A report has emerged detailing the best practices for remote workers and best ways to manage remote workers to ensure a high level of productivity for the organisation, and satisfaction for the management team and staff alike.
Being able to manage a remote team is undoubtedly a tough task. The constant employee engagement, daily check-ins and endless amount of video calls would make it hard for any manager to set expectations for their employees, especially without any face to face social interactions.
The report comes from News journalist, Jack Gramenz who interviewed futurist from Atlassian, Dom Price whose organisation recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of remote working practices on more than 6,000 respondents in Australia and around the globe, as well as the Chief Information Officer at Australia’s largest cybersecurity firm, Michael McKinnon.
The study found that the jury was split when it came to the virtues of remote workers, with equal amounts of responses saying they were satisfied while working remotely, and others saying that they “missed the energy of the office.” Some successful managers were able to simulate the energy of the office without face to face interaction through fun remote team building activities. However, it is still difficult to please all remote employees, especially those with a lot of distractions in their home work environment.
The report says that management teams across organisations big and small were struggling to implement a work from home policy that weighed organisational priorities with personal considerations. “I think we’re in a time of mass personalisation… I think we’re about to enter this time of a hybrid workforce, like a choose-your-own-adventure,” futurist Dom Price said. And, indeed, he’s right. If you take a look at the latest job ads on LinkedIn, most of them boast about their hybrid work opportunities for job seekers. Job seekers no longer want to comprise their healthy work-life balance.
Moreover, Airbnb has announced that their employees can work from anywhere in the world without any change to their compensation, even if they’re in different time zones. Companies like Airbnb have embraced their virtual team and have taken flexibility to a new level. Furthermore, Zoom, Teams and Google Meet have made managing remote teams easier with their great visual tools for team meetings. These are examples of organisations that are going the extra step to ensure their team members don’t feel isolated and can flexibly work from any remote environment in the world where they feel comfortable.
Furthermore, Mr Price said that the study noted employees were wasting a significant amount of the organisation’s time by reporting exactly what they’d done each day; to the extent that it outweighed their outputs for the day. “We’ve not yet learned what it means to be a distributed employee: how do you show presence and show impact without physically seeing your boss every day?” he said.
Atlassian’s study shows that employees largely “felt like they could have been working from home,” before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted organisations, however, “there was something in the way of that.”
“I don’t think it’s technology,” Mr Price said, “it could be trust from senior leaders that was getting in the way of giving people a chance.” He continued to explain that there was visceral “tension” between the managers and executives of a team looking for certainty while workers were looking to their employer for added flexibility.
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“That’s not how it works,” Mr Price stated, adding that “if you say you’re a ‘people organisation’ and you care about your people, just show that instead of managing them like an asset or resource, treat them as humans.” He urged employers not to take for granted the “chance to reinvent the office, which has probably been due for an overhaul for about 50 years.”
“I think there’s some collaboration that will still require people to come together daily, but there is a whole heap of other tasks that you can do from anywhere,” Price concluded.
The report also quotes Michael McKinnon who works as Chief Information Officer at Australia’s biggest cybersecurity firm, Pure Security. McKinnon told Gramenz that the widely-held belief that employees weren’t able to hold up their end of the bargain while working from home is something that “isn’t backed up by the numbers.”
McKinnon continued to echo the sentiment of Dom Price that management teams and executives were the weak links when it came to trust. “It’s largely driven by paranoia from managers and company directors,” he said, adding that “mistrust of employees is one of the most overrated threats and the rise in work-from-home during the pandemic has seen more companies begin to fear this…. The data shows the malicious incident rate is very low,” he said.
As Chief Information Officer of a publicly-listed cybersecurity company, Michael McKinnon said unsurprisingly that there is work to be done in terms of the cyber security awareness of employees to ensure they don’t provide authorised access to a company’s network unintentionally.
“Employees are very unlikely to intentionally engage in malicious activity. Instead, what happens is human error, it’s accidental mistakes that may compromise security. This is why organisations need to provide all their staff with security awareness training and teach staff how to detect fraudulent websites and scam emails and not open them.”