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How to Create and Implement a Remote Workforce Strategy

Learn what a remote workforce strategy is, why it’s important and how to create and implement a strategy in your organization.

ActivTrak

By ActivTrak

An employee working remotely due to his company’s remote workforce strategy.

Remote work is a major topic in today’s business landscape. New technologies and an evolving understanding of how work gets done effectively outside of traditional office settings have fueled the rise of remote work in the past few decades. More recently, shifts in employee sentiments around work-life balance since the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the conversation to the forefront. 

Regardless of how executives or employees feel about remote work, it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The Journal of Accountancy reported in early 2024 that fully flexible work, hybrid work and fully in-office work arrangements each took an even split of how companies today get work done. If your organization doesn’t have a remote workforce strategy in place, now is the time to fix that.

In this post, we’ll discuss what a remote workforce strategy is, why it’s important and how to create and implement a strategy in your organization.

What is a remote workforce strategy?

A remote work strategy defines your organization’s specific approach to remote work. It should include guidelines on who works remotely and when, plus details on how the business will enable remote teams to do their work effectively. The right remote workforce strategy will empower managers to support existing remote employees or expand remote work options to hybrid or in-office workers.

Why is a remote workforce strategy important?

As we mentioned previously, remote work is here to stay. This is despite reports showing that 63% of CEOs believe their employees will be fully in office by the end of 2026. Many of these CEOs saw issues with their workforces when team members were forced into virtual team settings during the 2019 lockdowns. They reported problems with employee engagement and morale due to team members being unable to separate work and home time or missing out on team-building activities. They also saw trouble with employee productivity due to a lack of communication and collaboration and issues with security or accessibility. 

However, many employees have come to value remote work. Pew Research recently reported that of employees who left their jobs in the past few years, 45% said they did so because they didn’t have enough flexibility in their schedules. In 2023, 90% of surveyed U.S. employees reported to Gallup that they did not want to return to a full-time schedule. And 40% of employees reported to the Harvard Business Review that they would look for a new job if their organization required them to come into the office full-time. 

Creating a successful remote workforce strategy empowers your business to offer employees the flexibility they want while balancing the organization’s needs. Remote work also makes your company more competitive when hiring and retaining top talent. With a strategy that has an eye toward the future, your organization will also avoid the pitfalls that unprepared companies encountered when remote work was forced on them during the pandemic. 

8 steps to create and implement a remote workforce strategy

A successful remote workforce strategy aligns with your organization’s needs, employee demographics and specific industry requirements such as data security and compliance. While every remote strategy will be different, following these eight steps will set you up for success. 

1. Assess the current remote workforce

It’s important to start with a full understanding of your current workforce, especially the remote aspects, to develop a successful strategy for managing remote workers in the future. Start with the number of remote and hybrid workers and metrics related to their engagement and performance levels. 

Use a solution like ActivTrak’s workforce management platform to accurately measure how employees spend their time, what tools they use to be productive and location insights on where they’re most productive. This data will inform your strategy on remote work with facts rather than feelings and give your team goals to work toward. 

2. Identify challenges and areas for improvement

After getting a data-based rundown of your remote workforce, go a step further to identify opportunities for changes to policy or strategy. Look for challenges your employees face when working remotely or areas of improvement by diving into the metrics. This analysis gives you insight into how employees use technology including collaboration tools, what distractions they may face during the day and where they may need more professional development or training. 

For example, managers with the right data can look closer at employees with low performance to figure out what’s wrong, either by having a data-based discussion or by comparing their work habits to high performers. Managers may also uncover opportunities to improve processes that don’t accommodate remote employees.

3. Discuss ideas with employees and leadership

Buy-in from employees and leadership is an important aspect of successful change at any organization. Communicate your findings from steps one and two to the appropriate stakeholders to further develop your strategic ideas. Managers, leaders and other team members will likely have their own thoughts about what a remote policy should look like. Use the data you have to determine what aligns with the best strategy for your organization. 

Individual contributors who work remotely often feel very strongly about their flexibility. When you give employees data to back your decisions and get their input on policy changes, you increase their buy-in for those changes. 

4. Provide employees with necessary resources

Productivity is often driven by the tools employees have, whether they’re working in the office or elsewhere. Remote employees have greater requirements around technology, especially collaboration and communication tools so they can stay connected and work effectively. Most employers provide remote employees with basic equipment like laptops, mobile phones, headsets or webcams. Supplying these tools supports employees, and gives management more power to enforce security measures like firewalls or compliance measures. 

Depending on your workforce and organization’s needs, you may also give employees office equipment like chairs, double monitors, noise-canceling headphones or other tools to create a more productive remote work environment. When creating a remote workforce strategy, define the essential resources you’ll need to provide for remote and hybrid employees. Over time, you’ll also want to update this based on feedback you get from employees about what they need to be successful.

5. Set clear policies and expectations

Employees and managers need to fully understand remote work policies and expectations for your strategy to work. Set clear guidelines on how employees are expected to use their work time, where they’re expected to work and any expectations around productivity. Remote workers also need to clearly understand their responsibilities and who they report to, as it may not be obvious when employees are scattered and working at different times to accommodate their preferences.

6. Prioritize effective communication

The success of any remote workforce hinges on each individual’s ability to communicate effectively. While providing employees with tools for video calls, virtual meetings or messaging is a good first step, teams should also have guidelines on how to use communication tools properly.

For example, in-office meetings often include time for employees to get from one location to another, but remote meetings don’t provide this cushioning. It’s also more difficult to concentrate during a virtual meeting, especially if an employee can access other work apps while they’re in a video conference. Workplaces must create communication guidelines for employees to effectively do their work without being overwhelmed by unnecessary meetings or constant email or messaging notifications. 

7. Monitor engagement and productivity

Once you’ve implemented your workplace strategy, you should closely monitor employee engagement and productivity to make sure it works as intended. Monitoring provides change management data so you can assess the impact of your strategy before and after policy adjustments. You may find certain parts of your strategy work, while others need to be refined or scrapped.

8. Make adjustments as needed

When part of your remote workforce strategy isn’t having the intended effect, you should make refinements to see if you can turn things around. Digging into data may provide insights about why it’s not working, but you can also talk with employees and get their feedback to assist with this process. As you make changes, make sure to wait enough time to draw clear conclusions. Adjusting policies too frequently may stress out and confuse employees, so you’ll want to give changes some time before deciding if they’re effective or not.

Implement the right workforce strategy with ActivTrak

Leveraging remote work gives organizations a competitive advantage. Unlock the full potential of remote work by creating a remote workforce strategy, implementing it effectively and continuously evaluating and improving it. 

Get insights and tools to elevate your remote team’s productivity and well-being with ActivTrak’s award-winning workforce analytics software. Clearly see how work gets done, make better decisions and optimize your business outcomes. Contact our sales team today to learn how you can create a remote workforce strategy and turn it into a competitive edge for your business. 

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