Climate Action Collaborative: Everything you need to know about going remote |

Climate Action Collaborative: Everything you need to know about going remote

Paul Abling
Climate Action Collaborative

Remote work isn’t something companies have the luxury of ignoring. Why? Well, telecommuting was increasingly popular pre-pandemic, with 5 million professionals working remotely at least part-time in 2018.

But, once COVID-19 struck, the growth rate exploded. In what felt like no time, 66% of employees in the United States began working from home at least part-time.

Plus, a startling 44 percent of employees are telecommuting five or more days a week. Before the pandemic, only 17 percent were working from home that frequently.

In some cases, the increase was born of pure necessity. However, even in a post-pandemic world, remote work isn’t going to go away.

Companies and employees are experiencing the benefits of working remotely. Often, there are productivity boosts and significant cost savings that come with the arrangement. Plus, you can lower your carbon footprint, eliminate commutes, and help Eagle County meet our local Climate Action Plan goals.

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However, if you want to experience the benefits and bypass the potential drawbacks, you need to learn some of the nuances.

The business case is ridiculously strong

One of the biggest boons for businesses is the cost savings. Employers reduce hard costs such as office supplies, cleaning expenses, rent, etc., and save an average of $11,000 per half-time remote worker per year. That’s what you gain even if that worker still comes into the office the other half of the time. For full-time remote employees, the savings can be much higher.

There are also the productivity boosts. Overall, professionals report being 77 percent more productive when telecommuting. Plus, telecommuters usually work five to seven hours more each week than employees going to the office. Maybe the lack of commute is benefiting everyone?

Speaking of commutes, say goodbye to a massive carbon footprint. When employees don’t have to drive in, that’s taking vehicles off the road. Plus, the company can also have an easier time going green. If you don’t have as many people in the office, you can downsize. Your utility draw will fall, you’ll do less onsite printing, and may even reduce telecommunications needs.

Security needs to be a priority

Now, if you go remote, that doesn’t mean you can just send employees home to rely on their own devices. Not only is that often unreasonable, but it also might not be safe.

Generally speaking, companies should supply any critical technology that an employee will use. Why? Because it keeps you in control. That way, you can enforce certain policies, block unsafe activities, and otherwise keep your assets secure.

Promote wellness by setting boundaries

One of the trickiest things about working remotely is stepping away from work. Simply put, if you work from home, your office is almost always just a few steps away. That can cause problems and can create an always-on mindset.

At times, the always-available mentality is spurred by the employee. For example, they may think, “What’s the harm in checking my email one more time before bed?” Next, they see a message and decide to respond or tackle an associated task.

However, managers can also play a role. If they expect their remote employees to be constantly available since they are so close to their office, that stops employees from ever having any real downtime. They essentially can’t log off and walk away.

Ideally, managers and employees need to have a conversation about boundaries. In some cases, the simplest thing to do is to create set work hours. Managers can then reassure their team that, outside of those times, they aren’t expected to do anything.

Take care of your company culture

There’s a good chance your company has worked hard to carefully craft its culture. The trick is, the culture may be based on the in-person experience. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t carry it over into a remote landscape; you just need to be proactive about it.

As you prepare to go remote, look for opportunities to offer the in-office experience online.

Additionally, find reasons to gather for some fun. For example, why not have a team lunch? You could send each employee a gift card to a local restaurant that offers delivery and then get together for a group video chat while everyone enjoys their meal.

Yes, caring for your culture will look different when you go remote. But, if you approach it proactively, you can make sure your culture stays amazing.

You don’t have to jump in with both feet

Even if you’re ready to explore remote work at your company, the idea of transitioning might be scary. It’s a big switch, so being nervous is normal.

What’s important to remember is, you don’t have to jump in with both feet. Instead, you can gradually shift, essentially dipping a toe in the water before getting in deeper.

First, start slow. Get the chosen team the right tools and equipment. Then, have them work remotely one or two days a week. Keep an eye on their productivity. Gather feedback from them. Note any troubles they experience along the way. Find solutions to those issues before you expand the program.

By using a strategic approach, you can figure out what parts of the remote work program are working and what parts aren’t. That’s a big deal. You’re learning before the program becomes too cumbersome. That keeps the issues fairly small and manageable.

Paul Abling is the marketing and communications director for Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.

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