When you think about work, you probably think of an office. A worker behind every desk, typing away on a computer. Afternoon meetings in the conference room to discuss recent projects. Gossip at the water cooler; take-away lunch in a paper bag.

Yet modern technology has completely changed the way we think of work. New ways of sharing information mean that sitting in an office from 9 to 5 is no longer necessary to get things done.

As all the normal rules for business and social interactions are shredded daily by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, working remotely has become a lifeline for UK businesses.

Many organisations that have previously ignored remote working are making an overnight u-turn, or those that only allowed hybrid working when team workloads overflowed, now need a framework, some rules and fast ideas for keeping morale up.

The appeal of remote working is not being driven just by the improvements in technology and facilities: work from home and remote working are becoming in-demand benefits for prospective candidates seeking new roles. Employees and candidates are constantly seeking to improve their work-life balance and improve their overall wellbeing.

Remote work can also help you appeal to top talent that may just be at a geographical remove from you, or are seeking a change in their working habits. All things considered, putting together a remote working policy is in your organisation’s best interests. Offices provide many distractions, from chatty co-workers to long lunches and frequent trips to the break room. Even worse: illnesses spread rapidly around offices. When one employee gets sick, it’s almost guaranteed that the rest of the office will catch whatever they are carrying within the next few weeks, halting productivity and heightening the number of sick days your staff takes.

But what was once seen as a benefit is now a necessity. Even before COVID-19, work from home policies were starting to become the new normal. With the novel coronavirus’s onset, many companies have transitioned to working from home full-time to keep employees safe. Remote work offers an employee the flexibility to complete daily chores while still being productive. As workers can organise their time the way they want, they can make sure that they have time for work as well as for other things, such as housework or family life.

Last year, the Office for National Statistics predicted that half of the UK workforce would be working remotely in 2020; and when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, more and more businesses were forced to embrace this way of working to align with the limitations of lockdown.

But how do businesses ensure that there is a strong company culture, even among teams who rarely or never meet?
Company culture is important because it affects how your employees and customers perceive you – and this greatly determines how successful your business will be. Since remote teams are physically distanced, building a culture is a bigger challenge, but the need is even greater without in-person interactions to build culture. When a company lives up to its core values, its culture will transform employees into advocates, enrich their wellbeing, and ensure the company retains its top talent.

Effective collaboration between employees and clients needs to be nurtured.
You and your employees will have to be available for clients, who might be uneasy about dealing with remote workers. It’s understandable: building trust is just that much more difficult when a client can’t shake your hand or come visit an office to see your progress in person. You should then be upfront and clear about your remote working system from the start. Be sure to be very attentive to your clients and give them plenty of opportunities to contribute to projects wherever they may be in the world.

How to nurture client relationships remotely
We are living in unprecedented times right now. Offices around the world are closed, industry events cancelled, and restaurants? Well, let’s just say you can forget about taking a client out to lunch. With your opportunities for networking dwindling by the second, what can you do to maintain existing connections as well as forge new ones? Below I explore how to nurture your relationships during these challenging times.
• Conduct remote meetings. Using Skype, Facetime or other video calls still allows you to give face-to-face advice to clients whilst working remotely.
• Update your blog. With people spending more time indoors, they will also be spending more time online searching the internet for advice.
• Reach out on social media. Can’t attend networking events or meet your clients in person? Another way to reach out to people and nurture relationships is by being active on social media.

Avoid burnout while working remotely.
Burnout is a common issue in workplaces in general, and the flexibility of remote work does not guarantee you will be able to avoid suffering from this condition. We’ve been working from homes almost daily for the last couple of months now, and managers are now facing problems with employees who are not used to working remotely.
Symptoms of burnout can include (but are not limited to) irritability, loss of sleep, feeling lethargic, feeling unmotivated, anxiety and sometimes, depression. Burning out early when transitioning from the office to working from home has become one of the most common mistakes to avoid for remote workers.

In conclusion…
The dynamics created by remote work are different than the normal office routine, so managers need to rethink how they manage remote workers to keep everybody happy and productive.