Should You Allow Employees to Work Remotely?

We can accomplish so much with a phone line or the touch of our keyboard. So more and more the question comes up as to whether a person can work just as productively from a remote office. Learn considerations when making those decisions and how to implement policies successfully.

Technology is always changing and it will continue to do so. There are so many things we can do with a phone line or the touch of our keyboard. So more and more the question comes up as to whether a person can work just as productively remotely from a home office or if they need to be in a physical space where the rest of the team is. In the video, I’m going to share information about how ways to make those decisions and how to implement those policies successfully.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Working remote has both benefits as well as some downsides. Let’s look at the benefits first. There are some very tangible cost savings that can be realized, such as office space, even gasoline that the employee would be saving on and time depending on the commute distance. But there are other significant benefits for job productivity. There is a lot of studies and research that confirm that working remotely actually increases the productivity of an employee. There are a lot of reasons that create this such as more autonomy, more flexibility, greater sense of control over a person’s process and space, which leads to higher overall job satisfaction as well.  These are significant things to take into consideration.

Downsides of Remote Work

Let’s look at some of the downsides. Some employees may not be able to work as independently as others so that may need more check-ins or oversight. Communication can be more challenging or complicated to reach each other at different locations and if the policy is not implemented correctly, you could have some resentment among employees if they feel that some employees are able to work remotely and others cannot. But one of the biggest downsides of remote working situations is the erosion of team comradery and culture. Because if people aren’t working alongside each other on a regular basis, those bonds aren’t quite as strong as when everybody is in the same location.

Consider the Job Function

In addition to the cultural considerations, which are very important, we need to take into account the job function. The type of work that would lend itself naturally to remote working would involve a phone and a computer. Examples of those types of positions would be admin, call centers, data/research, and analytical endeavors, creative positions that need focus, coaching, customer service, and selling.

There are some positions where this would be impossible, like manufacturing line environment or landscaping, where you have to be there. But more and more, employees and employers are finding opportunities to make this work even for less obvious roles, like management roles. I encourage you to think outside the box. Progressive employees and millennials embrace the technology and want to make this work.

Establish a Policy on Remote Work and Communicate It

Once you weigh the pros and cons and make your decision, you should establish a policy and communicate it. The policy can be general and flexible, something as simple as a statement that says: “Every position will be evaluated to determine whether telecommuting is available.” The key is to consistent. If you had two individuals in the same role and one lives an hour away and one lives five minutes away, they both should be allowed the same opportunity to telecommute (or not, depending on your decision). If the person that lives closer still wants to come into the office, that’s fine, as long as the same opportunity exists for both.

Be Confident and Consistent

Be comfortable with the decision you make. Don’t be sending mixed messages to the staff with comments that make people feel bad, guilty, or resentful. Comments like, “I don’t understand why we can’t reach him on the phone right now” or “I wish we didn’t have to set up the conference call, it’s more work when he’s not here.” That is setting up more resentment in the team. Embrace the decision, know that there will be challenges and deal with them constructively.

Final Thoughts

Working remotely is a viable option for many positions. Keep an open mind when deciding whether to move this forward, be consistent in your policy, implement fairly, and you will likely see improved productively and increased employee loyalty.

Check out other videos in the Learning Resource Center, available to you as a member. Here’s to your Graceful Leadership!

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