In today’s environment, millions of employers are requiring employees to work from home to stay safe during COVID-19. While it may not be the easiest transition, and there’s definitely a learning curve, studies have shown that the positives of working from home outweigh the negatives. There’s a lot to gain from setting up your teams to work from home. Just look at the statistics:
- For American workers, 59 percent revealed that they feel productive when working remotely. And 63 percent admitted to being more likely to take a job with a remote work option.
- Over the last five years remote work grew 44% and over the previous 10 years it grew 91%.
- 85% of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their company because of greater flexibility.
- 65% of respondents are more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace.
It’s time to bite the bullet — for your business and your employees. Here are a few myths and how to approach them with your leadership team, managers and employees.
Myth 1: “Working from home is more distracting and employees are less productive when someone isn’t overseeing them.”
One of the most concerning myths for leaders and managers when it comes to implementing remote work policies, is that their employees will be more distracted and less productive. Just like working in an office, there are pros and cons to flexible work. While many employees might find the transition difficult at first, and find they are distracted by social media, television, their pets or family members or even the close proximity to the fridge, once employees are used to the change in pace, many claim to be even more productive without the many social distractions or natural conversations (compared to scheduled calls and meetings) that arise during the day.
Tip: Have managers schedule regular one-on-ones and ensure teams schedule regular group meetings via GoToMeeting. Face-to-face interactions and regular check-ins will hold everyone accountable. While everyone’s workplace may be flexible, make sure everyone’s schedules align somewhat closely and timing is more strict.
Myth 2: “Remote workers can’t develop meaningful working relationships with colleagues.”
Many organizations worry that implementing remote work will dampen or diminish the company culture they’ve nurtured for so long. They fear that employees will be unable to or will stop putting forth the effort to develop meaningful working relationships with their colleagues because they don’t see them in the halls or have desk conversations. And we’re not here to say it’s not lonely. It can be! But it is possible (and easy) to help work-from-anywhere employees foster healthy relationships and great communication.
Tip: Managers and leaders should set expectations around communication — both work and play. If your company uses chat applications such as Slack, create fun channels for employees to talk about their love of animals, sports, gardening, or whatever common threads bring people together. And during one-on-ones, managers should be advised to reach out to their teams members casually and get to know them before diving head first into business. It’s as easy as asking what they did over the weekend!
Myth 3: “Working from home gives employees better work-life balance.”
I know what you’re thinking — this doesn’t sound positive! But hear us out. If you plan on transitioning a team of workers from the office to remote work, you can expect many employees to struggle with their schedule. It’s easy to maintain work–life separation when you commute to an office and back. There is a distinct partition between the two, and many people turn their work brains off at 5:00pm when they head home.
When you work from home, the line between work life and home life is a lot more blurry and it’s easy for people to overwork or to slack on their work. However, many people that are accustomed to working from home have mastered the balance. It takes practice and good, supportive management.
Tip: Communication is key. Leaders and managers should reach out frequently for check-ins and offer assistance if needed. During weekly check-ins they should see how their employees’ schedules look that week and encourage the use of different applications to help them navigate and settle in to a healthy routine.
Myth 4: “Working remote is boring and lonely.”
Office politics may be irksome, but some may prefer this to radio silence. Even on the worst days in an office, many people can turn to a coworker they get along with or look forward to a catered lunch.
But working from home shouldn’t be boring and doesn’t have to be lonely. Employees should be chatting regularly through the use of email, chat applications and video conferences (face-to-face communication is the best antidote for remote loneliness). These tools should be readily available to them and policies should be put in place to encourage their use.
Tip: Give your employees access to the best remote work software. It should be intuitive, capable of integrating with all the tools you use regularly, and enable meetings, chat, calls, webinars, video and more. You may also consider sharing tips and tricks on an internal site or Slack channel about how to switch up your routine if things are feeling dull (10-minute yoga or dog walks). And setting up a virtual hub – or a channel — where remote workers can go to virtually “chat around the water cooler” and meet and get to know new people. You may even consider doing spotlights or highlighting fun facts about people to start conversations.
We’re here to help
We understand many employers are kicking off a remote work policy in response to a global pandemic, which are stressful and scary circumstances. But we also expect many of these organizations to see positive returns in this transition to a remote workforce. The future of work is flexible, and it will deliver increased productivity, efficiency, and fulfillment to your company and your employees.
For help transitioning to a remote workforce, check out our remote work resource page. We are also offering free remote work services for those at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis – including healthcare, education, municipalities, and more.