A Lovely Picnic Topic: Remote Work
A friend of mine was recently enjoying a picnic lunch in New York City’s Central Park with five young professionals – a fashion designer, an engineer, two television producers and a teacher who works with autistic students – when the subject of remote work came up. The fashion designer and teacher had returned to in-person work full-time, while the engineer continued to work strictly remotely and the two producers had a hybrid schedule of several days in the office and several days working from home.
The opinions these five had on remote work policies were as varied as the men and women themselves. The designer, who was required to be in the office five days a week, envied those who were able to work from home – even if just for a day or two. The two producers with the hybrid schedules preferred working remotely over going into the office, citing more flexibility, increased productivity and cost savings, among other benefits.
The conversation was intriguing to my friend because it demonstrated that remote work policies and opinions toward them are as murky and controversial today as they were in the early days of the pandemic. But it seems one thing is certain, remote work is here to stay.
Here to Stay?
“What is abundantly clear is that there are fewer and fewer companies expecting their employees to be in the office five days a week,” said Brian Kropp, a vice president with the information technology research and advisory company, Gartner, in a New York Times interview. “Even some of the major companies that came out and said ‘We want our employees in the office five days a week’ are starting to backtrack.”
The trend toward working remotely was growing even before the Covid pandemic pushed it into high gear. Technology that allows individuals and organizations to conduct their business online and from anywhere in the world continues to evolve and improve, further securing the future of remote work, not only as an option, but also a tool to ensure companies retain current employees and attract the right people for the job, no matter where they are located.
A Gray Topic Turned Technicolor
So why is the subject of remote work still so gray? Because, like today’s work force and job market, there is no one-size-fits-all policy for deciding what works best for businesses and their employees. That’s why it’s important for businesses and organizations to have clear policies and established guidelines for working remotely.
Some of the best resources to tap when establishing the right path for you and your employees are your very own managers and staff. Solicit their feedback on what is working now, what needs to be improved and what needs to go. Get their candid feedback, listen to it and go from there. Still, be prepared that the direction you choose may not please everyone.
Some other factors to consider when implementing a remote work policy:
- Set goals and expectations and clearly communicate those goals and expectations to everyone in your organization
- Take steps to ensure the policy is fair and equitable across the organization
- Provide the appropriate resources to enable a productive remote work force
- Manage performance and measure outcomes to determine if your organization is moving in the right direction
- Establish processes and procedures for positive and productive collaboration, for both in-person and remote employees
- Revisit your policies and guidelines frequently to ensure they are growing and changing along with your business
Having an established remote work policy with buy-in from employees at all levels will provide a strong foundation for a productive and collaborative remote work force moving forward.