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Remote work and working from home – How coronavirus is changing the way we work

Digitalisation has made it possible and the rapid spread of coronavirus is making it inevitable – the way we work is going to change drastically. Although it has been possible to work remotely for years, many employers are still resisting the idea of allowing their staff to work from home. They are too afraid that if the entire team is not working together in one place, they will lose control and suffer from less efficient work processes.

However, such concerns are usually unfounded since studies show that working from home can actually be more productive and significantly increases employee satisfaction to boot. The more or less forced restructuring of our working environment due to COVID-19 offers – in addition to all the challenges – extremely exciting advantages for companies and their employees.

In the coming days, the main focus will be on adapting to new working models and accepting that working methods must be designed more flexibly in the future. We need to find new approaches to work because it can no longer be defined by fixed hours and workplaces alone. Instead, the focus must be placed on how to best achieve corporate goals. With the effective use of digital technologies, new working models such as remote work and working from home are establishing themselves – all of which are practical alternatives to working from a fixed office location.

Remote and on-demand work can make work processes more flexible

Netflix and Co. are a prime example for us all, since “on-demand” is now a central theme on the internet. This enables films and TV series to be watched whenever you feel like it, and there are no longer fixed viewing times. The same model can also be applied to work processes. It is not a question of scheduling “work” within a fixed period of time, but rather of setting specific goals for the team that must be achieved by a certain deadline using agile processes.

When working on a project with freelancers, for example, it is possible to put together on-demand teams from all over the world comprised of the people who possess the best qualifications for the respective project.

For companies, this means smaller core teams that can be expanded by employing global talent when needed. The technology for this type of remote work environment is now widely available, so collaboration can be implemented extremely successfully even when not tied to a specific location.

Advantages of remote work and working from home: Indispensable for the language industry

As a globally active language services provider, SwissGlobal has been actively implementing home-office and remote-work approaches for a long time. After all, the language industry as a dynamic sector would be unthinkable without qualified experts who speak different languages and live and work in different time zones.

The advantages of location-independent collaboration with freelancers and remote teams are manifold.

1. Global talent

Finding the right person for a project is not always easy. However, the greater the choice, the sooner the appropriate specialist can be hired, proving the significant advantages of being able to work with talented individuals from all over the world. This is the only way that SwissGlobal can offer its clients a wide selection of linguistic skills and language combinations.

2. 24-hour availability

Integrating employees from all around the world enables extremely urgent orders to be fulfilled as quickly as possible. As a Swiss company, for example, we have access to freelancers from South America and New Zealand, who can complete assignments for us across different time zones and outside of our own business hours.

3. High degree of flexibility

Our freelancers and remote workers live in countries with different costs of living and salary levels. This allows us to offer our clients a wide range of prices. Everything can be accommodated, from small budgets to large projects with high quality standards. Of course, SwissGlobal pays all of its freelancers a fair market wage, but freelancers in Switzerland, for example, have higher salary expectations than those in many other countries.

4. Companies and the environment can benefit

Thanks to our flexible collaboration with freelancers and many of our own employees who also regularly work from home, we can save significant costs in terms of office space capacity. In addition, working from home also helps to reduce traffic congestion and ensures a smaller carbon footprint.

How to manage remote teams successfully: The 5 most important tips

Integrating remote work options into your work processes and making use of home offices offers many advantages and is absolutely indispensable in the current corona-impacted climate. While this changeover poses a significant challenge for many companies, it also provides tremendous opportunities for developing new digital work structures. To ensure that this process works well for you right from the outset, here are the most important tips on how to manage remote teams successfully.

1. Clearly define goals and expectations

Defining exactly what is to be achieved is very important, especially at the beginning of a project. Drawing up daily, weekly and monthly plans that are accessible to the entire team can be very helpful. The more clearly the expectations are defined, the better each individual can work towards fulfilling them.

2. Strengthen communication and cohesion

Clear and open communication is naturally a vital component for employees collaborating from home as well. It’s really the only way to identify problems at an early stage and maintain the exchange of information among all team members. Particularly during the coronavirus crisis and the accompanying social isolation, interpersonal contact should be encouraged all the more.

3. Develop the right technological infrastructure

If you are planning to manage a remote team via e-mail, you should definitely consider expanding your technology toolbox. Collaboration using e-mail and messenger services can certainly go well for a few days, but these functions are simply too limited in the long run, you will need more sophisticated aids to organise projects online.

Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams and meeting solutions such as GoToMeeting and Zoom can be very helpful, especially in combination with project management apps like Asana, Trello and ClickUp, all of which can be used to clearly establish responsibilities, tasks and deadlines. The success of remote work truly depends on your technology infrastructure. Using the right tools and structuring work processes accordingly are therefore two crucial steps.

4. Focus on results, not on hours worked

When managing a remote team, the most important thing is to give your employees the right amount of freedom. Wanting to define and control each individual work stage is actually more counterproductive than anything else. Furthermore, the emphasis should be less on the number of hours worked and more on the results achieved. Giving more responsibility to individual employees and letting them work independently within the predefined structures definitely pays off in the end. It increases their satisfaction and simplifies work processes because micromanagement is no longer necessary.

5. Building a connection and shared vision

When switching to a home-office setting, being physically separated from other employees can feel unfamiliar, especially at the beginning. That’s why it is important to continue to prioritise team building and interpersonal relationships. A daily check-in call for the entire team can be a good way to build cohesion. New employees also need to be made familiar with the company’s vision and mission, so that they, together with the rest of the team, can work passionately on implementing them.

Seizing the opportunities presented by remote work and working from home

The corona crisis took us all by surprise and is demonstrating its tragic effects on a daily basis. The situation is likely to continue for several weeks or even months and will have a grave impact on various areas of life for the global population. Business activities are not exempt either, but this does not mean that we can’t learn something positive from it. In recent years, many companies have been too resistant to the digital possibilities of collaboration and neglected to develop modern work structures.

Technological progress and the desire of employees to be able to organise their workday more independently, especially from their own homes, must now be addressed without delay in the context of COVID-19 and its widespread effects. This will certainly be a great challenge for some companies, but with the right planning and strategic set-up of structures for remote work, many advantages for companies and their employees can be created – even in the uncertain times of coronavirus and beyond.

So there you have our tips for expertly managing your remote teams. They have proven their worth to us as a successful language services provider over many years, and they demonstrate the most important steps you need to take to effectively master the transition that is currently taking place.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time if you have questions about our services as well as for advice on remote work and working from home.