COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in March 2020. As we approach the 2-year mark, it is increasingly clear that remote work has become an expectation for current and future employees. With this said, it is extremely important to recognize that there are still many challenges of remote work. Our leadership team at Creative Financial Staffing (CFS) has successfully overcome these challenges; here’s how.
1. Staying Connected to Your TeamHow do you stay connected? This question is always at the forefront of our minds when thinking about remote work and its future. While working from home, feelings of isolation have skyrocketed. Day-to-day life is not the same without coworkers by our side.
To combat isolation and stay connected with our teams, leaders, and clients, CFS has relied on Microsoft Teams. Any online communications platform (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc.) would be a great option though. These tools allow you to connect ‘face-to-face’ and on a more personal level.
Another way to stay connected is to create shared documents. This allows team members to view, edit, and work simultaneously on a document in real-time. Team members will see what projects are being worked on, and what has been completed, and by who. Interactive documents will help the team stay connected.
2. Unplugging After Hours
While working from home, when is it “ok” to log off? A widespread complaint of remote work is not knowing when to unplug. Now that our workspace is in our home, we must set boundaries around when we work and when we let ourselves relax and spend time with our friends and family. Many have struggled with setting these boundaries, which has resulted in burnout and resentment towards employers.
Erin Power, Area Division Director of our West Hartford, CT office, has made sure to communicate with her team that they must shut down their computers during lunch and unplug. She encourages her team to take a walk during their break and log off after work hours so that there is no temptation to sit back down and continue working. “Take the time after work to do what you want to do, and be present with your friends and family without feeling the need to respond to work emails. The work will always be there tomorrow” (Power).
3. Organization & Productivity
Staying organized and productive has been a challenge to many when working from home. Since you can work from anywhere in the house, it is very easy for items to be misplaced. Especially when you are constantly switching up your designated work spot. When making an effort to stay organized and productive, Diane LeMaire, Area Director of CFS Houston, has shared some tips for success. “It is good to set apart a designated workspace, not just working from your couch or bed, but an actual desk or table. This can help keep you in ‘work mode’ just as if you were still having to go into the office every day and sit at your designated desk” (LeMaire).
Healthline states that working in bed is not doing you any favors and can affect your sleep quality, productivity, posture, and more. By having a designated workspace, not only will you be more productive, but you will also be more organized. All of your work notes and supplies will be in one specific area, and you will have easy access whenever you need it.
LeMaire also states that it is important to look the part. Get up and get dressed in the morning – even if you are not leaving the house – it will give you a sense of normalcy and keep you focused and productive. Doing so may also help with your work-life balance; by getting dressed for work each day, the act of changing into more comfortable attire at the end of the day will signify that it’s officially time to unplug from work and unwind for the night.
4. Changing Your Mindset Towards Remote Work
Although there are many advocates for remote work, not everyone is in favor. Some employers still struggle with accepting the idea of remote work; some companies prefer their employees working on-site, five days a week. For many companies, that is all they’ve ever known.
Regional Director, Stacy Forrester, states that it is time to adjust to the new normal. “Since the new workforce consists of Gen Z and Millennials, who are mostly tech-oriented, companies need to be able to adjust and adapt to appeal to them. This does not mean that companies only need to cater to the newer generations. As time goes on, this new workforce is going to get more involved and develop even more advanced technology that could lead to a massive amount of growth for companies all over” (Forrester). By embracing change now, employers will set themselves up for future success.
In addition to attracting the new workforce and staying competitive, employees at CFS have reported a variety of benefits as a result of working from home:
- No commute time: By eliminating a commute, CFS employees can start their days without the rush and chaos that typically arises from traffic/train delays.
- Money savings: Daily expenses have been drastically reduced, if not eliminated with work from home flexibility. Gas, transportation, parking fees, coffee/lunch, and more. Over time, these savings add up.
- Increased productivity: Many of our employees have noted increased productivity levels, as there are fewer distractions from co-workers. When they were in the office, side conversations and noise levels were distracting. Now, they are free from interruptions and can focus on the work in front of them.
5. Changing Your Hiring Process
Finding top talent is a challenge, especially when you are limited to a certain geographical area. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that. With remote work, hiring people who live within a commuting distance of your company is no longer a must. Now, companies can search for candidates all over the country until they find the right fit. This widens the pool of potential candidates dramatically.
Adjusting your hiring process and expanding your search parameters also opens the door to hybrid work. When you allow hybrid and/or remote work you are allowing people the choice to work from home if they do not feel well, have a doctor’s appointment, or if they simply need to focus more.
By offering flexibility, employees feel more engaged and more productive. Hybrid work has been working well for CFS. Regional Director, Lindsey Herrick, states that her teams go into the office about 2-3 times a week. This allows people to stay connected, while not feeling pressured to go into the office every single day and having to make the commute. “Some people naturally enjoy working from the office, and others feel the exact opposite. But with offering this way of work, then you can appeal to both sides of the scale” (Herrick).
Is your team facing similar challenges? Are you struggling to find quality top talent amidst the new workforce? CFS is here to help. Contact CFS today and let our network work for you.This is article is published in the April/May 2022 Forum. Read the full magazine here!
About the Authors
Creative Financial Staffing (CFS) Lexi Spaulding (Marketing Assistant) and Katelynn Williamson (Marketing Manager) co-wrote "Challenges of Remote Work & How to Overcome Them." CFS is a leading, employee-owned staffing firm founded by CPA firms. Visit www.cfstaffing.com to learn more.