Today's question is: Remote working, is it worth the hype?
I think this is really, really interesting that I've been asked this question because I'm in a very good position where we are in IT company that operates with companies remotely. And we employ staff that work with us remotely. So we are both the employer, and in a sense the employee of a remote workspace. In my opinion, it definitely helps productivity as long as you're in an environment that allows for it and you've got a mindset of success. You can't have someone who needs to be spoon fed working remotely. You need to make sure that you have the discipline and due diligence to continue to work day in and day out to get the job done, make sure that this is easily viewable, and you don't get ripped off.
Let's look at it from both perspectives.
I'll start from the employee perspective: You don't want to feel like you're working remotely and you're being asked to do things all around the clock. You want to make sure that your time that you have with your family is valuable time, and you're not being interrupted by work things. Whatever the reason for working from home be it you've been in an incident or accident, or you're trying to reduce your greenhouse emissions down by not driving as much, or if your work's been nice enough to give you the ability to work at home, to spend more time with your family, you need to make sure that you are giving back to your employer in a way that is favourable for them. The best way to do this is to make sure that your employer has accountable systems in place that shows the work that you're doing and shows that it's easily as good or better than an office environment.
I've had ups and downs with the different people that I've employed to work with me. You can see the performance change if they happen to be at home with their kids, and their kids are making a lot of noise, I can see that straightaway in the quality of the work that comes through.
On the flip side, if their kids are not at home and they don't have that distraction it’s a different story. Let's be honest, we love spending time with family and sometimes you feel like, "Oh, work's getting in the way of that." Especially if you're working from home.
When your kids are not there, I can see the productivity go through the roof. And not only through the roof to be on parity with their work counterparts that are working in the office but they in fact excel and exceed past that, because there isn't the distractions. There's no coffee talk banter or anything like that. They're able to sit down and get their job done with minimal to no distractions. It takes the right employee and the right mindset to do that. But that's definitely something that I've found that you can encompass, and you can embrace for it to work for both the employer and the employee.
As an employer:
You want to make sure the systems that you're putting in place give you full visibility as to what they're doing. That could be things like analytical data where you're able to see how many phone calls they've been making a day, how many reports they've been creating. It obviously depends on the industry. If you're a mechanic and you normally get a certain amount of cars through the shop, and you've decided to start up a mobile service, when you minus the travel time and the minimal tool sets, are they reasonably as efficient as what they would have been if someone took their car in for a general service? Making sure that you've got key performance indicators to measure up against what they're doing, verse what you'd expect the results to be.
For any business that's more digitally based such as accountants, solicitors, bookkeepers, IT professionals or any other business where the tool of choice is a computer, you're able to use tools such as Time Doctor, ObserveIT, Time Maniac and a plethora of others that let you record the times that they're spending on different tasks. It shows you how active their mouse and keyboard were, and gives you a screenshot to give you an idea of what were they doing.
Obviously if they're reading the latest legal document that you've sent through, it's going to give you a different idea as to the number of keystrokes and mouse scrolls that they're doing. But having a screenshot there shows you, "Okay, I understand. They're currently reading a legal document" gives you another tool in your tool belt that makes it easy to make the decision as to whether or not they're working as they should be.
One of the main things that I found always works is having key performance indicators that give you the insight, and give you the knowledge as to where they're standing, and they can then try and match and exceed those for different rewards.
In closing, as long as you have the right systems in place I believe that a remote workforce is more efficient, more cost effective and it by far makes for a much better workplace that does not hinder productivity.