Working Remotely or Remotely Working?

By Nate Torvik
July 7, 2017

In my last blog on workplace culture, we discussed the overall environment that our team tries to create every day at Site Strategics. We feel that one  big key to overall employee health and happiness is the ability to work from home, plan for that, schedule around it, and really take some time to decompress outside of the workplace. It is not always an easy thing to allow employees to work remotely, whether from home or elsewhere, but Site Strategics feels it’s an important part of our culture. It involves and inspires trust. How does this manifest in your company work culture? Do you believe that people are working remotely in your company, or do you believe that they are remotely working?

remote work
Could you work by a beach? I know I could, and so could your trusted remote employees.

 

I don’t want to get too far into the nitty gritty of stats, opinions and research about remote work just yet. First, I want to address the African elephant (those are the largest kind, right?) in the room and ask, if people aren’t in the office, are they really working? To me, this always sounds like a commonplace question that people ask seemingly facetiously: if a tree falls in the woods anrd no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

People. Of course it makes a sound! Are you kidding?! Similarly, of course those people are working, and if they aren’t, they shouldn’t be working for you!

Let me elaborate. If you are providing a work environment that allows remote work days, you are trusting that your employees will get their work done without big brother watching over their shoulder. You are saying to those employees, “I believe you WILL get your work done no matter where you are.” You are hiring adults, I hope, to fill your positions. You are hiring individuals who actually enjoy their job, want to keep their job, and want to pull their weight for the sake of the client and of the team.

If you aren’t hiring individuals that you can trust to get their work done, no matter if the Eye of Sauron is watching their every move (Lord of the Rings anyone?), then perhaps you should reconsider who you have working for you.

eye of sauron gif
You could certainly imagine how uptight you might be with this looking over your shoulder. Source: Giphy

 

Realistically, as an employer, or someone who has some influence on workplace culture, you should WANT people to be able to work remotely, because that means you trust them. If you are of the belief that they are “remotely working,” that means you aren’t confident that the individual you hired can hit deadlines, communicate well and deliver a quality product day in and day out.

Quality of life is something that we touched on in my last article, so I will again address it in this one. More and more, employees are looking for ways to enhance their lives, not just in the workplace, but outside of it. Many employees, especially in an industry such as digital marketing, see the heavy usage of the internet for communication and work and understand that it’s not an industry that forces you to be chained to a desk.

Nearly every business or home you walk into now has wireless internet and cloud-based solutions, so you can pull up your email, project management software, or task list from anywhere. So when users, in this case potential employees, are looking in one space, why not try to meet them there?

Enabling employees to work remotely gives them all the feeling that they are trusted. You respect them each enough to believe that they will do their work, which makes them feel better about working for you and therefore enhances their work experience. Don’t believe me?

In a study from TINYpulse in 2016, 509 remote employees reported that they were happier at work, felt more valued at work, and had a better relationship with coworkers as remote workers than a grouping of roughly 200,000 employees.

Remote employees are often more productive, too! We all experience in-office interruptions, like  meetings, quick conversations, client fires, etc., that can take your productive work day and transform it into a black hole of getting nothing done. Out of the same 509 respondents, 91 percent reported that they were more productive than in-office counterparts. That’s not exactly a small percentage.

Office Distractions
How often do you feel this way at work? Image source: YESMasters

 

A New York Times article cited a Gallup study that showed employees who worked remotely three to four days per week actually felt MORE engaged with their workplace than those who came into the office every day. I think that speaks more to the feeling of trust that they have with their management team and the overall direction of the company.

In the same Gallup report, 53 percent of employees say that “a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance is ‘very important’ to them when considering whether to take a new job.” That’s important, especially when considering that 51 percent of those same people would change jobs to be given greater freedom and the ability to achieve balance.

Sure, many self-reporting studies can find data that leans one way or another. People who often get to work in a remote environment will likely feel more favorably about that method of work, whereas those who are traditionalists, and believe that work only gets done at the office, will feel differently.

My goal is to educate others while attempting to enhance the workplace for your company. We believe in a certain quality of life and feel that we are on the right track. Do you have questions about how we get things done? Do you want to pick the brain of some of our team members on ways to enhance your workplace? All you need to do is ask!

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