The Case for a Remote Work Policy
There are a lot of reasons a company should consider remote working for its employees. If you haven’t already done so, establishing a work-from-home policy can not only save your company money but contribute to greater employee satisfaction – without decreasing productivity. In fact, happy employees are actually shown to be more productive than those who are disengaged. Remote working is so attractive, in fact, trusted IT and digital staffing agencies often recommend their clients offer remote working options to attract and retain talent.
Remote working is gaining traction (up 91% in the past decade), particularly in booming technology and digital markets like Austin and Denver where the infrastructure hasn’t been able to keep up with the rapid population growth. In these areas and other similar cities across the nation, traffic congestion is wasting countless hours of potential productivity and causing stress and frustration that impacts the health and well-being of millions of people.
Approximately 500 people moved to Austin every day in 2019, yet the capacity of the city’s roads have hardly changed in decades. It’s no wonder the tech hub has been cited as having one of the worst (and third most stressful) commute times in the country, 52.8 minutes on round trips. That translates to almost nine full days of people sitting in traffic every year just to get to and from work. For reference, the nationwide average commute is 48 minutes. Not quite as bad, but just as much of a problem.
Whether a situation such as a hurricane, ice storm, pandemic or other emergency prevents your employees from safely coming into work, you are looking to reduce costs, or you are simply trying to give your employees more flexibility and reduce their commuting stress, having the ability to enable remote working is a good idea. And keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to go full throttle. You can start small or think of ways to incorporate remote work into your existing norms. Many companies try to ease the commute headaches by simply structuring a more flexible work week:
- Flex hours – allows employees to commute before or after rush hour while maintaining the same number of work hours
- Rotating remote days – assigns employees with remote work certain days of the week
- Shorter in-office week – allows employees to work remotely on Fridays
Whether you are looking to establish a fully remote workforce, make work policies more flexible, or offer flex hours to avoid high traffic times, your employees can be just as productive working from home as they are when they’re in the corporate office.
Technology Is Bringing People Together Virtually
For companies who are ready to enable employees to work remotely as some capacity, the transition can seem daunting. Fortunately, cloud-based technology is making it much easier to equip employees with the functionality they need to work from home or anywhere they want, as well as track their performance to ensure productivity expectations are met.
There is no shortage of cloud-based communication/collaboration tools from which to choose. Tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts allows your employees to stay connected with free video or voice calls. Slack is an instant messaging platform that enables your team to collaborate, communicate, and share files. Microsoft Teams is a platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and even application integration. These apps help your employees stay connected and engaged with each other and the business so while they may be remote, they aren’t isolated.
There have been major advancements in project collaboration tools to help manage the workforce and daily tasks, too. Jira, for example, enables users to plan, track, and manage agile software development projects remotely. Similarly, Asana users can organize and plan workflows, projects, and more to keep everyone on track, even when they are working remotely. Zoho claims users can run their entire business with their suite of productivity tools and SaaS applications.
The cloud has completely transformed how work can be done. You just have to find which solutions fit your budget, culture, and work methodologies. If going digital stresses you out, rely on an IT and digital consulting agency to guide you in choosing and implementing the right products for your particular environment. They can assess your people, processes, and work requirements before hand-selecting the tools that will support your business in and out of the office.
Is It The End of the Office?
With so many people working remotely these days, will the physical corporate office cease to exist? Not likely. Daily face-to-face interaction will always be of value. CMSWire reported that while cloud apps help with remote productivity, they can actually stunt collaboration, creativity, and engagement if used long-term without any real human interaction. Without people working together physically, there is less “fly-by” collaboration. Plenty of problems are solved and ideas generated over a lunch meeting or in passing in the breakroom.
There’s another issue at play: digital communication lacks the cues we use to fully understand an interaction. Nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, tone, body language color a conversation and lend to greater understanding between parties, even though it can be subliminal. This is valuable context that digital communications can’t accurately portray. This is why in-person interviews with job candidates are so important. Face-to-face interaction can also lead to deeper relationships, increased morale, and eventually, greater productivity.
Of course, there are some who believe the corporate office setting is too distracting to maximize productivity. Because people crave human interaction, there is a constant hum of conversations as people wander from their desks to engage with others. These are likely the people who would be elated to work remotely, even as they stand side-by-side with others who would miss the corporate office setting if they were asked to work remotely.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
What companies need to recognize is there is science behind remote working as much as there is about the synergy gained from a corporate office setting. By assessing your own situation, you can determine whether a remote working option makes sense for particular employees and for your organization as a whole.
Don’t be afraid to try new ways of working. You can always pivot if it doesn’t bring the expected benefits. If your organization is structured properly, productivity can be easily measured and contrasted in various scenarios.