Remote working is nothing new, it has been around for a while although I feel it is become more and more acceptable as the norm in some companies. It is said that remote, flexible workers tend to be happier and more loyal employees. Working from home has been shown to lower stress, improve personal relationships, and provide time for hobbies and interests. It often allows employees to feel they have more autonomy over their workday, which can also increase their productivity.
Although with the positives, there sometimes comes negatives. The negatives are not what you may think, they have to do with the culture around remote working and also what may eventuate if you do not provide opportunities to interact in a variety of settings (home office and site office). In many organisations remote working is still seen as a bad thing. I’ve had managers who outright banned it because of past employees not doing the right things. This is often due to a lack of visibility around their workload, their outputs and how they provide value. Without a structure to make it successful, like anything it will fail to drive the right outcomes and opportunities.
There are many stories I am sure that you have heard or have experienced, I have seen many good ones and many bad ones. I thought I would share a couple of my own experiences.
SITUATION 1: NO ONE CAN WORK FROM HOME
I once worked for a manager, who in my first week I found out that they were adamant that no-one would be allowed to work from home. I knew this because I asked to work from home to provide access to a plumber attending our premises and was told to just ‘take the day off’. Now, over time working with this manager, it was apparent his previous negative experiences with remote working in previous teams.
A few bad apples can ruin it for everyone
SITUATION 2: MANAGER TURNED DETECTIVE
In other organisations, I’ve seen first hand and was only just speaking to people who have the same problem, where their manager allows working from home, but then becomes a detective. They attempt to ‘catch you out’, they are pinging you on your organisations messaging app, trying to call you, or checking when you ‘appear online’.
Don’t undermine your employees and cause damage to your relationship
CATERING FOR WORKING PARENTS, VOLUNTEERS & THE CURIOUS!
I’ve been running Agile Management Officefor three years and during my time running this business, we have spent everyday of our business trialling new things from ways of working, technologies, techniques and even remote working. Our small team of ten often has to spend time on client sites, other times, they are required to attend company meetings. Sometimes they need to work from home, and for some of us we spend some days volunteering for organisations like the SES and beyondblue. As a leader and a manager, I have had to work with my team to build a model that can suit the variety of needs of our team, but never losing sight of our main focus; our customers.
Support your team, they will be forever loyal
INTRODUCING TRUST WORKING
Trust working is about providing an environment where everyone works based on trust and accountability and not monitored based on their location, employees are part of our circle of trust. It shouldn’t matter where your team is working (I say this as a I write this article in a CBD cafe as I await my next client meeting). It should matter that they are accountable, that they are well informed of your strategic objectives, that they are performing their roles and delivering the agreed upon results and that they are trusted.
After all, without trust what do you have?
It has taken me a few years to build up the confidence to introduce a model of Trust Working, but that is because as a manager, I have had to ensure we have the environment to support it. Trust working allows our team to deliver results in a way that best suits them without compromising the delivery of outcomes for our customers and our business. It is something we’ve done in our business over the last three years with great success!
TOP TIPS FOR MAKING TRUST WORKING SUCCESSFUL
SAME RULES FOR EVERYONE
Everyone is on a level playing field. The same rules apply for all employees, no special treatment for one over the other. The Trust Work model involves all teams understanding the rules upfront and agreeing to them.
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Ensure you have some clear boundaries, for example in our business we have project teams on client sites, these client sites are often requiring us to be present to answer questions that may come up and support the day to day teams. Therefore our teams coordinate between themselves to ensure their is adequate coverage across the working week onsite for our customers.
If you don’t set clear boundaries for your team to follow, they will make their own rules
Whether or not your team admits it, they need adequate face-time and an opportunity to meet like-minded people. They need somewhere to go to socialise, exchange ideas and drive outcomes with the greater team.
If you don’t provide ample opportunities for your team to work remotely and onsite together, you face them becoming disengaged and feeling isolated
CLEARLY DEFINED OUTCOMES
Does your team know what your organisational strategic objectives are and how they fit in to the bigger picture? How their role will support completion of these objectives? What you expect from them? You need to ensure you have clearly (and regularly reviewed) outcomes for your team to follow, otherwise they will not know where they are going and get easily distracted.
Prevent distraction, provide a path and the guardrails for your team
DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE MODEL TO SUPPORT TRUST WORKING
How do you know if your team is delivering? How do you know if your team is under or over performing? Do you have effective measures and metrics in place to assist you in measuring performance? You need to ensure your organisational governance model also works for your employees.
Build a model to ensure people are accountable and set up for success
COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE
Getting together is critical to ensure your team do not get bored or feel isolated. So try to do this as often as possible, say every week and run monthly sessions to get together and elaborate on ideas. Use daily collaboration techniques like stand ups, check-ins and reporting to maintain an eye on progress as you move through your days.
DO YOU AGREE? IF SO, SHARE THIS ARTICLE. LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS.
If you’d like to know more about Trust Working and developing solutions for your teams, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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