Remote Work Can Be Equally As Productive
Remote work is an option many companies and employees are in the midst of trying to figure out. Now, that might sound a little strange considering many employees have been working remotely for over eighteen months, but its true.
At the beginning of the pandemic, companies had their employees work from home, not because they chose it, but because it was a necessity. There was generally a plan that someday, those employees would come back to the workplace and things would return to “normal”.
Fast forward eighteen months and in some cases both employers and employees have found there are some benefits to having employee work from home, at least part of the time. The question is, how do you deal with the productivity challenge.
Are employees as productive working from home as they are in the workplace?
Now there are a couple of different camps when it comes to answering this question. There are those who don’t believe they are or that it will ever work. There are those that do believe they are as productive and it is a great solution. And then there are some who would like to believe it could work but are afraid of everything it could involve.
Before you write off remote work, I think most of us could agree that just because we have had employees working remotely for the last eighteen months does not mean we have done a great job of managing this. In some cases, work literally dried up, so there wasn’t the need to be as productive. In other cases, our employees have had a litany of things to deal with, so we didn’t want to burden them with meeting the same types of deadlines. And finally, I don’t think any of us thought this would be a reality long term, but alas we are here.
So now the question, “How do I change how I manage, to make it work for both of us?”
- Admit it is a work in progress – It is absolutely okay not to have all the answers when it comes to figuring this out. Sitting down with your employee and letting them know your concerns and having them share theirs is an important first step. You maybe the one wanting your employee to work remotely, and they may have a concern about being connected to their peers and feeling isolated. It is important you know this, so you can build in a solution to this. On the other hand, you might have a concern about them following up with clients in a timely manner. Speaking openly about your concerns, is a good first step in ensuring that everyone knows there are things that may need to change, as you go forward.
- Manage based on outcomes and expectations– While many of us, have been accustomed to managing based on responsibilities, defining outcomes and expectations is critical to everyone’s success. When people were working in your building, you got a sense whether they were working or not, just by seeing them every day. If something wasn’t done, you gauged whether it was because they were slacking off or whether there was simply just that much work. In a remote situation, you need to be clear about what they are expected to achieve in a given period of time. If you expect them to call back a customer within two hours, define it. If you need them to complete certain task, write it down. Avoid micro-managing and help to define what success looks like, knowing full well that they are going to change the laundry in the middle of the day.
- Formalize your communication – In order for remote work to work, you need to make sure you don’t fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap. You and your employee both need to feel connected, but it will no longer happen as you walk down the hall. Set up formal times to meet and create small touch in points. Let them know when things are working well and don’t be afraid to let them know when they aren’t. Communication is key to the success of remote work. Also make sure you build in face-to-face time, with the entire team.
Remote work is not the answer for every company or every employee. Some love it and some hate it, but before you write it off, don’t be afraid to see how you could make it work.
You might surprise yourself with the talent you are able to retain and attract in giving it a try!
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