The flexibility and freedom that remote work provides might actually be what employers fear the most. Remote work poses many questions and concerns for leadership. If an employee is left to their own devices, will their work get done? If they aren’t in the office every day, will they feel like a part of the team? Will they understand the culture of the company or its vision? Will they build loyalty to the company or will they leave after a few months?
Wil Reynolds, the founder and Director of Strategy at SEER, is unabashedly against hiring full-time remote employees. He refers to himself as a culture junkie and believes his focus on office culture is what contributes to his company’s high employee retention. In his blog, he cites the #1 reason why he doesn’t hire remote employees is that he can’t high-five them if they’re not in the office. To him, it is the physical experience that resonates with his employees. From the audible sound of hands slapping to his enthusiastic “Great work!” that makes others in the office wonder “wow, what did they do?”. It's a public affirmation that isn’t as impactful if it comes through an instant message or email.
Remember that employees in the office may also feel disconnected to remote workers, not just the other way around. The Harvard Business Review polled 1,153 employees that work at least some of the time from their home office, and 52% said they “worry that coworkers say bad things behind their backs, make changes to projects without telling them in advance, lobby against them, and don’t fight for their priorities.” A solution is to make remote employees’ work extremely transparent, everyone should know what their responsibilities and accomplishments are. Be sure to recognize and award remote workers and publicize it to everyone in the office. It’s also a great idea to set up retreats for remote workers and office workers to interact. Jay Bear, the founder of Convince & Convert brings his team together every year, 2 days of strategic planning and 2 days of fun.
Another popular concern is if remote workers can be just as productive as office workers. Popular culture often paints remote workers as pajama-clad, watching Netflix all day, only working for small pockets of time throughout the day. Can people really be productive at home, in a coffee shop, or in a shared workspace surrounded by strangers?
Since temptations to slack off exist both at home and in the office, it really comes down to the individual worker. But work from home may have an edge over office time. Because if you’re at home, you might distribute your work throughout the day when you feel most productive, instead of in the typical 9 to 5 window. In fact, a 2 year Stanford experiment found that people working from home experienced 13% more output compared to their counterparts in the office, that’s almost a full day of work’s worth. Impressively, quit rates dropped by 50!
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