Woman remote working using a laptop from a comfortable chair, which is on a colourful carpet.
Image: © adrian_ilie825/Stock.adobe.com

‘Ideal remote work looks like a well-supported and connected team’

7 Jan 2020

Mike Hicks, chief marketing officer at tech solutions company Igloo, discusses the finer details of making remote working successful.

Remote working may well become a more common concept in Ireland’s future, given the current buzz around flexible employment options.

We’ve spent the past few weeks hearing from a diverse range of sources on their top predictions for the future of work now that we’ve transitioned into a new decade. From adjustments in policies such as parental leave to introducing rules around answering emails outside of work hours, the tides of traditional work seem to be turning.

But how can we make sure that we give ourselves the best chance possible of successfully navigating all these new ways of working? We spoke to Mike Hicks, chief marketing officer at digital workplace software company Igloo, to hear his insights about the positives and pitfalls of remote working.

‘When implemented properly, a remote work policy leads to time and money savings, as well as boasts a positive cultural impact’

Black and white headshot of a professional man, smiling into the camera.

Mike Hicks. Image: Igloo

Is remote work always a good thing, or are there aspects we need to be mindful of?

While remote work has many advantages, it also has its pitfalls if proper tools for communication and collaboration aren’t put into place. Consider, collaboration is already a big challenge for many companies, regardless of remote working.

For instance, Igloo found 32pc of employees have avoided sharing a document with a colleague because it would ‘take too long to find’. However, when implemented properly, a remote work policy leads to time and money savings, as well as boasts a positive cultural impact, increasing a healthy work-life balance.

How can someone make the most of remote working?

Assuming that employees have access to the tools and team members they need to be successful, employees have free rein to optimise both the flow of work and the environment. Consider, remote working offers employees the flexibility and freedom to work in the way that best suits them.

For example, if an employee does their best brainstorming or writing first thing in the morning before they’re bogged down with other requests, they have the ability to execute their to-dos in the order that best compliments their work styles, structuring their flow of work with their most productive hours in mind.

To further maximise productivity and make the most of remote working, employees should also position themselves in the most efficient settings for their unique work styles.

For instance, if one employee prefers collaboration and is fuelled by a bustling environment, a coffee shop might be the best choice for them, whereas another employee may perform better in isolation, so a home office or library would be the most ideal option.

Do you have any advice on how to stay productive when working remotely?

With a flexible work-from-home policy, it’s in the best interest of an employee’s career to manage their time well.

To create a good flow of work, employees need to understand what time of day is most productive for certain tasks and then build out their days accordingly to best compliment their unique work styles. It can also help to block off these hours for ‘personal work time’ so employees can reduce the number of inbound requests and meeting invites during this time.

For employees looking to make a good impression, and to avoid potentially being ‘out of sight and out of mind’, remote workers need to make a concerted effort to make their presence known. This means being proactive about updating your teams on your daily availability, as well as making your voice heard by avoiding the mute button during meetings and finding ways to contribute to meaningful discussions.

While necessary when working remote, keeping in constant communication with teams can be overwhelming. This can easily lead to ‘communication overload’ or, even worse, employee burnout. With a vested interest, it’s important for employers to be mindful of this as well.

What does ideal remote working look like, in your opinion?

Ideal remote work looks like a well-supported and connected team, despite teams being in different geographic locations. From a business perspective, when done correctly, remote work shouldn’t seem any different than a typical eight-hour day in the office.

When employees are working remote, things like communication between teams and access to documents or other assets should happen just as easily as when they’re in office. All employees should have everything that they need to get work done without having to jump through any hoops or stifle their productivity.

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