We live in a time of transition when it comes to remote work: people are doing it now more than ever, yet many are still hammering out how to make it work better.
If you harbor some hesitations when it comes to allowing remote work, you’re not alone. There’s no doubt that managers can struggle or form bad habits when you lead a team working remotely. It requires initial effort to strike the proper balance when it comes to checking in with employees and setting work hours. When employees work remotely, it’s natural to feel a bit insecure about your communication efforts.
So why work remote? Because countless studies show your remote employees will be happier, healthier and more engaged in their jobs and can save you a significant amount of time and money. They are 20 percent more productive and almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week, all while slashing office costs. And you don’t have to limit yourself to regional restrictions when hiring the best people for the job—a huge incentive for those outside knowledge clusters for certain skill sets.
But to make remote work successful you’ll need to hire people with a proven track record of innovating and executing no matter where they’re seated when doing their job. Not just talented people, but employees that can thrive without constant direction on everyday tasks. The remote work environment isn’t conducive to micromanagement. However, with the right people on board motivated by the most empowering aspects of remote work, you position yourself well to reap all the potential benefits.
In order to achieve this telecommuter nirvana, you must understand why employees want to work out of the office in the first place. To start, there are three crucial headaches you will immediately remove by allowing remote work that your employees will cherish. In the post we’ll explore these benefits:
- Individualized work hours that maximize productivity
- Autonomy over environment that creates the best possible headspace to execute rather than a burden to show up
- The power of eliminating commutes to save time, increase output and transform employee happiness
No strict work hours
To consider the 9-5 work schedule in a high-growth environment antiquated is a remarkable understatement. Sticking to this old-school timeframe stands in the way of teamwork, reduces productivity, signals less trust in your employees and makes the ticking clock on the wall a daily distraction. Releasing your team from a strict schedule can be one of the easiest ways to improve morale. Remote work, on the other hand, encourages individuals to work when they are at their best.
That extra level of recognition and flexibility is a major reason employees justify pouring more hours into their job—they are being treated as capable adults. And it’s a major reason why so many employees are happier working remotely. What does that do for you? Employees with a more optimistic outlook on their job are 12% more productive.
Key takeaways: Let your employees show up when they can and rely on setting objectives and key results (aka OKRs) to keep them accountable instead of designating certain hours for work.
No need to “prove” they’re working
When adults are required to show up in person to do work they could easily complete in a more convenient place, the office feels like a check-in point rather than a productivity space. You don’t just want your employees present. You want them engaged and churning out quality work.
By eliminating the need to show up in person, you demonstrate that results matter more than simply appearing to do your job. And you don’t want the plague of presenteeism to actually make the office counterproductive. Employees may feel the need to make it to work when they are fighting off a cold or exhausted just to avoid taking paid time off. Who does that help? Absenteeism may seem like a productivity killer, but an employee present and not working is potentially more dangerous because you’ll assume work is getting done while crucial tasks get missed.
And what’s the benefit of having employees in office when it’s easy to communicate outside the office? As Nick Hardiman noted in TechRepublic, the rise of effective communication tools has made us better connected than ever and the office less relevant. “The prevalence of smartphones and social media mean you don’t have to be next to someone to communicate effectively,” Hardiman writes. “And new business trends like remote administration, cloud-based project management, video conferencing, and BYOD are extending the effectiveness of remote work.”
The need to be accounted for in person is also unnecessary in daily standups. While standups can help keep your team on track, requiring the need to set aside time for a meeting—whether online or in-person—is unnecessary as a daily habit. Rather than the daily standup, lean on useful tools for better communication like Google Hangouts, Slack and Jell to keep everyone on the team in sync while eliminating overkill on updating colleagues. That leaves more time for getting things done.
Key takeaway: Employees show you they’re working by producing results. Deploy effective tools rather than regular meetings and in-person proof of work.
No need to commute
There are few things more soul crushing than having to face a daily commute that more closely resembles the epic journeys of Greek myths than a quick trip to work. It’s no secret then why the people with the longest commutes often feel they are living the most miserable lives.
Remote employees are often better engaged and more productive because they are afforded the proper time to focus instead battling traffic or catching a train every day. Eliminating the need for long commutes reduces stress and allows employees to plug into the most important assignment early in the day—when they are at their most productive.
Anxiety-inducing trips to the office can leave your employees feeling rushed and out of sorts when they being the real work. With remote work, employees instead start their day with a clearer mind and are able to reinvest that time saved on transportation into checking off additional tasks. There are also no uncontrollable factors like weather or transportation breakdowns that can bring productivity to a complete halt—an unforeseen obstacle that could potentially strike at the worst time.
Use teleconferences instead of in-person meetings, so employees don’t have to make an unnecessary trip. Even your essential one-on-one meetings are often better when they are hosted in a non-office location so employees feel more comfortable and safe when delivering frank feedback. Finding a happy middle point with your employee can reduce transit time for everyone.
Key takeaway: Removing the commute is a major stress reliever. Don’t require office work and ask yourself if in-person is really necessary when scheduling meetings.
You have to trust your employees and do the most you can do to get their best. Remote work is one of the solutions. Despite any initial hesitation you may feel, the decision could set your team up for greater success.