s mental health and that of their coworkers. It’s thus necessary to take the appropriate measures to ensure the wellbeing of all staff members.
Sharon devotes a chapter to employee mental health and wellbeing monitoring, where he advocates that company culture is critical in establishing a safe and healthy workplace environment.
Culture extends beyond superficial team-building exercises to establish meaningful bonds between managers and employees. Despite being physically remote, this engenders a sense of closeness and inclusion for all parties involved. Sharon provides insights into the methods he’s employed, including virtual scavenger hunts and social events, to sustain the remote work culture long-term.
Furthermore, if you genuinely care for your team’s welfare, you will attentively listen to their grievances and take necessary actions to settle them.
Assess Your Ability to Work from Home
Sharon’s book “Surviving Remote Work” is an invaluable guide for anyone striving to thrive in a remote work setting, regardless of their experience level. Whether you’re a high-ranking executive, a creative individual working from home, or a novice learning to navigate tools like Zoom, Sharon’s book caters to diverse needs and requirements.
Remote work can present challenges for individuals, and it has become a new standard. With remote work no longer a passing trend, you must guarantee that you have access to all the required resources and are fully prepared to succeed in this domain.