Many of us still commute to the office almost every day, and expect our employees to do so as well. Perhaps we think remote jobs are reserved for contract work, or that flexible working hours are a nice-to-have for new parents. But those ideas are outdated, and if we hold on too tightly to them, we could miss out on the talent our organizations need to succeed now and in the future.
Here are some common misconceptions about remote work along with suggestions on combating them:
“My employees will slack off, watch TV, and not get their work done if they aren’t working in the office.” In fact, what remote workers are more prone to is over working. When an employee’s performance is measured by their output, their participation on phone calls, and the overall quality of their work, performance is what they focus on. Satisfaction increases when employees know their work matters, as does the quality of work employees produce.
“I won’t be able to build a cohesive team if everyone is working remotely.” Can you think of the last time you worked in the office with your team and spoke with them face-to-face to get all your work done? Probably not. We’re already doing most of our work from our computers, and where those desks and screens are located makes no difference in performance. Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams allow teams to work quickly and efficiently. And as for team-building, remote workers tend to get even more excited about a team gathering, since they’ve had time to miss their colleagues. That helps make retreats even more productive and rewarding.
“Employees who have worked here for years would be resentful if new employees are offered a much easier way to work so soon.” This mindset—that more established employees expect newer employees to “pay their dues” before they should be allowed the “privilege” of working from home—assumes two things. First, it suggests that more tenured employees are bitter about their own working schedules and about newer workers. If that is true, then offering them the chance to work remotely might help them develop a healthier mindset. Second, it assumes that working remotely is something employees should earn. Remote work gives companies the chance to dramatically reduce costs (in hiring, salaries, office space, office perks, commuter reimbursements, etc.), and it’s often in a company’s best interest to have large remote teams.
From an employee working one day at home per month, to an employee working permanently from another state or country in her home office, the realities of flexible work schedules vary. But what remains constant is the fact that flexibility is becoming an increasingly high priority as employees consider their career options. As HR professionals, it’s our job to see that employee engagement and wellbeing, and therefore overall business success are often tied to our ability to offer flexible work arrangements.
To take a deeper dive into important HR topics like employee wellbeing, engagement, retention, recruitment, and more, join the Josh Bersin Academy today.