I know what you’re thinking. How do MANAGERS benefit when their workers aren’t in the office?
We know a few benefits the workers themselves get from it. But managers? Part of their job is making sure those workers do their job. If I can’t call someone into my office, or go drop by their desk…how do I know they’re actually working?
(Believe it or not, that sort of perspective actually creates a benefit for remote workers. I’ll explain shortly.)
The answer is, it’s easy to know. Plus, you as a manager can derive as much value from remote work as your employees. Let’s find out what kind of value, shall we?
I’ll start with the immediate benefits for employees. Bear with me; there’s a method to my madness.
Immediate Benefits to Working Remotely for Employees
1. Remote Work Ends the “Someone’s Watching Me” Atmosphere
Do you do your best work when someone’s watching?
You’re sitting at your desk, typing away…and you feel it. The weighty sensation behind your head. That tickle on your neck. The invisible pressure of eyes. You turn your head, and sure enough, there’s your boss. Staring at you like some tenth-story gargoyle.
Distracting, isn’t it? Of course it is. No one performs their best under scrutiny. Yet when we’re working, we want to do good work. So “someone’s watching me” becomes a lingering sandbag. Flattening our productivity at random.
Not in the office? No chance of someone staring at you. No distraction.
2. Improved Co-Worker Communication
When working remotely, how do you check with a co-worker on their progress? Maybe you need some input on the new customer’s sales report. Frank will have that…but you can’t get up & walk over to Frank’s desk. You’re at home, and so is he. (For purposes of this post, I’m assuming you don’t live together.)
You’ll need to check in with Frank, and other co-workers, frequently. For remote workers, there’s plenty of ways to do that. Most are even faster than walking between cubicle rows.
In pretty much all remote-work situations, I advocate teams use project management software like Trello or Asana. Or chat apps like Slack. These platforms provide easy-to-use communications methods. Checking in with Frank only takes a short Slack message, a comment on Asana, an email, a phone call…take your pick.
More importantly, the inability to walk across an office makes each & every worker aware of the need to communicate. How’s that a benefit? The awareness actually leads to BETTER communication.
Since you have to check with co-workers, you’ll work out ways to do this quickly & clearly. Whatever gets you the needed information fast, so you (and Frank) can get back to work. Now you have new communication habits, short and frequent.
3. No More Commute.
Yes, this one’s obvious. But it’s definitely a benefit, for work as well as life.
Gaining back hours spent in commute results in longer/better-quality sleep. How many of you are chronically sleep-deprived? It wrecks your productivity…not to mention quality of life.
You also have more time available for work (and for life). How’s that anything but a benefit?
Hold on managers. Don’t reach for the heart meds just yet. While these might sound like one-sided benefits, they’re not. In fact they benefit you too…in important ways.
I’ll demonstrate by clarifying another aspect of the very same benefits.
Immediate Benefits to Working Remotely for Managers
1. Focus Shifts to Work Progress
Since the “someone’s watching me” atmosphere isn’t possible anymore, what’s left? The work. For you and for them. Nothing gets in the way of (or distracts from) accomplishing the work.
You can still check in on employees easily. Use the same communications tools they use. Most have a “Presence” status indicator. It’s usually a colored dot indicating when they’re Available, Busy, in a Call or Meeting, etc. One glance and you confirm Frank is hard at work.
If you don’t see his status, well, there’s always the phone.
2. More Efficient Workflow (For You!)
With employee communication improving among each other, you’ll notice a curious, but appreciable absence from your workday.
What happens to all those times you’re working, and someone stops by to ask YOU a question? Something their co-worker knows already, or they could find out in a few minutes?
They stop happening.
Think about that. Dozens, maybe hundreds of micro-disruptions during your daily workflow…gone! (Or at least massively cut down.) You could gain hours of productive time back, without doing a thing.
3. Can’t/Don’t Want to Go in Today? Don’t!
I’ll tell you a not-well-kept secret. Managers can telecommute too.
You’re just as reachable as employees, using the same tools to get the work done. (I’ll review a bunch of those tools on the blog soon, don’t worry.) You also can focus on your work, and enjoy the same productivity boost.
Maybe you need to take your son to the doctor? No reason to head to the office, then back home to get him, and then over to the doctor’s. You’re just wasting time driving back and forth…time you could spend working.
By the way, these are just 3 IMMEDIATE benefits to working remotely. More do exist, both in short- and long-term. I’ll go into detail on all of them in future posts.
For now…what’s one question you have regarding remote work? Please ask it in the comments. I want this blog to answer as many of your questions as possible.