Advances in technology over the past 10 years -heck, the last 3 years – have transformed workflow and productivity forever. The ease and speed at which we can upload, analyze and share information from almost any business device not only means team members can be anywhere, they hardly need to exist as a physical being at all. With the incredible capabilities of cloud computing and high performance smart devices one has to wonder why more people aren’t working from home.
As far as I can tell, having a healthy bottom line is generally among the top three goals of companies big and small. So why are so many employers resisting the telework revolution? Sure, we all know that when Brian works from home he checks his email once an hour between day-time chat shows and trips to the kitchen. But research indicates that the vast majority of those who work remotely are productivity-machines and it’s lazy-pants Brian who’s the exception (rather than the rule).
In a report called WORKshift: The Bottom Line on Telework, private and public-sector research and data were compiled to develop a productivity and savings calculator to show that Canada’s economy, employers and workers stood to make significant gains by providing workers with more flexible in-office hours. A similar report completed by C-suite found that companies can enjoy a 10-55 percent productivity increase from employees who transition to working remotely. So why are companies holding back? If businesses are allowing employees to use their own devices to access the cloud in real time, why do they need to complete everyday work tasks at HQ? Ilyse Smith Senior VP and GM of H+K Toronto, believes this is just an unnecessary 20th century hangover. “If an employee is not in plain sight, it doesn’t mean productivity can’t be measured”.
A review by the American Psychological Association of 20 years of research on the outcomes of telecommuting found that remote employees have higher rates of job satisfaction, experience less stress, have improved work-life balance and are more reluctant to leave a company than their cube-bound counterparts. Virtual office goers tend also to receive higher performance ratings from their superiors. Employers who are concerned about managing productivity remotely have a number of options for keeping their teams on track. Managers can acknowledge that employees who do not commute have more to give. A study of IMB’s global workforce asked employees at what point work interfered with their home life. Non-teleworkers maxed out at 38 hours while teleworkers could go to 57 before pushing away from their desks.
Most cloud computing systems allow managers to run ongoing performance management tools trackers fit for the 21st century. Rather than focusing on time and being physically present as measures of performance, employers can create applications within their cloud system to measure productivity, activity, results and collaboration. Providing your team with company guidelines, ongoing tracking tools, clear expectations concerning frequency of contact, and an understanding of the performance management systems, employers can let go of the need to a see a human in a cubicle as proof of productivity. Advances in cloud computing and collaboration software mean technical implementation of a telework environment is easier than ever. Remote teams can connect online to hold interactive web-meetings and access secure centrally hosted data.
Now, let’s review; making company info and data available on the cloud means team members can work and collaborate from anywhere giving employees increased flexibility around work hours and increasing their productivity and increases rates of overall job satisfaction. That couldn’t possibly be good for business, could it?