Millions of employees across the country have been working remotely for many months now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This has represented a massive change for businesses and their staff members, and understandably, it has come with numerous logistical and management challenges: how best to monitor employee productivity, how to ensure adequate remote infrastructure so work can be completed efficiently, and how to ensure staff are there when they’re needed.
But just as any major change brings significant challenges, it also presents potential opportunities. One of the most significant opportunities remote work has presented for employers and managers is the ability to experiment with greater employee flexibility.
Do Employees Need to Be Logged in 9 to 5?
One common fear among employers and managers with respect to remote work is that their staff members won’t be logged in all day during normal business hours.
The question to consider is: “Do they need to be?” We’re talking primarily about salaried workers here. For some organizations and positions, the answer may be a definite yes. For others, it may be less critical.
Do Employees Need to Be Available Every Business Day?
Similarly, it might not be essential for staff to be available Monday through Friday. Maybe they can get all their work done Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. As long as they are able to get their work done and work effectively in a team, when that work is performed shouldn’t necessarily matter.
Can Managers Shift Focus to Outcomes Over Process?
Too often, managers are over-focused on process and under-focused on outcomes. This greatly restricts employees’ flexibility. Managers shouldn’t necessarily care when or how employees get their work done as long as it does get done and they are available to others when needed.
Companies need to ask themselves, “Did I hire this team member to perform a job function? Or did I hire them to be generally available during these hours and hope they can perform that function during that time?”
Change can be scary for businesses, especially change brought on by a global pandemic and its associated economic upheaval. But when companies get a handle on the challenges brought on by those changes, they can start to look at the opportunities presented, as well.
In the case of COVID-19, the fundamental shift in the nature of “the office” presents opportunities to evaluate room for greater employee flexibility in the long term.