Guest article written by Jenny Holt
As a leader, you’ll have to make tough decisions that will impact your team on a daily basis. One of these decisions is whether or not your staff should work from the office or remotely.
Many leaders are resistant to the idea of a remote team, but it’s increasingly becoming the norm. Allowing your team to work remotely could increase their productivity, happiness, and well-being. There are, however, various pros and cons associated with home-working.
As a leader, it’s your job to make sure your team is effective, meeting targets and surpassing them. This is easier said than done in most cases, and it can be frustrating when things aren’t going as planned. Remote working could help, though. The Society for Human Resource Management conducted a study which looked at teleworkers working from home. They found that of employees who worked remotely a few times a month, 77 percent of them reported their productivity increasing greatly when they worked off-site. In addition, 30 percent of the people taking part reported they accomplished more work in less time.
These numbers indicate that working remotely can have extraordinary benefits. An increase in productivity is the goal, but what if people slack off and spend time browsing Facebook or YouTube, wasting time whenever they can? Research shows this isn’t the case, and the study shows that remote working can work.
How do you know whether your remote workers are managing their workload and are focused and on their tasks? This is one of the biggest concerns business leaders have about remote employees but there are several ways you can ensure your remote workers stay aligned to the rest of your team.
As an employer, you have expectations of your employees and equally, they have expectations of you. To ensure there is balance, it’s important you lay out exactly what you expect from each remote worker. If you are truly committed to succeeding with a remote workforce, then it may be worth incentivizing them. Do you have a budget to help set up their home office? Could you loan equipment from the office to ensure they are using approved and compatible devices? To succeed with off-site employees, you need to make sure you’re setting them up to win.
When your team works outside of the office, they are likely not going to see as many people as they usually do. For some people, this is a blessing, as they just aren’t very social, though for others it can be hard. Stanford University conducted a study, finding that without the social aspects of an office setting, some people feel isolated and disengaged from the company culture, and want to return to a more traditional workplace environment.
In a follow-up to this study, Stanford researchers found that most of the people who’d taken part wanted to return to the workplace. They said that they felt their social lives were stunted. This was despite the fact that they’d enjoyed increased productivity when they were working remotely. So, it’s a good idea to provide enough opportunity for your remote workers to stay engaged and socialize. You can call weekly team meetings, or only allow remote work a few days a week, or month, to make sure employees are still able to socialize and don’t feel isolated.
Your Employees, Your Success
Giving your employees more flexibility and control over their working hours is a big leap, but there are rewards to be had. The more structure you put in place and the easier you make it for your employees to work remotely, the better chance they will have to succeed. Keep the above management considerations in mind before making your final decision. Testing a flexible work schedule with a few employees could be a good place to start.
Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind.