Drawing the Line Between Personal and Professional in Remote Work

Part 1 of 2 

From a previous post, California Corporate Housing mentioned how big names in the tech industry publicly announced their plans on keeping a remote workforce for the long haul. Earlier this year, two Gartner, Inc. surveys revealed what other business leaders’ plans of action are concerning remote working.

One survey demonstrates that 74% of 317 CFOs and Finance leaders would arrange at least 5% of their on-site workforce population to remote positions for good. A few months later, another survey of 127 company leaders revealed that 47% of them plan on allowing their employees to permanently work remotely. 

Gartner’s vice president of advisory in the HR practice, Elisabeth Joyce, explains that the anticipation of reopening offices ushered leaders to evaluate long-term remote working in order to meet their employees’ expectations while creating more resilient business operations.

Moreover, the health crisis also led to an increased number of repatriated employees who might now be working remotely from their countries of origin for the same companies. Many companies’ workforces are slowly shifting to a more global workforce signaling the need to establish better communication within their organizations.

Although some companies have had some experience with remote work arrangements, many did not anticipate a drastic change of workforce model to this degree. Another concern is that some businesses whose industry dictates a hybrid workforce model make it even more complex for them to manage. 

One aspect of managing a remote workforce is important to note, and that is remote collaboration. With workers settling in different parts of America or the globe, for that matter, HR and global mobility managers are facing challenges in ensuring the effectiveness of remote collaboration among dispersed team members.

Employees have reported that remote work has revealed some issues. Is working from home sustainable for the business community? Many are having trouble drawing boundaries between personal and work life. Others are suffering from video fatigue, which is not surprising given that teams resort to video communication channels to collaborate. 

Since many businesses no longer think that remote working is a temporary solution, many have acknowledged the need to modify their work practices to promote better remote team collaboration. 

Here are some tips:

Avoid “always on” culture

Leaders should set clear work boundaries. It’s getting harder to separate employees’ personal and work lives when they’re literally bringing their work home. Having a team anxious about an email or a work progress notification after working hours warrants unnecessary stress. It’s important to encourage employees to work within designated working hours and that includes reading emails and notifications. This will help ease their worries and prevent them from burning out.

Set clear goals and assign tasks 

Provide clear instructions and deadlines for assigned tasks. When teams receive vague instructions and ambiguous deadlines, teams are bound to have disagreements when not given proper direction from team leaders. Some companies prefer using the “over-communicating” strategy when handling a remote team. 

Tara AI, for one, strongly believes in this strategy. It emphasizes the importance of informing each team member what their overarching goals are for the month. Another company joining in support of “over-communicating” is Trello. In its blog, it explains, “Over-communication during a crisis is important for all teams, but it’s especially important for teams that don’t see each other in person.”

Encourage separate remote workspace

Far too often, people encounter a video call interrupted by the sight of a child running around in the background or a pet’s tail waving around a team member’s screen. Dedicated workspaces prevent distractions that can cause one to lose his/her train of thought in the middle of a meeting. 

California Corporate Housing noticed this increased need and adapted its units with designated workspaces to help workers focus on their jobs. 

Promote transparency

It’s important to keep track of where each member is at with their assigned tasks. With asynchronous communication tools such as Slack, Trello, and Asana, employees and employers now have company-wide access to all of a company’s activities. It helps managers see the collaboration efforts of each team member, and gauge their performances for a specific project.

Apply 360-degree feedback

Getting feedback from supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues can help employees understand which part of their job needs improvement. Though conveying feedback through digital communication channels can appear impersonal, the fact that teams are now working remotely should push global mobility and HR managers to adopt a 360-degree feedback system to provide them direction.