I recently posted a blog entitled Expect 143% From Remote Workers. The premise is that people working interactively contribute a lot more than just deliverables; they provide social motivation, knowledge transfer, and shared experience that builds trust. So, if someone is working remotely they ought to compensate for NOT contributing these qualities by producing more deliverables. How much more? 143% more to be exact. See for yourself here.
Furthermore, as appealing as remote work may be for some, it is rarely the cornerstone of a successful career. On the contrary, remote work can quickly undermine development of rich relationships, meaningful impact, and personal growth that define professional success today. (ref. Aaron Hurst, The Purpose Economy.)
But Workplace1080 is not about dictating individual preferences and priorities. It’s about managing organizational implications of workplace change. The impact on organizations of non-strategic remote work is the issue today.
One of my valued readers pointed out that no amount of additional output from remote employees can replace the loss of interaction in the office. It's hard to grow in a vacuum. Friction and connection are catalysts for innovation.
Instead of looking at all those quick gotta-minute-questions and whad’ya-thinks and meandering-coffee-chats and overheard-one-sided-phone-calls as distractions from our “real work,” we might recognize them as building blocks in the foundation of corporate capability.
The sample table below shows generic advantages and disadvantages of remote work for both individuals and organizations. To capture the benefits and avoid pitfalls in all quadrants, get strategic about remote work policy. Put social motivation, knowledge transfer, and trust on the same page with freedom, privacy, and access to talent.
Get started with a strategic assessment. Complete a table like the one above for your specific group or situation. Ask questions:
What jobs are best suited for remote work?
Is remote work a privilege or a requirement?
If it's a privilege, what criteria apply?
Can a flexible schedule include regular face-time to build relationships and trust?
What is the minimum expectation for on-site presence, if any?
Pay attention to physical and virtual workplace design too. There’s no point in bringing your whole workforce into the office if they don’t interact while they’re there. Poorly integrated technology tools and procedures in the virtual workplace will exacerbate isolation and reduce teamwork regardless of geographic location.
Interaction is not merely a distraction from so-called real work. It IS the real work.
(Wherever you are in your workplace evolution, Workplace1080 can help frame the issues, explore options and model likely outcomes. Like any interaction, another perspective may be just the spark you need to stimulate and clarify your thinking.)