The business world is changing. The image of productivity is no longer a bustling office building full of cubicles and employees answering phone calls and typing away on their computers. Remote.Co shared statistics stating that, as of 2018, “eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to ‘hit maximum productivity.’ What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.”
There are an increasing amount of statistics and numbers that lead us to believe that working remotely may be the next big thing in the business world. The Chief Evangelist and Anti-PR Strategist, Karla Jo Helms, for JoTo PR can attest to this.
“Karla Jo learned firsthand how unforgiving business can be when millions of dollars are on the line—and how the control of public opinion often determines whether one company is happily chosen or another is brutally rejected.” – JoTo PR
Karla Jo’s agency aids in crisis management and entrepreneurial insight, while increasing the quality of public relations experiences for companies. She shared some insight with us regarding employees working remotely.
Employee Benefits of Remote Work
In 2015, after 5 years with our agency in a physical location, I made the decision to take the agency remote.
At that time several of my large clients were either remote or large parts of their organization were. I saw real value in the potential to demonstrate that what matters to me most about my people is their quality of life. One of my long-timers was commuting 1.5 hours each way per day — 3 hours in her day that could have been way more productive if fighting traffic was removed from the equation.
What do you think it is about working remotely that employees prefer?
Surprisingly, the consensus is a better quality of life — less stress translating into increased productivity and time saved by not battling traffic and weather. Which then translates into more relaxed time management for planning the day’s client-centered or team-centered tasks.
Being able to work heads down without interruptions — employees say they are more productive. While maintaining structure with technology; you have FaceTime, virtual meetings and the ability to instantly connect. Pet lovers (which I am) get to be around their furry friends more, which they also enjoy while working.
Remote Work = Team Work
How has remote work affected your relationship with your employees?
My staff relates that they feel independent, but at the same time they crave team bonding and look forward to our regularly-scheduled meetings over Skype throughout the regular week. I find that I must work at generating opportunities for team building and sharing of personalities in our meetings. With those remote employees in the same or nearby geographical locations, we have in-person team building meetings and fun events periodically.
A remote work environment would require a lot of respect and trust between employee and employer. Therefore, do you think that because of this, only certain types of employers can run a business allowing remote work, successfully?
Transparency is the key to respect and trust. One can’t take a position from a traditional office environment and send the person home with no adaptations. You must trust that they’ll acclimate to the new home office, but at the same time you must have a daily routine for accountability in the work. Employers that flip the switch to remote and ignore their staff will lose touch with the flow of the business.
We monitor this by measuring their production via statistics, and have ways to track their on- and off-line time. This allows them to be independent, but also focused on production—they know their “output” is being measured. If work occurs from 6am–2pm, and there is no need to be around until 5pm, fine.
Remote Work and Technology
Does remote work require a higher dependence on technology? How does this affect communication?
Absolutely. Our infrastructure is in ‘the cloud’ and I found that establishing a core communication structure consistent with all staff became our ‘walls’. The system is paperless and does require each person to be knowledgeable about the technology we utilize. We don’t take our hardware, software or phone tech for granted.
What are 3 simple management factors used for productive remote work?
1. Use technology to help the business produce more, and more efficiently—always stay on top of new technologies.
2. Adopt standards for transparent daily and weekly measuring and reporting.
3. Lastly, communicate with staff and let them know they are valued through internal processes.
Have you noticed a change in the productivity and efficiency level of your employees after having switched to remote work?
After a short dip when we initially went remote, we figured things out and adjusted to the new freedom. Our productivity more than doubled based on our constantly tracked metrics. After the initial adjustment hump was over, productivity began to rise stably, and continues to today. Ongoing training is our key to efficiency.
The increased amount of productivity benefits both employers and employees. Working remotely and telecommuting is said to result in a 69% decrease in the rate of absences amongst employees (Remote.Co).