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Is remote working effective?

Is remote working effective header

Remote work­ing is no longer a nice to have. Increas­ing­ly it’s become a must have” for many peo­ple when they look for their per­fect job. If 2020’s pan­dem­ic has taught us any­thing about the way we work, it’s that work­ing in the office is no longer a neces­si­ty. Research has showed us that work­ing remote­ly has been effec­tive for many peo­ple. Data from Gallup revealed that between 2012 and 2016 remote work­ing increased by 4%. This is increas­ing over the last few years as more peo­ple are choos­ing the flex­i­bil­i­ty of work­ing from home.

Work­ing remote­ly is effec­tive for many rea­sons. For a busi­ness, it’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to build trust and account­abil­i­ty with employ­ees. This ulti­mate­ly impacts per­for­mance, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and employ­ee engagement. 

What are the pros and cons of work­ing remotely?

Here are some of the pros of work­ing remote­ly which we will go into detail lat­er on.

Pros:

  • Increased flex­i­bil­i­ty
  • Increase finan­cial wellbeing 
  • Pos­i­tive employ­ee branding
  • Low­er costs for a business

Cons:

  • Lack of social­is­ing and face to face communication
  • Dis­trust and micromanagement
  • Inef­fec­tive communication

What are the ben­e­fits of work­ing remotely?

Increased flex­i­bil­i­ty

Flex­i­bil­i­ty is up there in the pros. Gallup research revealed that 54% of office work­ers say they’d leave their job for one that offers flex­i­ble work time. This flex­i­bil­i­ty allows employ­ees to bal­ance fam­i­ly and work life. Life admin tasks that would oth­er­wise fill up the week­end can now be done dur­ing the week because you aren’t tired and exhaust­ed from com­mut­ing and spend­ing the day at the office. 

Finan­cial wellbeing

The flex­i­bil­i­ty to work from wher­ev­er you want could be finan­cial­ly ben­e­fi­cial for many peo­ple. For exam­ple you could be earn­ing a big city salary while liv­ing in a small­er town, sav­ing on your liv­ing and com­mut­ing costs. A study from FlexJobs revealed that remote work­ers save around $4000 annu­al­ly by work­ing from home, which comes from sav­ing on com­mut­ing costs, as well as sav­ing on cof­fees and lunch­es and a pro­fes­sion­al wardrobe. 

This pos­i­tive impact on finan­cial well­be­ing can make employ­ees feel more moti­vat­ed and hap­pi­er about their job. 

Employ­ee branding

Offer­ing remote work­ing is a good way to recruit peo­ple as well as retain your employ­ees. More peo­ple are look­ing for perks such as flex­i­ble work­ing when they apply for jobs and if your orga­ni­za­tion does that, it’s a huge ben­e­fit for you as you will attract more can­di­dates. This opens up the tal­ent pool so you can recruit peo­ple from oth­er loca­tions. Accord­ing to a sur­vey by Career­Builder, 51% of those sur­veyed report­ed that remote work oppor­tu­ni­ties helped attract can­di­dates to the company. 

It’s also a way to retain exist­ing employ­ees and top per­form­ers. One study found that work­ers that worked from home were more pro­duc­tive, report­ed feel­ing hap­pi­er and quit less than those who weren’t work­ing remotely.

Cost sav­ing for a business

For many organ­i­sa­tions, offer­ing remote work­ing is an effec­tive strat­e­gy for sav­ing on busi­ness costs. If less peo­ple need to be in the office, you can hire out a much small­er and cheap­er office, or have no office at all! A recent study by Gart­ner found that many CFOs are look­ing to shift a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of their employ­ees to work­ing remote­ly, even after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. Gart­ner inter­viewed 317 finan­cial lead­ers across a num­ber of organ­i­sa­tions. Some respon­dents to the sur­vey said that they would look at per­ma­nent­ly tran­si­tion­ing to remote work­ing. Around 4% of the respon­dents said that they would leave 50% of their work­force remote. 17% said they would keep 20% of their staff off­site and anoth­er 25% said that 10% of their work­ers shouldn’t return to an office. Many orga­ni­za­tions have now decid­ed to offer more remote work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties or go com­plete­ly remote. For exam­ple, Siemens announced that they will be offer­ing their employ­ees 2 – 3 days work­ing from home under their new mobile work­ing” scheme. 

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What are the dis­ad­van­tages of work­ing remotely?

Work­ing remote­ly can have some dis­ad­van­tages how­ev­er these can be eas­i­ly over­come if effec­tive process­es are put in place.

Lack of face to face interaction

Many remote work­ers cite the lack of face to face inter­ac­tion as one of the biggest dis­ad­van­tages of remote work­ing. Accord­ing to the Insti­tute of Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment, the lack of face to face com­mu­ni­ca­tion can lead to feel­ings of iso­la­tion and para­noia and many employ­ees felt over­whelmed with the num­ber of emails.

How­ev­er to reduce the feel­ings of iso­la­tion, it is impor­tant to sched­ule week­ly social catch ups with your col­leagues whether it is through video con­fer­enc­ing, or if you are able to, in person.

