Increasingly, companies are re-thinking the 9-5 office workday in favor of more flexible policies that give employees the freedom to work from wherever they want. Although allowing employees to work from home can complicate the logistics of managing direct reports and having team meetings, research indicates that employees who are allowed to work from home tend to be happier and more productive. In the future, as more skilled workers adapt to a remote working lifestyle, it’s likely that the companies that are willing to accommodate these workers will be better-positioned to succeed.
While there are potential drawbacks to a work-from-home culture, productivity studies have found that working remotely, by and large, yields positive results and benefits companies and organizations overall. Evidence still suggests that in most cases, allowing employees to work remotely is hugely beneficial to their well-being, helps businesses attract talent, and lowers attrition. Here are some tips to help you stay focused as you tackle your work from the comfort of your own home:
Work Remotely (in moderation)
A good rule of thumb is to let employees have one to two days a week to work from home. Anecdotal evidence suggests that employees and employers reap the most benefits from telecommuting when it was practiced in moderation–and when workers still had plenty of face time at the office. Too much remote time can breed isolation and among business teams, it can result in the loss of group camaraderie. At the very least, if circumstances do not allow for employees to work together in an office, managers should provide or create opportunities for team members to interact with colleagues.
Flexibility is your friend, but it makes some demands in return. Communicating clearly and frequently with your team, as well as ensuring that all employees convey their availability in a transparent way, is key for business-as-usual in remote circumstances. Although a supervisor’s ability to communicate effectively is always important, in the absence of direct in-person contact it is critical for remote teams to stay in frequent (albeit not constant) contact. Remote teams are most likely to be successful when all team members know what their coworkers are working on. Frequent communication also enables managers to keep tabs on progress being made. When you work from home, your presence won’t necessarily be seen, so it needs to be felt.
Stick to a Routine.
When you work from home, it can be tempting to sleep late, or to escape the burden of schedules. Unless you are a natural-born early riser, however, setting a morning alarm and establishing a daily routine is in your best interest. Creating structure around your day will help you stay organized and motivated.
Whether you work from a home office or set up shop at a local coffee shop, working remotely offers employees the opportunity to choose their own work environment and it can also increase their productivity by eliminating office distractions. Though it requires more effort and intention–and the use of modern technologies that enable remote workers to collaborate and compensate for a lack of in-person contact–it is possible for managers to successfully oversee a remote team. The bottom line? Although there are disadvantages to a remote office setup, employees who are allowed this flexibility tend to be happier and more productive. To me, that seems like a pretty good trade-off.