If you haven’t had the question yet, trust me it’s coming soon. Before long, someone on your team will want to work-from-home or move to another location and continue working for your company. So, do you open the floodgates to remote work?
You’ve probably heard stories about Yahoo!, IBM, Hewlett-Packard or other well-known companies that have decided to revoke the working-from-home privileges they previously allowed.
But at the same time, there’s substantial research showing that employees that are able to work from home are happier and ‘massively more productive’ than their in-office counterparts. So what’s the answer?
Well even though there are some additional challenges that arise from working remotely, teamwork online is one of the core capabilities all teams need to develop. Here are some compelling reasons to let your team work remotely….
Should You Let Your Team Work Remotely?
1) In reality, almost all teams work remotely
Do you sit next to all of your colleagues? Do you physically meet with your team several times a day?
Yes, there are some situations where this does happen – my consulting days come to mind when an entire team would be sitting in a boardroom and working on top of each other all day and night! But for the most part, we’re largely separated from the people we work with.
Whether our colleagues are at home working in their pyjamas, in another country, or just down the hall, they’re not right with us so we need ways of working together online.
The same systems and structures we need to work with our colleagues when they’re at home will also help us work together when our team members sitting on another floor or in another office.
2) Having team members that work remotely forces you to focus on real productivity
Often managers are reluctant to allow their team to work-from-home as they worry they won’t know whether the team is working productively.
But this is backward thinking! In reality, remote work highlights productivity problems – it doesn’t cause them. If you can’t tell whether people are being productive when they’re working remotely, it really indicates that you can’t track productivity.
Image source: GetControl
While it might give you some psychological comfort to see someone physically sitting at their desk, it is no measure of their productivity!
Now, depending on the type of work you do, it’s not always easy to track productivity. Difficult as it might be though, putting in place systems to get your team focused on their productivity is always worthwhile.
And allowing remote work can be a great way to instigate a new approach like to increase the focus on productivity.
So how do you do it? A new productivity tracking might include things like;
- A 10-minute start-of-day meeting to share each person’s plan for the day
- An end-of-day email to share what everyone accomplished that day
- 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 team
3) Remote work is actually more productive
No doubt you’ve heard these arguments before, but they’re worth stating again. When employees work-for-home;
- they no longer need to battle the daily commute
- they usually don’t need to spend as much time, money or energy on ‘looking the part’
- plus, there are fewer interruptions and company politics to deal with
Each of these factors can often be a source of stress for many team members. But when working from home, people can essentially get on with their work.
Regardless of the reasons, several large-scale studies have shown remote workers to be more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
Of course, there are some different distractions at home, a greater need for more structured team management, and some additional 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 (Of course, there are also potential cost savings in office space and facilities as well).
4) 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!).
Remote work makes employees happy.
If they haven’t already, it probably won’t be long before your team members start asking whether they can work from home. This is not something to dread or avoid!
In fact, research shows that companies that offer working from home options can reduce attrition by up to 50%.
5) Use your remote working policy to attract better talent
Once you’ve tested the waters with your existing team, you can use your working-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 high competition for top talent, offering a remote position can give you a huge advantage.
Make your decision with a trial of remote work
If working from home seems scary, don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need to dive into a full-time working-from-home arrangement.
A policy where employees can work from home one or two days a week often gives your team the flexibility they’re craving and keeps your company competitive.
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 in the extra structure required and find the right balance for your team. And of course, starting with a clearly defined trial period is always a great idea.
Fiona Adler is the founder of Actioned.com.