Poor man­age­ment techniques

For remote work­ing to be effec­tive, there needs to be good man­age­ment. Man­agers who haven’t been trained effec­tive­ly to man­age remote staff, may resort to micro­manag­ing — mak­ing employ­ees feel demor­alised and not trust­ed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is a con­cern among many organ­i­sa­tions. Research from Microsoft found that almost 73% of employ­ees and man­agers said they did­n’t trust their remote work­ing col­leagues to get on with the job. How­ev­er, this is far from the real­i­ty. Accord­ing to the study, 70% of employ­ees claim that they get more done when they are away from the office than when they are at their desk. And two in five peo­ple said that they are more cre­ative when work­ing flexibly.

Traits of good man­agers include trust­ing their employ­ees by mak­ing them account­able and by allow­ing them to take own­er­ship of their work.

Lack of effec­tive communication

Effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion can be a chal­lenge for many remote work­ers. Accord­ing to the Insti­tute of Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment (ILM), remote work­ers report­ed unclear and inad­e­quate com­mu­ni­ca­tion and often felt a lack of shared pur­pose and identity.

This can be eas­i­ly over­come by col­lab­o­rat­ing togeth­er on shared goals and through com­mu­ni­cat­ing each employ­ee’s pur­pose and role in achiev­ing the over­all objectives.

Hav­ing the right tech­nol­o­gy can help to clear­ly com­mu­ni­cate goals, align your team and pri­ori­tise tasks. For exam­ple, if you usu­al­ly dis­cuss tasks in the office, a lot of things can get lost in pass­ing and for­got­ten about. Record­ing tasks and goals on a sys­tem that is accessed by your whole team, can reduce this by remov­ing any uncertainty.

Hav­ing reg­u­lar sched­uled check-ins and catch ups also allows you to talk about your tasks and key priorities.

Is work­ing from home more productive?

Some man­agers feel uncom­fort­able with the idea of their employ­ees work­ing from home. For these types of man­agers, all they care about is pre­sen­teeism. And if you are work­ing from home, you must be watch­ing the tel­ly or pro­cras­ti­nat­ing.” How­ev­er, research shows that peo­ple who work from home are more pro­duc­tive. Accord­ing to Owl Labs, 79% of employ­ees report­ed increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and 78% report­ed less stress, as well as increased job satisfaction.

Anoth­er study also com­pared office work­ers to remote work­ers and found that office work­ers on aver­age spent 66 min­utes of their day dis­cussing non work top­ics where­as remote employ­ees only spent 29 min­utes. This adds fur­ther evi­dence to the fact that work­ing from home is more pro­duc­tive for many employees.

As more peo­ple are request­ing flex­i­ble work­ing, orga­ni­za­tions are also find­ing that remote work­ing makes employ­ees more pro­duc­tive. 72% of com­pa­nies with remote work poli­cies say that it makes their work­ers more productive.

How do you effec­tive­ly man­age a remote team?

Reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion as well as clear goals is key to man­ag­ing teams remote­ly. Man­agers should for­malise vir­tu­al face to face com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their team to dis­cuss pri­or­i­ties and tasks for the day. Reg­u­lar sched­uled check-ins also help to dis­cuss progress of tasks as well as talk about any oth­er issues or con­cerns that an employ­ee might have. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing achieve­ments and cel­e­brat­ing wins is also impor­tant to help your team feel appre­ci­at­ed, recog­nised and motivated.

If goals aren’t clear to your employ­ees, it can bring up a lot of anx­i­ety and uncer­tain­ty. It’s essen­tial that goals are clear and vis­i­ble for all team mem­bers so that they have a shared pur­pose. In John Doerr’s book​“Mea­sure What Mat­ters”, we learn that​“lack of align­ment is the num­ber one obsta­cle between strat­e­gy and exe­cu­tion”. Well-writ­ten goals, clear­ly aligned to your organization’s strate­gic objec­tives, help your team to under­stand how they con­tribute to the big picture.

What tech­nol­o­gy do you need to work from home?

The right tech­nol­o­gy and tools give struc­ture to remote work­ing. You need ways in which you can com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly, whether it’s a way to chat with your col­leagues or a way to com­mu­ni­cate tasks.

Project man­age­ment tools like Trel­lo and Asana are a great way to track spe­cif­ic tasks if you want an overview of all the activ­i­ty that’s hap­pen­ing in your team.

You also want to make sure that you aren’t just rely­ing on email to com­mu­ni­cate because that can be over­whelm­ing for many employ­ees. Try to use more infor­mal means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion such as Slack, which lets you chat to your employ­ees. Video con­fer­enc­ing tools like Zoom or Google Hang­outs are help­ful for meet­ings and face to face communication.

Per­for­mance man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy can also help with under­stand­ing how your employ­ees are per­form­ing. Clear Review for exam­ple enables orga­ni­za­tions and man­agers to make goals clear to the rest of their team. It gives you vis­i­bil­i­ty on the progress of your employ­ees’ goals and objec­tives as well as any feed­back they get.

Find out how you can max­i­mize pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, even when your team is remote.

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