If Remote Work Is Not Working, You Might be Doing it Wrong
One New York Times article explores the ways in which companies are adjusting to remote working. If you or your company are struggling to work from home well, there’s a chance you could be missing these key pointers.
Working from home is going well for some and not well for others. However, there is a general trend among most Americans currently working remotely that suggests remote work is going well, and people want to continue doing so after the pandemic.
If you or your company is struggling to operate and manage a remote workforce, you might want to check out these tips from experts from a New York Times article. Researchers have found some key ways that employers and managers can adjust workplace routines to best help workers and the company.
The biggest mistake companies are making with their remote workers is that white-collar offices have carried over the same conventions from the physical office. Many are realizing that this does not work well.
For remote workers, companies need to change the way they work, and in some cases, utilize new routines and methods of managing a workforce. It is also crucial to remember that most people’s work-from-home situations are not typical remote work because we are in the middle of a pandemic—which adds extra stressors to the worker.
“There’s a natural pull, even in these times, not to figure out how to operate in this new world but how to replicate the old world in the new conditions,” said Leslie Perlow, a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School. “The longer this goes on, my optimism increases because I think people are being forced to figure out innovative ways.”
Still, workers are generally satisfied with remote work. In most surveys most say that even when it is safe for offices to reopen, they want to return only part of the time and continue working remote several days a week. This means employers will need to really rethink and reinvent the ways they reach their workers and facilitate workplace culture.
For many companies, solutions include adjusting meeting agendas, allowing workers to be more flexible with work hours and finding balances between the company’s and the workers’ needs.
For example, Microsoft is allowing workers to build their work schedule how they see fit for themselves but restricting internal meetings to a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. period to accommodate people on both coasts and allow people to schedule time for childcare needs.
The article lists five things executives and researchers can change for remote office work to work well:
Distinguish Time for Work and Non-Work
For some people, working from home can mean difficulty separating home life from work life. Companies should encourage workers to get in a work-from-home routine where there is a designated start and end to the day. Employers and managers also need to focus more on the work that gets done rather than on the time spent logged on, and make clear that they do not expect messages to be answered immediately.
Judge Performance, Not the Schedule
Related is the idea that employers need to focus on the work done instead of the number of hours workers spend in the “office” or online. Give the worker an assignment, let them know a deadline and leave it up to them to figure out “how” to best get it done.
Not all meetings are really necessary. You should decide on which meetings are most needed and replace others with check-ins, phone calls and even emails. Add in breaks for long meetings, and try to keep meetings short.
Office friendships are important to workplace culture, and they can also help productivity levels. Employers and managers should facilitate opportunities for workers to have video chats or phone calls or even socially distant walks so they can talk not only about work, but about life as well.
Remote work can make people feel excluded and out of the loop. If you have remote employees, you need to make an effort to fill them in and build relationships with them. This is especially important for new workers.
Remote work is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it might be growing in popularity. Employers, managers and bosses need to recognize that in-office systems do not work well for remote workforces, and adapt accordingly.