Employees who work from home or outside of the office are no longer confined to working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Thanks to modern technology such as chat tools and screen sharing software, employees can communicate with their co-workers and clients anywhere at any time. However, many people feel that because they’re able to work in the comfort of their own homes, their job responsibilities somehow shouldn’t be limited by certain hours.
The traditional 9–5 model was defined in an era when most employees had little flexibility in where and when they worked. However, with the emergence of new technologies and alternative methods for organization design has come to an increase in remote workstyles which demand a flexible schedule.
Although working outside of the office seems attractive, many employees who do work remotely fail to meet expectations. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is possible for telecommuters to become less productive without clear guidelines around working hours.
Why are there mixed results with employee productivity in telecommuting environments? How can organizations ensure that remote workers are being as productive as those inside the office? Why does it even matter if you’re not face-to-face with your co-workers?
Different people are more productive in different environments. When it comes to working remotely, some employees are motivated by being at home while others are stressed out by having too much freedom. Although telecommuting may seem like the perfect option for everyone, many organizations struggle to maintain high levels of productivity with remote workers because they do not have a clear policy governing hours worked outside of the office.
Clear guidelines on when employees should work help ensure that expectations are met and that managers can hold their team accountable.
Employees who work from home or outside of the office need structure to be as productive as those inside the office. These structures need not eliminate all flexibility — rather serve as boundaries around time spent working.
Having a clear policy on hours worked outside of the office is not only important for meeting expectations but also for building trust within teams and organizations as a whole. Trust goes beyond just meeting expectations — it’s about having faith that your team members will complete their work even if they aren’t in the office at all times. It’s about knowing who is working and when, and being able to communicate with one another easily without disrupting personal or family time. Trust leads to better communication, collaboration, and teamwork which ultimately leads to higher productivity because employees feel free to ask questions and get help from their co-workers.
Employees who work remotely need more than just access to technologies such as chat tools and screen sharing software. They need a clear set of guidelines around hours worked to be as productive as those inside the office. In an era where productivity is no longer defined solely by time spent in the workplace, organizations should focus less on where employees work and more on how they communicate, collaborate, and build trust within their teams.
WFH requires a lot of self-discipline, proactiveness, and time management skills.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “my laptop is on and I’m listening to a meeting, and this means I’m working”.
Working remotely requires a certain amount of discipline and a good grasp of time management. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being available any time you have your laptop on or being distracted.
When it comes down to it, the responsibility of being productive is still on you.
This means that nobody will tell you what to do all day every day, especially if it’s work-related. You have to know your limits and be aware of how much work time you’re devoting each day so that you don’t fall behind.
You have no one telling you what to do all day long, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how well you keep yourself organized and know where/when/how much time should be devoted to working. It takes self-discipline, proactivity, and good time management skills.
People may not understand why they are being held accountable to the same expectations as those in the office.
It’s easier for people who are remote or work from home to feel that they don’t have to go by the same rules as everyone else. After all, there isn’t anyone looking over their shoulder so it doesn’t really count…right? Wrong! Working remotely is not a reason or an excuse to be unproductive. You can still maintain deadlines and meet expectations even if you’re not physically sitting in front of your computer every single day/time.
People need structure and clear guidelines on hours worked outside of the office just like those who work inside of it.
It’s important to have a set schedule that tells employees what time they should start working and finish, as well as how many hours they can work each day. People who work at home/remotely need to know their boundaries just like those in the office do if they want to be productive and efficient.
One of the best things I’ve done over my time working remotely is to create a schedule for myself that includes all deadlines and times I need to log on and off of chat tools, Skype, etc. This way, even if someone isn’t around or available when needed they can still tell what times I’m free so we can set up a proper meeting time.