Although many teams have fully functioning working-from-home policies in place, there are also plenty of examples of admirable businesses that have decided to revoke the working-from-home freedoms they previously allowed—take Yahoo!, IBM or Hewlett-Packard, for example. At the same time, employees that are able to work from home have been shown to be happier and “massively more productive”—so what’s the answer?
Clearly there are some new challenges and drawbacks associated with managing a team that works remotely, but there are also plenty of reasons to embrace the movement. Here are some factors you may not have considered when deciding whether to let your team work remotely.
1. Remote work is a great way to keep staff happy
In today’s competitive workplace, attracting and retaining top talent is one of the most crucial things to get right. If you can give team members the opportunity to work remotely—even just one or two days a week—that can be a great way to improve morale. For some team members, this flexibility will come to be the thing they value most about their job (and a reason not to leave).
2. Remote work forces you to focus on real productivity
Many managers are reluctant to allow work-from-home arrangements as they worry they won’t know whether the team is working productively. This is backward thinking, though, as remote work highlights productivity problems—it doesn’t cause them. If you can’t tell whether people working remotely are being productive, it really indicates that you can’t track productivity. Although seeing someone physically sitting at their desks might provide us with some psychological comfort, it is no measure of productivity.
Now, depending on the type of work you do, productivity is not necessarily easy to monitor. However, putting in place systems to get your team focused on their productivity is always worthwhile. And allowing remote work is a great way to instigate a new approach like this. New productivity tracking might include things like:
– a 10-minute start-of-day meeting to share each person’s plans for the day
– an end-of-day email to share what everyone has accomplished; and
– a weekly share-your-work demonstration meeting where the team takes turns to walk through something they’re working on and get feedback from the others.
3. Remote work is actually more productive
You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth stating again. When employees work from home, they no longer need to battle the daily commute. Plus, there are fewer interruptions and company politics to deal with—which can often be a source of stress for many team members. When working from home, people can essentially get on with their work.
Of course, there are also different distractions at home, a greater need for more structured team management, and more difficulties associated with communication and collaboration. But there are lots of resources to help with this, and these obstacles can easily be overcome. In comparison to the productivity gains that can be achieved by a better focus on productivity, these are small inconveniences.
4. Use your remote working policy to attract better talent
Once you’ve tested the waters with your existing team, you can use your work-from-home policy to attract new team members. This might be through promoting the flexibility that you now offer, but it could even be by making the role available to candidates located in other areas entirely. By broadening the talent pool that you’re recruiting from, you can often attract someone of a much higher caliber. For businesses located in small towns or in areas where there is a lot of competition for top talent, offering a remote position can really give you a huge advantage.
Make your decision with a trial of remote work
Allowing your team to work remotely can feel like a huge risk, but most businesses find that if they’re working closely with team members, productivity actually improves. A good way forward is to ease into some combination of working from home (for fewer distractions and increased productivity) with work in the office (for better communication and collaboration). This will allow you to build the extra structure required and find the right balance for your team.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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