Having Second Thoughts About Remote Working?
Remote working has become a common practice for nearly any professional or technical job. For today’s mobile and mobile-connected workers, remote working is as much a requirement as it is a lifestyle choice. On any day, their office may be a hotel room, airline seat, coffee shop, conference center, or shared workspace. Workers with long commutes or caregiving responsibilities find they can be more productive working from home rather than using that time traveling or coping with distractions at the office.
For these and other reasons, most employers have gradually come to accept remote working as a fact of the modern workplace. A whole specialization has arisen in management consulting, coaching and training regarding how to manage, evaluate and communicate with remote workers. Recently, however, the pendulum has begun swinging back in the opposite direction. Some employers and employees have come to realize that, while it has its benefits, remote working also has its limitations.
In the past year or so, some companies, including Fortune 500 companies, have begun to recall employees back to the office and limit their remote time. Studies have found that remote workers often feel more disconnected from their co-workers and their companies than do workers who spend most of their time at the office. Because of that, keeping remote workers engaged and committed can be a challenge. Employees who spend a lot of time working remotely say they miss the socialization and camaraderie that comes with interacting with their teammates and other co-workers. That interaction is critical, as well, to develop the relationships and sense of trust that help to facilitate knowledge sharing, cooperation and co-creation—keys to driving innovation and productivity.
Given that much work gets done outside the office, it’s not practical to eliminate remote working altogether. If, however, you find that remote working is creating problems in your firm with employee interaction and team cohesion, you may want to have a talk with your employees and implement a more balanced policy that respects the needs of individual employees but safeguards the well-being of the firm.