I was surprised to read recently of Yahoo’s CEO decision to ban work-from-home policies across the company. The leaked internal memo said, “that speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work at home, with some of the best insights coming from impromptu meetings”.
I lead a product design and development team of 11 remotely, and offering flexible working has without a doubt provided benefits on both sides of the employment relationship. I’ve seen motivation increase and it’s even enabled a dedicated Mum to return to work sooner than would otherwise have been possible, and lead the team that developed our new hosted collaboration product (ReadyCloud Collaboration).
Working 9-5 is not as it used to be and it suits many, especially those with young families, to work around other commitments in order to be more productive employees. We are lucky that Gen-i has embraced flexible working practices and has worked hard over the last few years to update our collaboration and bring your own device (BYOD) technologies to create a modern workspace for our people, and provide an example of how this can all hang together for the clients we service.
All Gen-i employees have the tools they need to operate remotely, just as they would from the office. Services and applications like wireless connectivity, virtual private network (VPN), unified communications and headsets, and video conferencing has enabled total mobility and at the same time increased collaboration between our teams across New Zealand and Australia.
Our modern workspace is helping us to retain valuable skills and save on the need for expensive and time consuming recruitment and training. This is more important now than ever before as we, just like many of our clients, have to make some hard calls as we streamline our business.
And with the workforce becoming more tech savvy and demanding the latest in technology to do their jobs, we believe that it will help us to continue attracting some of the best young talent when recruiting. I can’t help but wonder if Yahoo will suffer when it comes to bringing the best on board?
There is of course the slacking off question, but surely there has to be a certain level of trust in your people. I have a team of motivated and professional adults who are all out to do a great job, which is a great start, and we have regular formal and informal catch-ups. Also, it’s not as if we disappear off the grid for days at a time, the truth is that with the Presence and Instant Messaging (IM) we communicate as often, if not more regularly, over the course of a day than we would if we were in the same office.
Remote working is certainly not for everyone, we are social mammals and I do agree that the impromptu meetings are valuable, so the key is getting the balance right for each team member. By being overt about each others drivers and expectations you create an environment of mutual trust, and if things aren’t working you have an adult conversation (face to face, phone, IM, video, whatever works for you) and make changes.
Turning one’s nose up at the technological tools now available and going back to how we worked a decade ago has got to be detrimental to a business’ bottom line. To me, it’s about regular communication between manager and team member, checking-in, and managing flexible working policies to suit both parties.
The world has changed and employees expect to be able to collaborate in new ways – isn’t it a happier, more engaged and content employee that produces better results?