Work remote is tricky. Common concerns I hear from leaders frequently are: Are people really working? Are they getting the support they need? Are the teams collaborating as they should?
While these questions may be considered “old school” and stodgy… because, of course, we have technology, and the 24/7 nature of work requires us to work remotely anyway…
I would say these questions regarding the challenges of managing remote employees are much deeper, culturally.
Are people really working? Well, are they working in your physical office? Is this a lack of accountability? Clarity? Delegation?
Are they getting the support they need? Do you feel confident they are when they are in an office space?
Are the teams collaborating as they should? Do you feel confident they are when they are in an office space?
Because Fierce is a small company, I understand the value of having our people physically being together in key functions. That said, working remotely is an option some time of the week and in extenuating circumstances. There’s also value of having a remote workforce in order to create more ease for our Fierce Learning team that is constantly on the road working alongside our clients.
I share this because I do not think there is an easy answer when deciding what’s right and wrong for remote working. And maybe there isn’t a one-size fits all approach.
Regardless, the thing I think leaders who question remote working don’t fully acknowledge is that life doesn’t happen outside of the old-school mentally of needing to be physically at the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At Fierce, we’re able to effectively manage remote working as an option because we have a strong culture of accountability and delegation. If that culture wasn’t present, it would be very hard to make a remote work policy effective.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that work remote is actually on the rise.
This 2018 study found that globally, 70 percent of employees work from home at least once a week. That number is less for U.S.-only workers, however, it’s quickly been on the rise over the past several years.
GALLUP reported that in 2016, 43% of employees in the U.S. worked from home at least some of the time, up from 39% in 2012. As mentioned in our 2018 PREDICTIONS, we expect this percentage will continue to rise.
There are a number of reasons for this increase in remote work — aside from the ease of communication made possible by virtual technology. Employees are wanting to reduce commute time, increase flexibility, and boost their sense of autonomy.
Gallup further revealed that “despite not always having a manager nearby to monitor their productivity, remote workers actually log more hours at their primary job than do their on-site counterparts.”
This counters some of the misconceptions people may have about working remote, such as the idea that remote workers are just watching TV all day, distracted by pets or family members, or taking intermittent cat naps.
Though it may come as a surprise to some, it appears that fewer office-related distractions, more autonomy, and the comforts of home can increase productivity and motivation for many employees.
In fact, according to recent data, remote workers have brought some pretty amazing benefits to their organizations:
- Increase in productivity, engagement, and efficiency.
- Decrease in employee stress and improved morale.
- Decline in overhead and real estate costs.
- Better impact on the environment.
- Attracts Millennial and Gen Z workers.
Those are some great perks! So, how can organizations make sure they do remote working the right way so they too can see these improvements? Here’s the single factor that will make or break the success of telecommuting: effective communication.