What is remote work to your company? An occasional benefit? A disruption in your typical process? The future of your company? Many decision makers have concerns over remote employees, and general negative perceptions about working from home. Most of these perceptions aren’t based in fact. In this post we will address and correct six of the top misconceptions of remote work.
One of the top concerns over remote employees? Many employers do not trust them to do the right things when they’re working remotely. Which is a shame, because a number of studies have found that people working remotely are actually more productive.
For a company to succeed with a remote work program, they need to re-focus from “spending work hours at work” to “spending work hours working.” Focusing on deliverables and outcomes, rather than the amount of time spent working, will result in improved focus and ultimately higher levels of productivity.
Culture is an important part of any company, but it shouldn’t hold your company back from necessary change. Take a look at your company culture. Is it enabling your employees to succeed in any environment? Is it open to adapting when change forces your company to react? Or is it a foosball table in the lunchroom?
In this era, companies with a shared group goal, one they can set achievements for, one that can capitalize on the benefits of adapting, will succeed. Companies with concerns over remote employees may obsess over tradition and ultimately deny the benefits of change. This may result in employee engagement, performance and retention consequences.
One can make the same argument one thousand ways. But this isn’t an argument about what’s fair and what’s not. It’s just a matter of practicality. Some people have roles that require them to be on the road, or in factories, or in spaceships. How employees react to your company’s remote work policy will depend on how you roll it out. Remote work doesn’t have to be an all-in proposition – some people prefer to work one or two days per week in the office.
Start by determining who can and cannot work remotely. Could they work some days in the office and some days remote? Then give them the option of opting in or out. Use your marketing team to communicate why your company is considering remote work and what the eligibility criteria is.
Concerns over remote employees and concerns over security can go hand in hand. But if your company has its own servers on site, that doesn’t necessarily make it less susceptible to cyber-attacks. Companies can have most of their structure in the cloud and have the same level of security, if not better. Having a cloud-centric company adds efficiency to your IT operations. For example, IT personnel can onboard and offboard devices remotely with the click of a button.
Employers aren’t the only ones with concerns over remote employees. But working from home versus working in office doesn’t make someone any less an employee. A company’s culture should reassure its employees of their value. And that their value remains unaffected by their work location. If employees are worried about being forgotten, they should be encouraged to proactively reach out and connect with those who can help. Managers should work with them to discuss professional development opportunities and career possibilities.
In many ways, working remotely is like starting a new job. An employee might have the same role, but now they’re also their own task master. If an employee has this concern, they should consider how they successfully managed their time while working in office and implement similar strategies at home.
Managers should encourage employees to set appointments to help maintain control/discipline and keep to office hours. Taking breaks can also be helpful for maintaining focus, as is separating home and office as much as possible. Equip employees with tools and systems to help them self-manage. Encouraging and supporting employees to create an environment where they have structure but also flexibility will help them find their own balance.
Work from home might not be the nightmare scenario that many companies fear, but it still poses a new set of challenges. How does a company effectively measure remote workforce performance? There are a few keys to success when setting up a performance management program that holds true in a remote work environment.
Performance is a top fear for those with concerns over remote employees. You can’t measure remote workforce performance without clear goals. And it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. When it comes to setting up the right performance management system, it will depend on your company culture. First and foremost, you’ll need to identify and understand the goals that make sense for your culture and organization. Then, you’ll be able to come up with a program that supports your goals.
Next, you’ll need to have a process in place for setting goals and objectives at the company, department and individual level. With these in place, you’ll be able to set measurable objectives for each team member that tie back to the overarching company goals. This will make it easier for team members to build out quarterly 90-day plans and connect their work to larger company initiatives.
It’s also critical to provide opportunities for team members to give and receive feedback on a regular basis. This goes beyond the traditional feedback provided by a manager to a team member. It starts with developing a culture that embraces delivering and receiving constructive feedback. A few tactics HR leaders can put in place to help aid the sharing of feedback include quarterly self-assessments, peer and upward feedback surveys and regular 1:1s between managers and their team members.
Focus on providing the right tools to facilitate regular communication. HR specifically can help foster a culture where support, feedback and communication are welcomed. But, HR can’t do it alone. Those values also have to come from leadership and people across the company. Team members have to want to share and receive feedback.
HR teams should make sure there are ways to give developmental feedback in a remote environment. For example, HR can provide guidance to managers on how and when to share certain types of feedback, i.e. this is appropriate over email vs. this requires a conversation over the phone or video.
At Motus, we’ve developed a performance management program that ensures team members receive regular feedback and professional development opportunities while also recognizing top performers. To be honest, not a lot changed with our performance management program when Motus moved to working remotely full-time. It’s part of the culture we had in place before the pandemic and we’ve proven it can be successful in the office or remote.
The key to our success is that we’ve always been focused on outcomes and results. That’s why we can have things like unlimited PTO and flex time policies. With a focus on outcomes, you’re able to determine if a team member met expectations and if not, what they need to do to be successful. We’ve found that it’s helpful to have templates and processes in place to help team members understand the expectations. At Motus, we achieve this through individual 90-day plans and quarterly self-assessments supported by manager feedback.
Providing visibility into measures is also important in this process. Technology can help you track and report on metrics and KPIs, for example, with something like real-time dashboards in your CRM tool. This gives employees the ability to check in on performance relative to the objectives and goals. By setting objectives and completing assessments each quarter, team members receive feedback all year long, as opposed to only on an annual basis.
Hopefully this information will help you overcome concerns over remote employees and start enabling them to perform at their best. Remember, remote work is not granting employees the option to do nothing on their couch all day, and it isn’t marooning them from the rest of the business. Remote work is an opportunity to increase company flexibility and enable employees to accomplish more from the comfort of their home. Ultimately, building a performance management program will depend on your company culture. That makes focusing on your culture another great place to start. Remember to facilitate regular communication, focus on results and provide templates and documented processes. These will help your team succeed in a remote work environment.
Interested in learning more about remote work and the role it could play into your company’s future? Check out our educational materials on BYO.