We saw it unfold all over Australia - if not, the world - almost overnight.
Entire cities shut down, public transport emptied, and we retreated into the safety of our makeshift home offices.
Business and industry leaders were faced with the option of either adapting, or shutting up shop entirely.
Working from home transformed the economic landscape almost overnight and it’s a topic that almost everybody is talking about - but is the remote culture here to stay?
WFH arrangements often walk hand in hand with the human resource management strategy known as ROWE - “Results Only Work Environment”.
Created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, the concept is to encourage employee autonomy based on results (work output) as opposed to time logged.
While taking the pressure off the employee’s minute by minute daily routine, employers and supervisors are encouraged to manage the workload - not the staff.
It’s worth noting that this method of management doesn’t quite fit for all businesses. An example of this is a position that requires a post to be “manned” for an allocated duration, such as a receptionist, call centre or even retail outlet.
However, in task based businesses such most marketing, information technologies, and even general administration - if paired with the right leader - the end game is higher productivity, accountability and ultimately a happier team (like here at Content Hive).
Considering that it took a global pandemic for Seek.com.au to add a “Work From Home” option into their basic core structure, we may be getting a little ahead of ourselves though. The stigma of remote employees slacking off in their pajamas or chatting in cafes still lingers, despite most proving themselves to be both capable and reliable both in and out of the office environment.
However, global tech gods including Facebook, Shopify, Amazon and Google have all expanded their work from home arrangements into the foreseeable future, with some committed to this change in culture permanantly.
If they can do it, why can’t we?
Even back in 2010, Barack Obama was touting the benefits of flexible working options at The White House in the midst of a snow storm. Apart from the obvious, the benefits from a business perspective are undeniable.
Lower running costs, less time spent commuting, increased productivity and even access to a wider employee pool than what was once traditionally available. Less time sweating the small stuff, and more investment into the bigger picture - and ultimately getting the job done.
If you’re a leader in business and you’ve been considering making the commitment to a more flexible working environment for all, there are some key factors in making the transition seamless for all.
Set the tone from Day 1 regarding what is expected between the employee and the employer.
Will they have set tasks or targets to achieve weekly?
Can their position be broken down into key actionable items, or are they expected to “clock in” for set shifts?
Just because your team member is working from home now, it does not translate into availability 24/7.
In the digital age where most of us consider our mobile phone to be an extra limb, it’s paramount that staff get a chance to “unplug” with scheduled time away from the ever present screens.
It’s incredibly easy to misinterpret one sentence in an email, let alone an entire brief. As an employer or business leader, it’s your responsibility to monitor your communication tools and the tone you select while using them.
There are quite literally hundreds of tools available for running remote teams, create tasks, track time frames and monitor progress.
Popular options include Trello, Slack and Zoom - select your artillery carefully, and champion their use right through to the finish line.
In 2017, MIT’s Dr Peter Hirst conducted a “Quality of Life” survey regarding the university’s flexible working program. The results speak for themselves.
90% reported that their family and personal lives had improved; 85% said that their stress levels were reduce; 80% said that their work morale and engagement improve; 62% felt more trusted and respected in their workplace; and 93% even believed that collaboration at work was better than it was before.
So, will the exception become the norm?
Time will tell.
If those at the very top are champions of change, when we eventually look back they will inevitably be viewed as innovators instead of stagnant.
Proactive, instead of reactive.
At Content Hive, our team is 100% remote. We have the option to work whatever time of the day that suits us best - so long as the work gets done.
Our thinking is this: let’s not punish those that work more efficiently, and instead reward them with more time and flexibility to pursue the things that they love doing outside of work.
This results in a spike in motivation and inspiration for the next time that they do clock in - and acts as a win win for both the employer and the employee.