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Is Your Company Any Good at Remote Work?

September 16, 2021 Employee Experience
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

Remote jobs are a part of the new normal for a growing number of companies. In fact, according to research from Buffer, 16% of companies globally are 100% remote and that number is increasing every day.

The appeal is clear. Remote work offers employees more flexibility and gives employers a way to save money on overhead costs for corporate offices. That's not to mention the talent advantage. Offering remote work opens up a global talent pool for companies that want to hire the best talent possible.

But not all remote companies are created equal. Just because a company is willing to go remote, doesn't mean that it's actually any good at it. Some remote companies offer more benefits than others. Some are more attractive for a myriad of reasons, which makes it essential for companies to identify what makes them good at remote work and what they can offer prospective employees as a result.  

Remote or In-House: Is It Really That Different?

In many ways, what makes a good remote company is similar to what makes a good company that isn't remote. 

So, see what others are saying about your company online. For example, check out reviews on Glassdoor and refresh your company's LinkedIn presence. Reach out to current employees and alumni to ask them about their experience.  

Also, communicate your remote work strategy and plan through those avenues. A company that takes this seriously will frequently have something on their website that not only states they have a plan, but also shares what it is.

In interviews, they describe what the company does to support a remote work environment. If a company has a plan on its website and can speak fluently about how it is implemented and applied, there's a good chance there will be a positive remote-work culture. 

Related Article: Is Now the Time to Invest in a Head of Remote Work?

5 Ways to Identify a Remote-Friendly Company

A good remote company always goes the extra mile to communicate transparently with candidates and employees alike.

"Now more than ever, employees need transparent communication to ensure alignment and promote engagement with the role, business and mission," said Toni-Lynn Flynn, senior vice president of people at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based CentralReach.

"Every solid organization invests in the right systems and tools to ensure employees are set up for success and have the infrastructure in place to reduce friction points and create efficiencies within the teams."

Here are five ways to identify if your company is truly good at remote work:

1. HR Can Explain How They Work Remotely

A bad remote company will act as if nothing has really changed since they shifted to remote work, or act like high turnover is simply baked into the remote experience. In a job interview, HR and the hiring manager should be able to fluently explain what software they use to manage teams — not just listing them off, but explaining how they use the software and what a job candidate can expect when they arrive.

"If the company cannot articulate a philosophy and vision for remote work and how performance is measured, it is not the best remote company for you," Flynn said. 

2. Offers Freedom and Flexible Hours

Beware the company that insists on non-flexible hours, doesn't offer generous PTO, or pushes too much monitoring software if it isn't directly relevant or necessary for the job. Being a remote worker means being treated like an adult, at least at a good company. Good ones trust employees to get the job done.

3. Avoids Micromanaging

Good remote companies have managers that avoid micromanaging their team members. That's the golden rule of remote work.

"Instead of focusing on every little thing, they should look at the larger picture and base an employee's performance on their output," said Zuzana Ptačinová, talent acquisition specialist at New York City-based CloudTalk.

"It's wrong to measure an employee's productivity from the number of hours they have clocked in."

Related Article: 5 Steps to Avoid Micromanagement in Remote Work

4. Strong Communication

A company has an excellent remote work environment if they have a strong sense of communication. That begins with recruiting, with good communication through the application and interview process, and continues throughout the employee lifecycle. 

"Clear communication is super important in remote work," said Amy Tran, vice president of people at San Jose, Calif.-based Panzura. "When we can't rely on in-person communication, we need to have systems and tools in place to foster regular, clear communication between teammates. When we make information and connections with teammates easily accessible, people feel more included."

Companies that set communications expectations and ensure every teammate understands how what they're doing fits the organizational mission will be more successful in engaging employees.

5. Sets Healthy Boundaries

Without the boundary of a commute home, people are working later and often burning themselves out. A good remote company intentionally sets boundaries for work, said Everett Harper, CEO at San Francisco-based Truss.

"They create standards for response times for asynchronous communications," he said. For example, East Coasters don't have to respond to an 8 p.m. message from their Pacific colleagues until the following morning.

They also use video and remote meeting technology judiciously. A good remote company "limits or creates options for 'on camera' meetings to mitigate the greater drain on attention," Harper said. 

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