How to set up a virtual workplace and keep remote workers happy
Anyone who works with a remote team can tell you that figuring out the nuts and bolts of a remote workplace isn’t a simple task.
Keeping up a virtual workplace means that you’re giving up some portion of the office experience–and not all of the office experience is bad. So how do you replace in-person interaction, check up on remote workers, and keep your company morale high from afar?
We’re going to look at how you can set up a virtual workplace that keeps your remote team productive, inspired, and engaged.
What is a virtual or remote workplace?
The definition of a virtual workplace is any work environment that doesn’t rely on one physical location. A “remote workplace” may also refer to an independent office, such as a remote worker’s home, that’s connected to a company via the internet.
In some cases, the term “virtual workplace” can include satellite offices, but we’ll focus on virtual environments wherein employees work from home.
What are the pros and cons of a remote workplace?
Positive elements of remote workplaces include:
- Performance. A two-year Stanford study found that remote workers are more productive when outside the office, beating the control group by 13%.
- Employee satisfaction. One reason employees are more productive with a remote workplace: they like working remotely. Research found that 71% of employees working remotely reported feeling happy. Only 55% of office-bound workers felt the same.
- Costs. When more workers work remotely, it means less strain on your commercial lease. In some cases, this may mean you don’t even have to maintain a commercial lease at all to run your company.
Some of the top remote workplace challenges include:
- Lack of face-to-face interaction. Humans are social creatures, so being isolated in a home office can wear on us. Even though remote workers express more satisfaction when working from home, you’ll need some interaction at your company. (More on that in the next section.)
- Organization. The good news is that there are lots of great tools that make remote work possible. The bad news: if you haven’t set them up yet, it may take you a while to get your virtual workplace set up and running like a well-oiled machine.
How do you manage a virtual workplace?
If you’ve never done it before, the process of moving to a virtual model can be intimidating. Here are a few of the top concerns for managers–and what to do about them.
Consider setting aside some time once a week for a “virtual happy hour.” The goal: Just human-to-human communication to reduce the stress of the workday. At monday.com, we’ve done things like had a virtual dance party (complete with a DJ!) and fun activities for families like magic shows and cooking classes.
Management and oversight
Jason Aten for Inc.com recommends frequent check-ins with employees. When things appear to go well with remote work, it’s easy to forget that there may be workers who feel out of the loop and aren’t sure how to share this with leadership.
Using cloud sharing, create an onboarding document that current employees can access at any time as well as a process for remote HR. This should include vital information for any new remote worker who needs to catch up on how your company works. Onboard everyone onto the same software as well, as communication works more smoothly when you have a unified set of tools for everyone. Here at monday.com, we’ve also created a Buddy Program wherein new team members are remotely matched with a more veteran monday.com team member to act as a Q&A resource and all-around support system.
Keeping tabs on everything that’s going on is more difficult in a virtual environment. A quarterly review or feedback session will help you maintain consistent contact with remote workers who might not otherwise check in.
What is the best remote workplace technology?
For any question you have or objection you might raise about remote workplaces, there’s probably software that addresses it. Here are some of the things you can accomplish with virtual workplace technology that integrates with monday.com:
- Tracking project progress. Without a physical office, you can’t go to the whiteboard and write down the latest progress for everyone to see, but it’s possible to monitor progress, for example, with remote project tracking.
- Task assigning. If you’re used to a morning office meeting in which you organize everyone’s tasks for the day, it’s still possible to handle that with remote technology. Consider creating a Daily Team Task checklist to simulate the same experience.
- File sharing. You can’t hand one file from one person to the other, and creating lengthy email chains with files can get confusing. Share a common Dropbox folder that integrates with your work OS to create the feeling of using the same computer.
Are there virtual workplace examples we can learn from?
Yes: A Buffer survey in 2019 found that 30% of companies report that they run using a 100% virtual model. In fact, Buffer itself is a fully-remote company. It’s able to support tens of thousands of paying SaaS customers with a limited team that doesn’t rely on in-person work.
Virtual workplace companies are far more common than you might imagine, and they still do productive work.
But it never hurts to have a template in hand for getting things done virtually. Be sure to check out our remote work templates for onboarding documents and strategies for making the switch to a virtual office.