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In 2020, we’ve seen a huge increase in the acceptance of employees working from home in Australia and around the world. In the nonprofit sector alone, 69% of organisations surveyed said they were considering a shift to remote work even after the pandemic is over.
While it’s not possible for all jobs or industries, leaders in countless nonprofits are exploring the possibilities of this new paradigm and the benefits it brings for teams and the organisation as a whole.
If you’re new to working from home, or are thinking about allowing more staff to work from home, it’s useful to gather as much information as possible so you can:
- limit unnecessary spending
- ensure productivity
- maintain your security posture
- promote team collaboration
We’ve put together your ultimate guide to working from home to help your nonprofit hit the ground running and make a seamless transition. But before we touch on how to get started, let’s look at some of the benefits of remote working in this digital age…
Benefits of working from home
There are many well-known benefits to working from home, and there may be many others that apply to you on a personal level.
Some of the advantages that apply to most people include:
No commute: How long does it take you to get ready for work, get in your car (or to public transport), and then travel to your office every morning? This is time that could be spent getting a little extra shut eye, working out, walking your dog, or having breakfast with your family.
Now consider how long it takes to do the reverse for your trip home. This is time that could be spent going for a walk, putting on a load of laundry, taking a bath, or preparing a good dinner.
This extra personal time aids in creating a great work/life balance – and you get much more of it when you don’t need to leave your home to get your work done.
Save money: While many people who work from home still love to pop out and grab a coffee, the chances that you’ll choose a homemade lunch over eating out every day are much higher when you work from home.
You also don’t need to pay for fuel, public transport or parking (which can be ridiculously expensive if you work in a CBD!).
More relaxed dress code: This is another area that can save you big bucks during the year, as you no longer have to overspend on workwear to keep your professional wardrobe up to date.
This is not to say you should spend all day in leisure wear. Successful people say that even when they work from home they still get properly dressed for the day; even if it’s just jeans and a nice shirt. But there is less requirement to be dolled up to the nines with high heels or a suit and tie.
More productive: The energy of an office environment can be uplifting, which is something some people say they miss when they work from home.
However, with limited distractions – such as people stopping by your workspace for a chat or tapping you on the shoulder for advice every second – you’re more likely to power through your work at impressive speed.
Ideally, this translates to even more “you” time at the end of the day. At a bare minimum, getting through your work quickly and efficiently should free up mental space to truly step out of the work mindset when you switch off your computer and transition to home life at the end of the day.
The benefits of allowing staff to work from home
Studies have shown staff who work from home are happier and more engaged. In fact, a 2017 US study found the average worker is happy to give up 8% of their wages just to be able to work from home.
If you’re still sitting on the fence about encouraging remote work, consider some of the other benefits which generally include:
Higher job satisfaction leading to higher retention. Dealing with staff turnover is expensive and time consuming, and research has shown that staff who are empowered to work from home often experience higher job satisfaction.
This can lead to higher levels of morale, which in turn drives a stronger company culture and helps you build an enviable employer brand.
Less sick days. A worker study found people who work from home take less sick days each year than their office-based counterparts.
Increased productivity. A 2020 study of 5,000 Australian, British, French, German and Italian workers found that two-thirds believe they are more productive at home than at the office.
Reduced costs. There has been chatter across the globe from business owners about the potential cost savings of shifting to a remote workforce. Considerations include being able to move to a smaller office, lower utilities bills, and savings on incidentals such as toiletries, tea, coffee, and so on.
Ability to attract strong talent: When you embrace a remote workforce, you open the door to high performers who may not live anywhere near your office. Similarly, there may be high performers who live nearby but only consider working for companies that are flexible and progressive. At the same time, studies have shown that employee attrition dropped by 50% in NFP’s that embrace remote working.
When you consider the sum of all benefits for both individuals and organisations, the case for allowing remote working is quite compelling.
It’s important to remember though that working from home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are simply not keen to mix their personal and work lives, and report feeling isolated which can lead to a lack of motivation.
The antidote to this is choice: staff who want to work from home can, and staff who don’t can still work from the office. Alternatively if your organisation wants to revert to a 100% remote workforce, the key to making it work comes down to good management practices.
Tips for managing a remote workforce
The secret to managing staff who work from home is to communicate, communicate, and communicate some more!
This includes foundational communications, such as documented policies and practices that set clear boundaries about what staff can and can’t do when they work from home.
Be open and transparent and encourage staff to speak up if they feel overwhelmed, underwhelmed, isolated, or disconnected. This will allow you to spot problems before they have an impact while effectively managing your work, health and safety obligations as an employer.
Communication also includes regular catch ups, such as by phone or video conference. Ideally, these catch ups include the team as a whole as well as one-on-one catch ups with each team member.
You might start by organising all-in meetings for every Monday morning and smaller team meetings for every Wednesday and Friday morning. Try to make sure every person gets a one-on-one with their team lead or boss each fortnight or month to discuss how they are tracking both personally and professionally.
Don’t underestimate the power of virtual social catch ups too, which could include a virtual water cooler on your chosen messaging app, or virtual Friday afternoon drinks.
In addition to communication, other tips include:
- implement tools that can track productivity
- give staff space to create a routine that works for them
- have a reliable unified communications platform
- align your culture to support a remote workforce
Lastly, consider the changes you may need to make to your hiring and onboarding processes. You want people who are a good culture fit for remote working, and you will also need fit-for-purpose training collateral that spans all of your remote working platforms so new staff know how to use them effectively.
Have the right work from home tools
Working from home effectively requires more than just a laptop and an internet connection. Organisations must have the platforms and systems in place to facilitate remote working and ensure staff have access to all the resources they need to do great work.
For a complete guide on selecting the right work from home tools, check out our blog: The 7 Tools You Need To Work From Home.
Maintain your security posture
Nonprofits that transitioned rapidly to working from home during the lockdowns of 2020 quickly discovered the complexity that can be required to ensure staff are working safely from home.
Your Work From Home Policy should set clear boundaries for how staff must login to their work environment, as well as where they can login from (for example, not at their local coffee shop using public WiFi!).
Other policies could include:
- how often staff need to change their passwords
- where work hardware and printed materials should be stored at the end of the day or on weekends
- what initial and refresher security training staff need to do
You may want to engage a remote work security specialist who can evaluate your IT environment, audit your existing security, develop an effective security solution, and ensure you have everything set up correctly to keep your data safe.
There’s no doubt that the number of people and demand for working from home will increase in coming years. 2020 has only given us a taste of what’s yet to come, and as technology advances and the capabilities of cloud computing continue to amaze us all, it’s only a matter of time before every business finds its own way to make remote working work well.
We’d love to assist you in transforming your communications. Whether it be from a legacy PBX system, a different VOIP system, or meeting rooms that no one will use because they take longer to set up than it does to have the meeting…IComm can help.
Reach out today, so we can help your business reach its potential.
Take a virtual tour of our Sydney Showroom here and explore what’s possible for your meeting space.