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Working from home is a trend and new norm - Employers need to change.

Per Forbes Advisor, remote work statistics, ability to work from home is now a #2 consideration for employment after the salary. Employers must change with the new reality and keep your staff happy.

Urban Land institute released an annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate® in 2024 report and compared the share of residents working from home pre-pandemic and in 2022. Not Surprisingly, the number of workers working from home increased by 3 times or more in major cities. In 2023, many large institutions required folks to come back into a hybrid environment, somewhat successfully.

The report also points to the fact that it’s very unlikely that the work landscape will return to pre-pandemic norms, with remote work here to stay and downtowns (with many commercial office buildings) needing to be revamped with investments such as housing or condos.

Working from home is acceptable, if the right tools are put in place to make sure the employee gives you the highest productivity as good as in the office environment.

There are certainly issues with working from home and I can share my experiences on solving them. Here are top 5 issues and proposed solutions, based on my experience, for small business owners.

1. Solving Isolation from the team.
In my firms all virtual meetings are with video and camera on (in vest majority cases) to feel a part of the group. We always plan common activities where everyone can contribute and even win prizes. Just wrapped up a Halloween Costume contest, starting a food drive across the firm, planning next corporate event. If in-office employees are getting benefits or gifts, make sure work from home employees get the equivalent ones as well.

2. Solving for Distractions.
With kids running around and close proximity to the refrigerator at home, work with employees to have a fixed schedule when kids are in school or doing homework. Allow some investment in home office supplies to help employees find a quiet time to work. From an employer perspective, invest into tracking software on each task and completed action that employee performed, to measure the effectiveness of the person vs distractions around them. Additionally, I invested in Quickbooks time to measure the employee productivity on the project or a task. I found that a few employees could not work in a remote environment and must come to the office full time.

3. Solving for Communication and Collaboration.
It's an uphill battle to constantly communicate to remove employees on new tasks. I keep it simple and dedicate the lengthy and time consuming tasks to remote employees. I tend to overload the individuals to make sure that the company does not suffer from lack of productivity of remote employees. It will be much easier to measure and control the production, when they are fully loaded.

4. Solving for Technical Challenges.
Especially in the beginning of employment, new remote employees should be hand held for the set up, operations, software updates and installation, Training and security protocols. I typically don't rush with putting someone into production work flows right away and make sure the new hires get comfortable, or my tech support tells me that someone does not know how to use the computer (that happened at least twice).

5. Work-Life Balance.
Program-in breaks and lunches in the employee time card and routine. Mentally, there should be a clean separation. At the end of the day, require employees to log off from corporate computers and time tracking. Make it mandatory. Allow flexible time, if family emergency requires.

I am sure that there are more considerations for small business owners and I hope I gave a few tips to keep your staff happy and your business running smoothly and productively.