One comment that is often leveled against remote workers is that they struggle to stay on task. The idea is that the “working” part in “working from home” can often get forgotten. When faced with the temptations of Netflix, gym sessions or the joys of household chores, telecommuters always give in.
As we’ve said before, this idea overlooks one thing – office workers get distracted too. Long lunch breaks, time spent surfing the net to research purchases, or just chatting to colleagues, it all eats away at the working day, but that’s usually considered the ‘cost of doing business’ rather than problem behavior.
The reality: this is about control, or rather a perceived lack of it. Managers can become insecure when they can’t see their staffer sat at the desk with their nose to the grindstone (or sneakily playing minefield). That lack of trust can manifest as objections to working from home.
Current thinking is that procrastination can have some real benefits. So, if your remote worker takes some time out to water the plants rather than cracking on, they might be doing you a favor. Here are some of the reasons that procrastination can be a real benefit. And once you’re convinced that remote workers are as productive – or even more so – than regular employees, contact us for help building your team.
The Adrenalin Surge
We’ve all had that looming sensation of a deadline approaching. When you know something has to be done for a specific date and time, and that moment is getting closer. You start to wonder if what’s being asked of you is even possible. Then, from somewhere, you get a boost of energy, and you’re able to work at double speed. New ideas come to mind, and you finish with seconds to spare and a feeling of immense satisfaction.
Putting yourself into a stressful situation produces adrenalin. That triggers the fight or flight response, and if you don’t run away screaming from your workload, it equips you to deal with it. With an increased blood supply and a boost of glucose for energy, the impossible becomes possible. While for some workers this isn’t the way to live, others positively thrive by leaving things to the last minute.
When you’re weeks out from a deadline, there are plenty of things competing for your time. Once you’re a little bit closer, the need to focus becomes more apparent. By the time your team member has procrastinated to the very last minute, there is nothing else for them to do but get down to the task at hand with a laser focus.
And being focused brings with it a host of other benefits, including improved problem solving and greater clarity. Nothing sharpens the mind like a challenge, and when the clock is ticking that added focus can help generate some great ideas and workarounds.
It is incredible what some people will do to put off something else. While keeping soooo busy they can’t make progress on one job, your staff will catch up with all those other jobs you can’t usually persuade them to do. Timesheets, expense claims, filing – all the admin tasks that generally fall by the wayside.
There is an argument that if you’re not in the mood to work on something, you’re better of spending your time elsewhere. I know that, as a writer, there are times when I’m just not in the right frame of mind to create. When that hits, I respect the desire. I do other things instead and wait for the time to be right to work on some killer content.
A Realism Injection
Often, we can make projects needlessly complicated. We create work for ourselves or others, by setting unrealistic expectations. We want things to be perfect.
But once you get to crunch time, you soon get a good idea of what is essential in a project, and what is ‘nice to have.’ This more realistic way of looking at things ensures that the core of the project gets completed but without any additional bells and whistles. The heat of the moment can also be a time for seeing how to do things differently.
Better Thought Out
Procrastination also gives you the benefit of more time spent thinking about a project, than actually working on it. This generates extra time to identify any problems, meaning that when the time comes to get started that the solutions have already been considered.
The additional think-time can be a real bonus in creative roles, but the same also holds for any area where problems are solved. Would you prefer your developers to create a quick but mundane solution, or to come up with an alternative that really answers the question and transforms the way you all work? Procrastination is more likely to bring you the latter.
When is it a Problem?
Of course, this isn’t to say that procrastination isn’t a problem. It’s just that some workers get a benefit from leaving things until the last minute; others don’t. While some produce great work under pressure, others achieve quality through consistency. Rather than one method of working fitting all, it’s better to support the style that works best for each team member.
Measure by Results
What should count is the results. Whether your remote worker thrives on tight deadlines or prefers the slow and steady approach, as long as the work product is sufficient, and of a good standard, it doesn’t matter when or how it happened. As long as you’ve been clear when you set your expectations, all should be well.
By allowing your staff to choose their work hours, and trusting them to deliver what is needed, on time, you free yourself up from the stress of micro-managing. Believe that you made the right hiring choice, and let your staff decide whether they get the job done now, or after they’ve hung up the laundry.
And if you don’t trust your staff? Well, maybe you’ve made some poor hiring decisions. If you’d like to recruit a remote team that you can be proud of, then give us a call. We spend our days matching the best global development talent with organizations around the world, and we know exactly what makes a great remote developer. Hint: It doesn’t matter if they procrastinate.