Since the advent of the internet and its ubiquity in our offices, remote working has been an aspect of many jobs. Once the reserve of freelancers, many employees are now taking to their home offices, coffee shops or sofas to get the job done, enabling many people to have a better work life balance (something numerous workers cite as being a significant factor in being happy in their jobs). In fact, remote working is commonplace in many industries across multiple levels of seniority, and many millennials say it’s a major factor in choosing to join or remain with a company.
It’s a cost-effective and time-effective manner of working. Typical office distractions don’t exist, and it reduces the need for so much in the way of desk space, equipment and other related overheads. So, it can be a win-win situation for both employees and the business.
But, is it perfect? Certainly not. While typical office distractions aren’t a problem, working from home comes with its own challenges. Some polls suggest that 60% of workers would prefer to work from a dedicated desk space, having the opportunity to work collaboratively with their colleagues to share ideas and interact.
Moreover, while some studies show that employees are more productive when they’re working from home, they’re not necessarily more innovative. It’s innovation, after all, that drove IBM to reverse the decades-old tradition of encouraging employees to work remotely, formally co-locating their staff into office spaces again. Reddit, Yahoo and Best Buy have all done something similar, knowing that it’s when people work in physical spaces together that they tend to be most innovative, if not most productive.
But, that doesn’t mean that businesses don’t value productivity. For those who are fundamentally motivated by output, what can can be done to make remote working a success? Well, consider the following:
Invest in the right cloud software
From QuickBooks’ Desktop Enterprise with Hosting, through to Google Drive and Dropbox, having access to the necessary tools is one of the most important steps towards ensuring remote working is possible for people right across an organisation.
Set expectations with employees
Managers who are proactive and set clear goals and boundaries with employees will find that remote working is a success. This will help to ensure staff remain productive while feeling that they’re not being micromanaged or mistrusted, and it will also help managers to demonstrate to their seniors that remote working is worth facilitating. Clearly define what the output needs to be for each individual, and ensure the data is recorded.
The biggest challenge to working remotely is feeling as though there’s a lack of connection between an individual’s contributions and the company’s success. So, be sure to feed back on how things are going, sharing both the highlights and the challenges. This will help remote workers to keep feeling connected and part of something bigger than their four walls.
It’s likely that remote working is here to stay, particularly as technology continues to improve and facilitate better communication and integration of the tools we’re using. All it requires in order for it to work is to ensure that it’s motivated by increasing productivity and employee happiness, and that there are a handful of measures in place to keep it on the right path.
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