“You can do your job wherever and whenever you want…you can even sit in a beach chair with a cocktail in hand for all I care…as long as you get our desired results.”
That’s been my opening line to all my new employees for the last 20 years.
The perceived benefits of working from home has enabled me to hire top talent with no local geographic limits. It’s enabled me to steal away top talent from competitors, without having to increase their pay. It’s contributed to a highly engaged workforce with a company culture that won Best Place to Work awards. The benefits to me have far outweighed the hassles.
A survey summarized in the Microsoft whitepaper, Work without Walls, indicates the top 10 benefits of working from home from the employee viewpoint. In reverse order:
10) Environmentally friendly (23%)
9) More time with family (29%)
8) Less stressful environment (38%)
7) Quieter atmosphere (43%)
6) Eliminate long commute (44%)
5) Less distractions (44%)
4) More productive (45%)
3) Avoid traffic (47%)
2) Save gas (55%)
1) Work/home balance (60%)
Yet, while remote working seems logical to me, many employers and managers don’t like it. As the Microsoft paper points out:
“Business leaders assume employees who work remotely and take advantage of the policy are not really working. This is because of the loss of control. Employers lose direct oversight and cannot witness productivity firsthand.” (Emphasis mine)
And therein is the problem, and also the seeds of a solution. Bad managers—which, let’s face it, are most of them—don’t set specific, measurable goals and outcomes. So they think they are “witnessing productivity” when a worker sits in her cube, but they are really just witnessing presence. (We all know there are plenty of ways to goof off or slow down the work stream when we are “at” work.)
If managers would just establish goals, rhythms of communication and metrics, than they would actually know whether someone was being productive or not, regardless of where the person was physically sitting.
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