As an executive coach, I speak with employees, managers and leaders of different companies in a myriad of industries. One thing that is true for each of them is that some or all of their employees have been working remotely in some capacity since the outbreak of Covid-19 a year and a half ago.
To continue to have a successful remote-work environment for both companies and employees, there’s a simple formula: Remote work = Trust + Acceptance + Boundaries.
Trust is a crucial element to manage this work change. In the Holloway Guide to Remote Work, the author notes, “Trust isn’t just about good feelings or liking the people we work with. Building a culture of trust makes a meaningful difference in both employee engagement and company outcomes by enabling higher productivity, better-quality products, and increased profitability.” Employees must prove to be trustworthy, and employers must be trusting.
Next, companies must accept that the way we work has truly changed; that it is impossible for in-person work to look like remote work, and there needs to be concessions made for that. To make this change, like any other, acceptance is key.
Humans are wired for human connection. The very disconnect of remote working poses a physiological problem all its own. Many companies try to compensate for this by scheduling meeting after meeting after meeting – inadvertently monopolizing their employee’s productivity time.
Better boundaries allow employees to be able to concentrate on work and not worry about work.
Tips for Remote Workforce
The more successful companies with remote workforces are implementing things like:
- Preemptive trust
Companies must trust that employees will still execute their jobs with excellence, even though they are not physically face to face with managers and colleagues. When companies operate from a posture of trust and create an environment that says they believe in their people to do the right and most productive things from the start, their people will usually live up to that belief.
- Focus on productivity
A recent Bloomberg article noted that a new study found that, in fact, remote work does indeed make us more productive. “The work-from-home boom will lift productivity in the U.S. economy by 5%, mostly because of savings in commuting time,” the study says. Instead of the number of hours worked, focus on actual productivity and outcomes. If employees are always in meetings, there is no time during the workday for deep thinking and critical work production.
- No meeting days
No matter what day of the week, identify a day where absolutely no meetings are scheduled throughout the entire organization. Also, “No Camera Days,” where if there is a meeting scheduled, employees are not expected to turn their camera on to attend. This helps employees and managers with meeting fatigue. Taking things like this into consideration improves the overall experience for employees because they don’t feel pressured to work extra hours to get their work done – you know, the work that is required of them as part of their daily job description, that they were not able to do because they had six meetings scheduled in one day.
- Work/life acceptance
Help your employees to better manage their tasks for the day, instead of their time in the day. If you speak with anyone that I have ever had the privilege of coaching, they will tell you that “Coach Robbie says there is no such thing as work/life balance.” The definition of balance is two things in equal or correct proportion. So, when you say “work/life balance” out loud, you have just told your brain that every single day, you are striving to put forth equal effort at work and equal effort in your life outside of work. These two things NEVER require equal effort on any given day. Encourage employees to strive for work life acceptance with better boundaries.
Some companies are enlisting the help of professional and executive coaches to help their entire team make a smoother transition into this remote world. As an executive coach, I have the pleasure of helping people find some sense of separation between work and home now that their living room is their office.
I help them to denounce the notions of guilt that comes with hearing their baby cry in the other room, while they need to be up front with their laptop. I also help them to discover how to be fully present wherever they are – work or life.
When it comes to remote work, the most successful companies in this transition are the ones who echo these sentiments:
- It’s not about testing employees to see if they can but TRUSTING that they will.
- It’s not about agonizing over the shift but ACCEPTING that it’s true.
- It’s not about balancing work and life but more about the BOUNDARIES between the two.
Robbie Green is an executive coach at Talking Talent. She works with working parents to help them achieve a better quality of life as they fulfill the demanding roles of parent and employee. Her opinions are her own.