Figuring Out If Remote Work Makes Sense For Your Workplace
Over the last couple of years, there wasn’t much of a debate on whether there was a benefit to remote work, because in many cases, there simply wasn’t a choice. However, as things have started to return to normal, there are more and more business leaders having to grapple with whether to have their teams return or whether to deploy a permanent remote work policy.
It would be nice if there was a simple answer to this question, but it really does depend on a couple of key factors. Here are four things you should take into consideration in making this type of decision.
- How do you interface with your customers? Remember, at the end of the day, your ultimate success will be driven by servicing your customers or clients. While they may have had no choice, over the past couple of years, to interact with you via a phone call or over a Zoom call, it doesn’t mean the customer experience has been satisfying. While they have continued to use your services or buy your products, if they are able to find an interface that better serves their needs going forward, this could be a huge factor in their consideration to stay with you or go with someone else. Take some time to notice their behaviors today. Are they asking to come into your business? Are they asking for extended hours? Are they dropping by? Don’t be afraid to reach out and find out what is working (or not working) for them.
- What is the makeup of your employees? Makeup refers to the type of skills they have (are they skilled when they come into the business, or do you do a lot of training on an ongoing basis), the type of work they do (do they work independent or are they dependent on each other), are they self-directed (are they clear about the outcomes that need to be achieved, each and every day), are they proven in reaching out, when they get stumped? There are some position and people that are certainly conducive to a remote work model, but there are others that can be questionable. In many situations, employees do not work in isolation of each other. To ensure work is taking place in a timely manner, you may be required to implement core working hours, where employees are known to be available to each other, or to establish a different type of performance tracking if working remote. In other cases, training and development and customer service need to be taken care of in person.
- Can you find a delineation? It doesn’t matter what type of workplace you have, as soon as someone gets something, then others feel they should get the same. It is about being equitable and it doesn’t matter how much you may dislike this principle it is always in play when it comes to workplaces. In setting up a remote or hybrid model, you need to be able to define the line on who is going to fit into this arrangement and who isn’t. You need to be able to explain the logic because if you don’t, you will create dissention and likely fighting across your team, which will take you away from what is important. Define something that makes sense and then manage the team to perform in whatever model you choose.
- Can you change how you manage? So many of us, have never really had to learn how to effectively manage a remote work or hybrid workforce. Sure, there will be those that argue they have been doing it for a couple of years, however I think we can all agree that there hasn’t necessarily been the same sort of demands and needs for productivity. In many cases, we have experienced more delays and mistakes. We have recognized that employees have had to deal with families and different situations. In essence, we have really given each other a “pass”, however there will be a point when the excuses will no longer fly, and you will have to be capable of managing your team to be effective and efficient. Managing a remote or hybrid team is going to require you to do things differently. You are going to need to track performance differently. You are going to need to communicate differently. You are going to need to ensure your team interacts in a different way and that you have put in the tools and processes to make sure it all happens. The effectiveness of a remote or hybrid model, will really fall on your shoulders.
Remote work is a tough question facing many leaders; not one to take lightly in the decision, so my recommendation is to take the time to weigh out the pros and cons; seek out advice from those who can help you with the decision and recognize that workplaces are changing all the time and the only decision you really need to make is, if this really the time to change yours.
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