One of the biggest questions on the minds of office workers today is, ”Why do I have to come back to the office? I can do my work just as effectively from home. No need for me to come back.”
This was gotten from a recent LinkedIn post from Apple – “People are leaving the organization, and people are petitioning to stay at home. They believe there is no reason to come back to the office.”
What do you think?
I have been working remotely for most of the past 30 years. Effectively? Yes. But that remote work also included many in-person visits and meetings as well. It was important to sit across from people and pick their brains. It was important to go to a meeting and have some sidebars and personal discussions with people (stuff you just can’t do on Zoom. Yes, technically, you can do it).
Technology has made so much of the process a possibility. If this pandemic had hit us just ten years ago, we would never have been able to work through it the way we have. From a technology standpoint, yes, working remotely is very effective.
But the question is, “Is technology all there is to working remotely?” The answer, of course, is no, it is not. Working remotely requires a different headset from not just the worker but also the leadership team.
I remember working 20 years ago in moving people to a remote work environment and how hard it was to convince leadership that it would increase productivity.
Back to the question, can you work as well remotely as you can in the office?
- Relationship building can be done remotely, but …
I have successfully built many relationships remotely, worked with people in coaching and sales I have never met physically. So the first answer is yes. But it does have its problems.
When we work remotely, we lose 50% or more of our feedback. Even when you are working with a tool such as Zoom, you still lose it. This will require you to work harder to build those relationships, and again, some people do it very well, others do not. You have to become an excellent listener to make it work.
- It can get very lonely at home
Just a fact of life.
When you work in an office and you are frustrated, tired, angry, or just hit a roadblock, you can get up and visit a co-worker.
You can go in and see your boss.
You can go to the breakroom and have a cup of coffee and a conversation.
When you work at home, and you are the only one there, it is lonely.
You have to learn how to do those things remotely.
Pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Walk outside and talk with someone on your cell phone.
If anyone is home, go and visit for a few.
I like to visit with my dog myself.
- You need measurements.
You cannot see what a person is doing; this has always been the big roadblock with leadership. But how do I know they are doing what I expect?
How do you know in the office?
Pay close attention, and many people are not working that well in the office.
You need to measure.
What are they doing?
What do you expect them to do?
Define when they need to come in.
Determine if they meet your requirement or exceed them. Know if they are asking for more work.
Then it really is no different than being in the office, is it?
I love those people I can never seem to give enough to, but they always ask for more work. Who cares if they are remote or in-house?
- Not everyone is cut out to work remotely.
Many people love to go to work in a different place.
Many people love the interaction, adventure, and process.
What can you do for them?
We keep hearing about the people who do not want to go back to the office. What about all those who do want to go back to the office?
If you are hiring a new employee, it is easy because you define “remote,” “in office,” or “a hybrid.”
But what about those people who already work for you?
Some people like going to the office, they love working that way. What is in this for them?
- How do you lead remote workers? This is the final question for today.
“I have a hard time leading those that work in the office for me every day. Now you want me to lead people who I cannot even see?”
This is one of the real questions that is being asked.
What have you done to address it?
Are you helping those who have to lead remote workers to become better at it?
When I have people in the office, I can watch them, help them, and get a feel for what they do. But how do I do that same thing for the remote worker? How can I get a feel for what they are doing?
Stay tuned. We are doing more research and will be addressing this point in more detail soon.
For now, remember, they are your team, and you have to lead them. Work your relationship with them the same way you would if they were here. Just use technology to make it easier.