Remote working is an ideal way to be sure you are hiring the best possible talent, recruiting talent from competitors, reducing relocation expenses, and minimizing the impact of a job change on an employee’s family. Mergers, acquisitions, merging up, or takeovers require the industry to rethink the office as the standard corporate meeting place.
Work without Walls is a Microsoft white paper that states, “62 percent of employees believe their productivity increases when they work remotely . . .” Conversely, only 15 percent say their company’s support remote working. There is a definite gap to discuss.
Remote employees have many opportunities to increase productivity. These same employees worry that bosses lose confidence in the employee’s ability to effectively perform as a fully engaged employee if not physically present in the office space.
Following are some pros and cons to remote working. Then I discuss one of the biggest challenges I have seen in the industry regarding the C-Suite and remote working.
- Increased focus: Employees experience minimal in-office distractions and can devote required attention to projects and initiatives.
- More productive time: No commute, or transitioning between environments. The hour to get ready and commute is directed toward project management or team conversations.
- Flexibility for working parents: More family and work time increases the quality of life for employees and their families.
- Increased diversity of talent recruitment: The organization has increased access to high-quality employees when the requirement to work within the organization’s walls is removed or minimized.
- Circadian rhythm in alignment with productive time: Some people are more productive at 4:30 in the morning and others at 9:00 a.m. Do the work when your circadian rhythm is at its peak.
- Ease and Agility: The remote worker reports more ease in their day that enhances their agility and flexibility in delivering on work commitments.
- Office space reallocated: Organizations with tight office space may not need to expand, thereby reducing facility expenses. One client set up hoteling offices for visiting remote workers. The hoteling office has Internet access, desk, lamp, and often four walls for privacy. They are intended for temporary short-term use, two to four hours, typically, and less than a day.
- Ideas suffer from lack of feedback and brainstorming. Innovation is not time-bound to a clock, and when employees only have an hour here or there scheduled for brainstorming, the process can lose its energetic excitement. People who aren’t around each other long enough don’t collaborate on ideas naturally.
- Relationship building suffers: Positive relationships come about in different ways. Some need to be in the same space for long periods of time to build a particular quality of rapport. Others can get there over the phone or through video chat.
- Cyber security: The IT department needs to make sure this is well managed and monitored.
- Workaholics have no respite: Those with work as the priority in life need to set boundaries to ensure their nutrition, exercise, and family relationships are strong.
- Impact on the family: Be in conversation with your family to set appropriate boundaries for your time and workspace. My home workspace has an outside entrance; my conversations are private, and I am not distracted by home noise and activities during my work hours.
- Feeling of isolation – not being in the casual and spur of the moment conversations: You and your employer need to be clear on practices of inclusivity, sharing successes, and a social network at work.
- Decrease in the monitoring of others: If you work remotely more than in the office, be clear on how you monitor your team and what support is needed to ensure success.
Remote Work Challenge
Organizations with a high performing C-Suite* team have more success with working remotely. If your C-Suite operates more in functional units rather than as an executive team, remote working is problematic.
Too often I have seen breakdowns in organizations in which the C-Suite is in conflict and there is a noticeable lack of coordination, collaboration, and communication. Executive teams with high trust and mutual respect and commitment don’t happen by accident. A high-caliber team that operates as one did the work, often with an external facilitator, to create a positive sense of value as a team.
Remote working needs to be secondary to the C-Suite operating in trust. I believe both are doable with the right conditions of success and practices.
*C-Suite: Denotes executives with a chief title, or highest functional level of responsibility, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operations officer, chief marketing officer, etc.
Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC