Remote work has become such a fixture in conversations about workplace culture, that we’ve gotten to the point where feuding sides make it hard to understand who is right and who is wrong.
You’ve got one camp that extols the virtues of a fully distributed workforce. And you’ve got another camp (in which there are some major corporations) that believe people should be in one place.
So who is right? The answer: no one. Why?
Because flexible working options shouldn’t be a one-size fits all solution. Neither should there be a forced requirement to have everyone in the same location. Some companies have thrived with remote or location dependent workers because other elements of the culture (process, leadership, rules, and actions) encourage a productive work environment. Some companies have failed because, once again, elements of the culture have hindered how people work. The problem won’t be solved with an “either or” mentality, it has to be one and the other coexisting together.
Where people work should be a an option available to all individuals whether they take advantage of the choice or not. We shouldn’t expect everyone to work remotely. But we should expect companies to offer flexible working options that help individuals to be happy and productive workers.
Of course, there are challenges that arise when individuals can choose where and how they work. If you want to do some cautious testing and learning around remote work, consider these points as you embark on your journey:
Hire People That Exhibit Remote Work Traits
If an organization wants to reach into a talent pool beyond local borders, then hire people who will be positive for your culture even though they aren’t physically present. Make that clear in the hiring process from the very beginning. Remote work requires a lot of autonomous behavior–organization, process, and communication skills that go above and beyond what people exhibit in an office environment. Dig deep into these behaviors when conducting interviews, and pay attention to how individuals discuss each area. A hiring exercise or project is a great way to see how a candidate will deliver on work, and collaborate with the team members (be sure to make this a paid challenge if you want to attract serious candidates).
Define Undesired Actions
Companies can have all of their employees in one room and still fail. By discussing and communicating desired internal actions, individuals, teams and leadership will have a clear understanding of what is allowed and what will be undesired. Companies need to consider drafting policies and documents that clearly communicate how the organization supports flexible working styles. What are the timezone constraints? When should everyone be available? What budget is there for coworking or technology needs? How should feedback be given and received? You won’t have all the answers or protocols in place immediately, but it’s important that a rough framework is in place that can be adjusted and improved over time. Remote work habits shouldn’t impact home office processes, and vice versa. Be clear about how both styles should function, and that sacrifices will have to be made for both choices.
AppsFlyer, a mobile attribution and marketing analytics company, launched a Global Employee Exchange Program in February of 2016. The program allows people in the company who have a minimum of one year under their belt to work from any of the organization’s global offices in cities across Asia, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. The catch? The program allows employees to work abroad for periods of two to twelve weeks. By setting these parameters in place, companies like AppsFlyer can monitor, learn, and scale remote work programs carefully and thoughtfully to achieve the desired impact and value for the company.
When you offer flexible work options within the organization, ensure that all individuals have access to those choices: whether your people are parents with families; young millennials, men or women. For example, if parents are afforded a couple of “work from home” days to be near their kids, make sure the work from home options is made available to factions of the organization who don’t have kids or are single. Avoid preferencing one lifestyle choice over another, or your people will begin to view the offering as favoritism.
Great people are everywhere. For talent to thrive in a company, the rest of the culture has to support individuals to function at their best; to function within a team; and for that team to function as a business. That goes for people who work virtually, and people who commute into the head office.
This article was written by Kavi Guppta from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.