No good employer wants to make their employees lives unnecessarily difficult. Beyond the obvious reason that your job is genuinely impossible to do remotely, there is another good reason why your boss might not be granting your request to work from home: infrastructure.
There is quite a bit of work to be done to support employees working from home and some businesses are simply reluctant to acquire the resources needed to prepare for the sweeping change. In fact, many managers find it challenging to manage remote workers so they simply choose not to offer or allow working from home or even flexible schedules. However, times are changing and remote work has become increasingly popular.
Working from home successfully is based on three core principles: communication, coordination, and culture. Communication is the ability to share and exchange information, coordination is the ability to work together toward a shared goal, and culture is a shared set of customs that foster engagement and trust.
In order for employees to work from home successfully, businesses must create clear processes that support each of these core principles.
It can be quite tough to explain complex ideas in a virtual environment – especially if people are not able to ask questions, share opinions and have discussions in real time. The lack of face-to-face interaction limits one’s ability to read body language and pick up social cues which may lead to misunderstandings and even conflict.
The best way to avoid misinterpretation is to match the message with the medium. In many cases, to effectively share information that is complex, it is important to not only read body language, but hear tone and inflection. For those purposes, teleconferencing is available! When you are not able to chat face-to-face, discussions over video chat are ideal.
Coordinating employees who work from home can sometimes feel like choreographing a group of blindfolded dancers. Everyone should be working in harmony, but in many cases, people often don’t know what others are doing and how everything fits together in one great big routine. That is why it’s so crucial to create formal processes that simulate the informal ways workers touch base with each other when they are physically together, like stopping by at a colleague’s desk to say hello for example or grabbing a bite to eat at lunch. These little interactions serve as course corrections and without them, it is much more likely that people will wander astray.
To get rid of this problem, business owners and managers should not only clearly articulate the mission, create detailed project plans, assign responsibilities, and establish performance metrics, but they should also document all that in a repository that’s easily accessed offsite. You will need to be disciplined about keeping documents current and enforce these processes until they are completely assimilated.
Culture is an important core principle that is especially critical for virtual teams and individuals who work from home. Since these employees rarely ever meet with their teammates face-to-face, they tend to focus on specific tasks while completely ignoring the team. Sure, this may work for a little while, but it is crucial to your business to establish trust and develop a culture in order to foster engagement and sustain employees performance over the long run to keep them focused.
Implementing remote work successfully can be difficult because it requires a thoughtful strategy and reliable execution, but when it is done well, the reward is high. Businesses that do not have set processes in place to support the three core principles – communication, coordination, and culture – should avoid working remote.