Is Remote Work A Viable Option?

by Erin Sevitz on March 20, 2019

Work trends are changing. Thanks to digital workplace tools and new technology, more people than ever are able to work remotely. That means businesses and managers have been forced to adapt to a new working environment. Maintaining employee productivity and engagement (not to mention your own productivity) can seem challenging when workers are no longer sharing the same office with the same resources.

This is a shift managers can’t ignore. The majority of workers surveyed say they would gladly leave their current jobs for positions which would allow them to work remotely to a greater degree. If your business doesn’t offer these opportunities, you may have difficulty retaining and attracting talent in the near future.

The following will help you better understand how you can effectively manage workers and yourself in this new climate. Keep them in mind as you prepare for these shifts.

How Remote Work Impacts Productivity

It’s easy to understand why businesses might feel employees are going to get less done when they don’t work in an office. When you work from home or a coffee shop, you’re exposed to constant distractions, you may not have all the resources you need to work efficiently, and you don’t have a supervisor on hand to immediately answer any questions that may arise.

However, a major Stanford University study indicates allowing employees to work from home actually yields a substantial productivity boost. That’s primarily because requiring workers to report to the office every day essentially means requiring them to spend time commuting every day.

Additionally, if they don’t enjoy their commute or the office environment, this requirement adds stress to the lives of employees. They’re more likely to arrive late, leave early, and take sick days as a result. On the other hand, when they have the opportunity to work from home, they are more likely to genuinely put in a full shift every day.

How You Can Manage a Remote Team

Clearly, allowing employees to work remotely is actually beneficial to your organization. That said, you’ll still need to learn how to manage remote employees effectively. There are several ways you can achieve this goal.

First, it helps to have a communal office relatively close to where most remote workers live. Requiring them to report to the office on certain days (such as during onboarding sessions, and for monthly or bimonthly performance reviews) helps you maintain a sense among all workers that they’re still members of a team.

It’s also important to prioritize regular face-to-face contact with remote workers. That doesn’t exactly mean meeting up with them, as you can stay in contact via your computers. By checking in once a week, you can track their progress, provide feedback (which most employees want more of), and reinforce the company culture.

You also need to keep in mind that activity based working, in which businesses consider how the various activities employees participate in require different tools and settings, influences the resources managers should offer workers. This means it’s important for managers to ask remote employees about whether they’ve struggled to complete any tasks due to lack of access to the necessary technology, workspace, or similar resources.

Making arrangements to provide the necessary access (whether through paying for a remote employee’s coworking space membership, purchasing the needed tools directly, or similar means) is key to ensuring out-of-office workers stay productive.

How to Manage Yourself

You also need to maintain your own productivity if you find yourself working out of the office. A smart way to do so involves simply choosing a place to work where you can get as much done as possible. If you want to work from home, design a home office that’s free from distractions, equipped with all the resources you’ll need, and spacious enough to keep you comfortable. If you’d prefer to get outside, you might work better at a coworking space or communal office rather than a coffee shop.

Again, the shift to remote work is unavoidable as more businesses are embracing it, and more employees want that degree of flexibility. These points will help you keep your team and yourself on task no matter where either of you are working. 


Erin Sevitz

Erin Sevitz is the Senior Director of Marketing at iOFFICE + SpaceIQ.

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