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In 2013, Stanford University conducted a study that randomly assigned employees at a call center to work from home and others to work in the office for nine months. The result was a 13% performance increase by those working from home, of which 9% was from working more hours.
People criticize remote work because they find it difficult to measure the number of hours their employees are working. What they forget is that going into the office does not equal productive work.
On the average workday, office employees are interrupted, or self-interrupted, every three minutes. On the back end of that, recovery time from the interruption takes an additional two-three minutes. You can begin to see where your employees focus (and your payroll) goes. While there is no one-size fits all approach to offering remote work to your employees, people with the freedom to work where they want and begin to re-think the 9-5 working style. By adopting a culture of trust and respect, you’re empowering individuals not just to show up, but to show results. As with most things in business, your approach is everything.
Keep your nose to the grindstone
When it comes to acquiring talent, we hear all the time to hire the best people. Often, however, finding this pool of people is no easy feat. That said, the companies that embrace telecommuting have a significant advantage over those that haven’t figured it out. For each candidate that is available to work in your city, there are hundreds more around the world that can do it better and cheaper. Hiring top talent is already hard enough as it is, why limit the most critical ingredient for the success of your business?
Results first approach
It’s not only a unique skill set needed by your leadership team, but also a different mindset. The focus needs to be on autonomy, trusting the decisions made by your organization, improving communication skills, and, most importantly, hiring people who can be accountable for their results. Your interview process for remote employees should be identical to that of someone you physically see every day.
See also: Congrats! You're a Manager. What Now?
Listen to the numbersIf we approach this from a fiscal perspective, remote workers are more cost-effective mainly because salary expectations in certain places are soaring. By bringing remote workers onto your team, you can tap into other, less inflated, labor markets. Moreover, people get more stuff done. Workers who can work remotely are more productive, report less absenteeism, and are, generally, happier. These factors help make people more productive while also saving you money.
Don't fear what you don't understandDespite the benefits for companies, many refuse to hire remote workers. I attribute this to a lack of knowledge by managers and leaders on how to deal with remote workers. When you have employees on site, you can keep a close eye on them and watch how they interact with their peers, customers, and tackle tasks. Being a remote boss requires a specific skill set and a different perspective:
- First, being a virtual boss means you need to be comfortable with technology and know how to use it in a way that not only enables communication but builds relationships. Consider using platforms such as Slack or Trello to have the opportunity to communicate with your team and oversee work.
- Everyone is busy in their own right, and the pace we set can quickly compound the isolation that comes with remote work. A great way to decide whether a situation requires a phone call or an email is to receive regular feedback from your team that gauges their mood, identifies challenges they face, and tries to focus in on opportunities they have been able to locate. Monitoring feedback in this way will help you focus on crucial conversations that need to happen. It will also allow setting metrics for performance.
- Setting a schedule where remote workers can meet up with their team leaders, as well as their team members to discuss projects and climate. Having a regular schedule avoids the stress caused by too much communication.
Read next: How to Hire your First Employee
The bottom line
It’s inevitable that more and more skilled workers will adapt to a remote working lifestyle, and it’s the companies that can accommodate the lifestyles of these talents that will become the market leaders in the future. If you want to know if your company is right for remote work and if you are ready to take advantage of its benefits, you need to ask yourself if you have the right employees, the right leadership, and the right mindset.
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