“Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: 1- It’s completely impossible. 2- It’s possible, but it’s not worth doing. 3- I said it was a good idea all along.” Arthur C. Clarke
If you’ve pioneered tapping into the remote economy in your organization, you’ll be familiar with these stages. (And if you haven’t, contact us and we’ll sort you out!)
Good ideas are infectious. Once you’ve proved that hiring a remote developer is the right choice, then all the naysayers will rapidly move on to stage 3.
That’s where you find yourself as the subject matter expert when it comes to remote working. Other managers will see how productive your team is. The powers that be will want to seize on the cost-cutting benefits of remote working. Guess who they’re going to want to talk to?
So what do you do, when your company is facing its next steps? Fear not, just as we’ve had your back with great recruitment and team-building advice along the way, we can help you now. Here are our tips for taking the next steps in your remote work journey.
Being Your Company’s Remote Economy Expert
When remote working succeeds in a company, you can expect to get pressure from two angles as their resident expert. The first is, as we said above, from your colleagues and management who want to be able to get the benefits you’ve already achieved.
But you’ll also find that pressure comes from the workforce, too. As Global Workplace Analytics have found, more than 80% of US employees would like the flexibility to work from home, at least on a part-time basis.
And while your ego may be getting a nice boost from all the attention your success is getting, it’s worth taking a reality check. What worked for you and your team may not work for everyone else. Make that apparent to those asking for advice, so you don’t end up taking the fall for a poorly implemented remote team elsewhere.
Not All Jobs Can Be Remote
80% of Americans may want to work from home, but just 50% of the workforce holds a job that is compatible with working from home. While many jobs that are traditionally done in an office can be quickly done from home, there are some that need to stay on-site.
There’s no doubt that roles like software developer are far better done from home, but there is an argument that a well-designed office space can boost creativity. Google is often held up as an example of this.
Then there is the staff who have to be in the office for a physical reason. Whether they’re managing equipment or packing in the warehouse, there are jobs that you can’t do from the comfort of your sofa.
How can you tell if a role can be done from home? Try working remotely in the office. That is, asking the person who does the job only to use tools they’d have available at home. Rather than getting up and walking over to Bob’s desk to ask a question, can they use Skype instead? Can that report for accounting be emailed across rather than printed and hand-delivered?
This can also be an excellent tactic to use with the reluctant manager. If you have someone who is struggling with the idea of giving up the control that being in the same building gives, ask them to try that exercise. Most people find that using messenger rather than visiting a desk gets requests handled in far less time. You get a working from home productivity boost while you’re in the office!
Not All Staff Can Work Remotely
Working remotely takes discipline and is suited to self-starters and self-reliant staff members. They also need to be good communicators, able to express themselves openly and efficiently through text-based mediums. And to take a breath before they take offense at what someone else has written
And while introverts might enjoy the peace and quiet of working from home, extroverts will struggle with the lack of human contact. It’s possible for them to work in Cafes or libraries to get their people fix. You will want to consider the security implications of using public networks for your business.
A good half-way solution is to let staff work from home on a part-time basis. The advocacy group, 1 Million for work flexibility, have put together a business case to support flexible working. Basically, it’s many of the advantages of full remote staff; the only difference is that you still need to pay for office space. Hot-desking may be a way to allow staff with part-time remote positions to have somewhere to sit without having empty desks for half the week.
For some companies, fully remote working is possible. We know this because DistantJob works this way themselves! Yes, we walk the walk as well as talking the talk. We think that more companies will embrace this path over time.
For fully remote companies, as well as being able to hire from the global talent pool, being able to save money on office space is of significant importance. It could mean paying rent on a much smaller office or only paying to hire meeting rooms in shared office space when events are needed.
The Remote Economy is the Future
We may still be experiencing a lot of stage 1 and 2 of Mr. Clarke’s predictions, but there’s no doubt that more companies are seeing the light and moving on to stage 3. Even the high profile ‘failures’ of remote working such as Yahoo! weren’t any such thing. Yahoo! still allows some staff to work from home, they’ve just taken a more considered approach to it.
This gives you, as a remote team manager, valuable experience. You have added a skill to your CV that is going to be in high demand. And you’ve helped your company be more productive for less cost, and improved the lives of their staff. That’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?
And as ever, if you think we can help you with any stage of your remote work journey, then get in touch.