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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About the Cloud Collective
The Cloud Collective is an award-winning strategic alliance between 3 leading cloud technology companies located across the eastern seaboard: Antares, IComm and Quorum.
Together, we offer a highly competitive and comprehensive service that is designed to help your business reach its full potential by leveraging technology to work more efficiently and effectively.
To find out how we can assist with everything from digital workspaces to enterprise mobility and security, data and analytics, network infrastructure, unified communications, user adoption and more, simply contact us.
How do I work from home?
To start working from home, talk to your manager and discuss the logistics. You might ask how often you can work from home, what you need to make it happen, and how you will keep your organisation updated on how you are tracking.
If they agree, you will then need to get set up with a great digital workspace. Think of everything you need to access in the office to fulfill your duties, and what technology solutions your organisation has to enable this.
When you start to work from home, try to get into a routine that allows you to be as productive as possible. You may need to find ways to separate work and home so you maintain a good work/life balance. This may be as simple as having rules around how and when you get ready for work in the morning, and what time you shut down and mindfully transition into home life at the end of the day.
How do I train my team from home?
Video conferencing can be a fabulous way to conduct training remotely. It also allows you to reach a wide audience because you’re not limited to the number of people who can fit in a conference room.
The latest video conferencing software features screen sharing, whiteboards, recording, and many more features that are designed to facilitate training. Set an agenda for your training sessions, and allow people to use the chat area to document their questions as you go. You can then come back to them at the end of the session.
How do I make remote work efficient?
20 years ago, remote working was considered a luxury and a pipe dream for many businesses and employees. Now, thanks to technology, remote working can offer significant advantages for staff and organisations. This same technology is the key to maximising the efficiency of remote work. By having the best technology solutions for remote working, your team will be equipped for maximum productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.
What tools can I use to work from home? In our blog, The 7 Tools You Need To Work From Home, we discuss all the tools you need to make remote working work for you. This goes beyond a simple desk and laptop, and reaches into cost effective remote working tools that are valued by leading businesses across the globe, and will help set you up for success across your entire organisation.