Wanted: maturity and commitment.
Remote working = Responsibility.
I’ve been attending the online Remote Workforce Summit of 2018 (5 – 10 March) and it got me thinking about my work environment. I’ve been an almost exclusively remote worker for VentureWeb for 10 years now. I think the time-period alone speaks volumes about the success of arrangement, but I want to highlight one of the fundamental aspects that has made it work for both me and VentureWeb.
Listening to some of the interviews in the summit, it’s clear that remote working is a growing trend and something that many companies and workers are looking at, if not already engaged in. However, before even thinking about the practicalities, processes and technologies involved in enabling remote working, there must be a certain level of maturity and commitment from both employer and employee.
If an employer wants to make remote working an option for employees, it needs a certain level of maturity and commitment to the process. You can’t expect to manage remote workers in the same way as office-bound workers. Many of the traditional ways of managing and measuring performance simply don’t apply or work. Expecting them to is a mistake, and here’s where maturity and commitment come in. Employers need to be mature enough to change how they manage and measure employees; and committed enough to give it time to work while they figure it out. It’s no good trying it out for a short period of time and giving up on it. It does work—I’m living proof of that—but many factors are involved, and it takes time to establish a great environment in which both employer and employee thrive. And it can be different for each worker. Employees will try to push the boundaries and find their own way of performing optimally. It’s new for them too and employers need to be sensitive to that. One remote worker might perform best from midnight to six am, and that’s okay. The rules here are different. For example, if an employer sees a remote worker’s Facebook post about a morning at the beach, they shouldn’t panic and worry that they’re being taken advantage of until the worker’s performance suffers. That same worker might work the time in that night. There needs to be maturity, trust and commitment to allow the worker to find their best work/life balance. The employer needs to work with each employee to establish appropriate performance metrics and management.
Remote workers also need maturity and commitment. It’s not for everyone, but good remote workers understand that it’s a privilege to have the flexibility they do and will work hard to ensure that their employer knows that they value their trust. They need to communicate well and often and make an effort to attend office events or video conferences where possible. You can perform well and deliver without regularly updating your employer, but you don’t ever want your employer to wonder what it is you are doing—rather make a point of updating them regularly. You might both be trying to figure out this “remote working thing” so it’s in your best interest to work at the relationship just like you would any other one. To really be successful, you need to take responsibility for your success. And that success is not only delivering work, but making sure that your employer knows it.
Photo by Bruno Cervera