In 2020, we all saw the dramatic shifts in almost everything about society, and how we work wasn’t left out. We moved from the office, the cubicles, the ping pong tables, foosball, and corporate environments to the home office and working from the balcony.

But before all these dramatic shifts, championed by the pandemic, remote work was already gaining ground, especially among the startup, tech, service, and digital nomad communities. Apart from people that worked remotely before the pandemic, we certainly had new entrants into the “remote work is actually this great” circle. But while working remote brings a lot of benefits, from being able to see one’s family, cut down on transportation, and improve one’s health by virtue of them reducing their commute time to giving companies a chance to hire diverse talent, the grass is not always greener at the other end.  Remote work has its own hurdles.

And as a nonprofit considering a shift to the remote work environment, you need to know, understand, and implement certain measures before making the final move. This post is here to help you make sense of the transition – from making the decision to actually becoming a remote nonprofit organization.

Creating the right workspace

When you’re planning to go remote as a nonprofit, space may not be one of the first things you look at because employees now have to find their own space. But remember that where your employees work from should be added to your list of to-dos when going remote. Where they work can make or break their productivity, and you should help them select the best space.

This can come in different forms, including helping your new remote employees build their space by offering stipends for a computer or a home desk. You can also add extra monthly stipends for employees’ internet costs and also when they want to pay for a co-working space membership near them.

While it may sound not-so important, helping your employees get set up is one of the best ways to increase their productivity and make them feel less lonely.

Send them home with the right skills

We spend years acquiring skills both on the job and off the job. As people who work from the office, suddenly having to work remotely may mean a lot of things. The skills that worked in the office when it comes to doing the job would be good. However, not all skills that worked in the physical office environment will do well in the remote work environment.

For instance, the collaboration and communication skills of employees would need to be improved since the way they communicated and worked together would change dramatically. Employees also need to improve and fine-tune their problem-solving skills to go with the remote work environment.

As a nonprofit, these are skills you should inculcate into your employees before allowing them to work remotely, permanently.

Measuring and managing productivity

In the remote work environment, there is no supervisor making sure that employees are sitting at their desks and working. On the side of the employee, this could actially be an opportunity to not put seriousness into their work (but some employees actually work better this way).

So before you send your nonprofit employees to go and work remotely, you need to find a way to manage productivity, a way to motivate them to work, and a way to keep them collaborating and working with all employees.

Nonprofits can organize training sessions for employees and sensitizing them on the best ways to stay motivated and feel less lonely while working from home. Nonprofits can also use time tracking and productivity measurement software to track when employees are working, what they’re working on, and more.

However, what nonprofits should also know is that every employee is different. The best way to achieve maximum productivity is learn each employee’s best times and assist them to do better.

Keeping a vibrant remote office culture

Managing office culture is certainly not an easy endeavor, but becomes more difficult in a remote working environment. As nonprofits, this is one of the most important things to take care of before you move your team to permanent remote work.  

Culture at the workplace, as a remote team, takes different forms. In the office, we’ve come to use mostly office activities such as office canteens in large, corporate environments, foosballs and pingpong tables in the startup environment, as our go-to means of building relationships and strengthening our company’s culture. However, in the remote work environment things are different.

But there are still activities that can give a remote team similar experience as the physical office. Nonprofits can institute virtual gaming sessions to allow teams to come together and have fun. Some startups use breakout room during company zoom meetings to divide employees into smaller teams where they share their personal and work experiences.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to instituting and managing a vibrant remote work culture. What works for one nonprofit may not work for yours. The best way to succeed is to define your organizational needs, learn more about your employees, and come up with ways of keeping them engaged.

Conclusion

Remote work is here to stay. As nonprofits, this is the time to find ways to survive with this new way of working. It could help nonprofits get a more diverse team. Remote work is a great way for nonprofits to build diversity and inclusion at their workplaces. While it’s still in its early ages, it’s essential for nonprofits to find ways to be part of the future of work.