By: Jason Fried
When you think about work, you probably think of an office, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. A worker behind every desk, typing away on a computer. Afternoon meetings in the conference room to discuss projects. Gossip at the water cooler and lunch at your desk.
That model is a product of the industrial revolution. Technology and our economy have changed. Your business needs to change too.
New ways of sharing information mean that sitting in an office from 9 to 5 is no longer necessary to get things done.
Allowing employees to work remotely is a great way for companies to keep the best and brightest.
When your business can hire remote workers, you gain access to a larger talent pool. World-class talent becomes easier to reach.
Your current employees want flexibility. Their email is already connected to their phones and they are responding after hours to get projects across the finish line. Remote work is the natural next step.
Remote work gives employees the freedom to be productive and have a life outside the office.
It is ridiculous for an employee to have to take PTO to be at home to meet a plumber, or take 45 minutes to pick their kids up from school. Your office is not a daycare where you babysit kids by making sure they are at their desks putting in 40 hours a week. Time spent in the office should not be what you measure, output is what you measure. What are they getting done and what quality is delivered is what should be measured.
IF YOU ARE SCARED THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WILL NOT GET THEIR WORK DONE BECAUSE YOU CANNOT SEE THEM, YOU HAVE A HIRING PROBLEM.
If your people are getting the job done, it doesn’t matter where they are.
If your people have always dreamed of traveling the world, they don’t have to wait until they are 65. Do it now! Imagine the talent you could attract.
Working remotely improves the quality of work done by eliminating common office distractions.
Can you remember a time you really needed to buckle down and complete a project? You came in early before anyone else was there so you could focus without distractions and get into the zone or “flow”.
Flow is what you want to create. So much of office culture opposes flow. The constant poking of heads into your office to ask questions that could be an email. The morning cup of coffee that winds up taking 45 minutes because the peanut gallery ropes you into a conversation. The 30 minute commute each way. All of those things take away from flow.
Test the waters and take it slow to see whether remote work really works for your company.
Owners and managers resist trying because of fear and the illusion of control they have by seeing their people. Spoiler alert…your people are still playing candy crush in your office when you can see their heads.
Or perhaps you don’t think it is fair because some jobs can’t participate.
There are some roles that just cannot work remotely. Manufacturing jobs must occur onsite. Customer service jobs must occur in working hours. But most of the rest can and should so you can keep and hire the best.
Is it scary to go all in immediately?
You want to ease into it and give it a proper chance. A common tactic is to give it 3 months at 2 days per week. Most companies land on a hybrid approach with some days in the office and some out with a handful of 100% remote employees.
You already have a handful of third parties that are 100% remote like lawyers, accountants, and marketing. This is not that different.
Make sure that effective collaboration is nurtured between employees and with clients.
There needs to be overlap in working hours to allow time to properly communicate with everyone. Build this time intentionally. Have different modes of communication based on urgency. Emails, texts, and phone calls all have a different sense of urgency.
If you remove your ego, most of your communication is not urgent and can be an email that is responded to within 24 hours.
Building your company culture and team still needs to happen. Your culture should not be one of time in the office but one of meaningful and productive work with priority given to life outside of the office. We expect our employees to add value to the life of our business, so we should add value to the lives of our employees.
Some remote workers can get caught in the trap of working too much, and then burn out.
Being constantly connected means that it can be tempting to constantly work. Some late night down time can easily turn into work and not taking necessary breaks.
It is important to develop KPIs for every single role so they can truly unplug and know that they are doing good work.
Try out 3 months of 2 days a week of remote work for your team. Time in the office will be much more precious and productive.