Flexible work is quickly shifting from a future of work trend to a reality for many businesses. The “work from anywhere” mindset is a sea change in how employees believe they can do their best work. With nearly 50 percent of the workforce already working remotely at some point during the work week, it’s time for enterprises to listen to employees, trust their technology, and embrace a new face of work.
Yet, implementing a flexible work program at a company that has worked on a traditional 9-5 schedule can quickly become an intimidating process and tiresome effort to dispel executive concerns. However, the list of remote work misconceptions is shrinking as more organizations realize the value, and impact, of remote employees. Here are four traditional myths companies should reconsider when thinking about the growing flexible workforce.
Collaboration and efficiency are going to suffer
The evolving landscape of the workforce is changing how employees interact within their companies regardless of location.
The internet, cloud, high-speed mobile networks and other technology advances have empowered remote employees with seamless access to mobile, chat, video and other collaboration tools to not only work together, but work better and smarter.
Technology now enables high fidelity interaction from wherever and whenever you chose to work. In fact, Fuze’s Workforce Futures research found that 83 percent of workers agree you don’t need to be in the office to be productive. The ability and flexibility to choose where and when you work encourages collaboration and maximizes efficiency and productivity both individually and as a team.
No one's going to come into the office anymore
When a flexible work option is introduced across a company, the “why would you ever go into the office?” question may arise.
In reality, face-to-face interactions in a workplace will never end, and according to Fuze’s research, 86 percent of workers think that in-person interaction will always be a valuable part of working life.
The benefit of flexible work, however, is the option to connect not only where you want, but how you want. Create an office environment that is hospitable to workers’ needs, and employees will come into the office with their coworkers because they want to, not because they have to.
Transparency will fall to the wayside
While working from home may mean taking calls in athleisure wear, it doesn’t mean slacking on accountability and multitasking on calls.
Being transparent in a culture of flexible work is a vital piece to maintain an employee’s trust and vice-versa. The expansion of digital communications only increases accountability and opportunity when it comes to providing information to a distributed company.
The idea of working remotely may trigger feelings of uncertainty of the day-to-day work happenings, but in fact even greater transparency can occur when communication is a priority and the right tools are provided for employees to post their whereabouts, meeting schedules, and even broad company updates.
A great rule of thumb is to encourage the use of video in every meeting possible, which quite literally creates transparency across a team. Over communicating may seem unnecessary to some, but in a flexible culture, it builds trust, accountability and ensures employees feel connected to their coworkers and leaders.
Team leadership will be compromised
A strong leader will guarantee his or her employees are given the right technology, a healthy environment, and a steady flow of information.
This is especially true for leaders and managers in the flexible and remote workforce because of the heightened responsibility they have to oversee the operation of a team they do not not see on a regular basis.
Leaders and managers must be proactive in planning ahead to incorporate tools and events to encourage employees to come together even if it requires some extra time, thought or resources. Regardless of location, a strong leader will set aside regular time on a weekly basis to connect with their reports, listen and identify ways to advance projects more efficiently.
While implementing a flexible workforce can seem like a challenging process, encouraging strong communication through technology, fostering in-person office interactions, and setting a focus on transparency will build a cohesive team of accountable, productive and happy employees.
This will ultimately debunk the vast majority of remote work myths, and will usher your company into the future of work.
Michael Affronti is VP of Product at Fuze