The nature of work has changed dramatically and many employees are feeling the brunt of it. The lucky ones will be able to work remotely, but some businesses are still encouraging these employees to come into work, despite the risk of exposure to not just an individual employee but the entire workplace. Why? it might have something to do with one of these five work from home myths:
1. ‘Employees aren’t as productive when they work from home.’
Says who? This is the biggest work from home myths and a huge part of why it’s still looked on unfavourably. Remote working reduces overhead costs, 83% of employees would be happier working remotely and 77% of employees already working from home believe they’re more productive than when they’re in the office. It’s an obvious win for employers, yet for reasons unknown, many still believe that remote working would reduce productivity, despite countless studies confirming the opposite. Until now, there’s been no reason for employers to dispel these outdated beliefs, but COVID-19 is forcing their hand. Though there will be a teething period, when you come out on the other side, this myth will be well and truly debunked.
2. ‘Teams can’t see what everyone else is working on.’
Not all employees are lucky enough to be able to work remotely and even those who are won’t automatically have visibility over what other team members or teams are working on. The same can be said for managers of remote workers, who might not know what an employee is working on. This boils down to two things: communication and trust. These two are a crucial part of the remote working puzzle and are necessary for debunking those common work from home myths.
That’s where software comes in
Managers have always been required to keep tabs on what their direct reports are working on. Working remotely doesn’t change that, but it does change the way that managers need to check-in. New processes, like daily check-ins or virtual meetings will replace in-person catch-ups, whilst tech tools like G-Suite and Asana allow managers and employees to view and share assets remotely and update timelines as tasks are completed. Employment Hero’s Goals function uses OKRs so that employees and managers can easily see the status of different projects, as well as how they impact the company overall. With a laptop and high-speed internet, managers can have even greater visibility over their employees than they did before. And though the software exists to keep tabs on employees every minute of every working day, no one likes a micro-manager. You have to trust your employees. If you still think an employee is measured by the time they spend in the office, you’ve got it all wrong. Employees need to be evaluated based on their outcomes, not their hours. If the work is being done and it’s being done well, does it matter in what time period it was done? Slackers are going to slack, whether they’re in the office or at home. If you value your employees and the work they do, trust them to do it without your supervision. Working remotely isn’t an excuse to fall behind on projects or tasks and if an employee treats it as such, the chickens will always come home to roost.
3. ‘They don’t have access to all their files.’
Again, not every role is adaptable for remote working, but you’d be surprised how many are. GPs run consultations by video chat, call centre employees can take calls from their mobile and yoga instructors can run classes from anywhere. As technology develops, more roles can be done remotely working and cloud-based storage is the cornerstone of this. Files and records have been moving to cloud-based systems for over a decade now. They’re more secure, cheaper to store, better protected from natural events like fire or flooding and can be retrieved (by authorised personnel) from anywhere and at any time. As our internet speeds increase and our devices advance, it’s easier than ever to access files remotely. If you work in HR or own your own business, HR and payroll data can all be hosted securely via the cloud using Employment Hero. If you want to find out more information about how Employment Hero can help, get in touch with one of our small business specialists to learn more.
4. ‘Teams and employees won’t be able to communicate as well as in the office’
Ahh, another one of our work from home myths. Like cloud-based storage, advancements in technology have also made it easier for us to communicate with one another remotely. Not only are devices cheaper to make and buy, but the infrastructure to connect is improving everyday and as such, the ways we communicate are evolving. 10 years ago, it was email and telephone; maybe a fax machine too. Today, we have all those (yes, fax machines still exist!) and so much more. Tools like Slack, Workplace, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, iMessage and even (regrettably) Facebook are connecting people and ideas every microsecond of the day. Regardless of location, there’s no reason why teams can’t communicate easily throughout the working day. As always, there are new processes to put in place and managers will need to force the habit before it becomes innate, but it will be worth it. If you’re worried your teams aren’t communicating, leadership needs to jump in virtual team meetings, company-wide activities and ensure teams can easily see what other teams are working on. Regardless of whether you’re working at home or at the office, all employees should know your mission statement, the core objectives you want to achieve as a business and the values that will guide you as you set about achieving this. Employment Hero’s Goals module enables employees to create objectives on an individual, team or company-wide level that are linked and nested within each other. Employees can review these at any point and not only see the direction the company is moving, but also the contributions they are making as an individual.
5. ‘Employees will miss the office culture too much.’
This one is tricky, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. Many employees are now working remotely not out of choice, but because they have no other option. Remember, they’re the lucky ones—some can’t work at all. In addition to the uncertainty of COVID-19, employees are in new routines with new distractions and challenges. They may be struggling with:
- new technology
- social isolation
- inadequate infrastructure (like internet connection or devices)
- a workspace that isn’t conducive to WFH
But the above is unique and if you invest in the tools and processes to facilitate remote working, it will also be temporary. With data accessibility and communication, employers can also take steps to ensure that their employees are engaged and happy when working remotely. Schedule regular virtual get-togethers, encourage employees to share their WFH set-up or introduce the other people in their “office”. Ensure managers check-in with their direct reports at least once a day and to discuss more than the job at hand. Are they comfortable? Is there set-up adequate or do they need more resources? Are they well? What barriers are there to them completing their tasks? This is another one of those things that shouldn’t happen just because an employee is working remotely—managers should be doing this anyway. Encourage employees to take regular breaks, to clock off and tell them often how appreciative you are of their work. Again; if you’re not already doing this, you should be. So there you have it. Five work from home myths debunked!
COVID-19 has dramatically impacted every aspect of society and your workplace is no different. If your business can continue to operate with employees working remotely, consider this an opportunity. Adapting your processes and systems to facilitate remote working will never be a bad investment. We guarantee you that when COVID-19 is behind us, you’ll continue to reap the rewards of a flexible workplace. If you need help in transitioning your team to remote working, download this COVID-19 employer response pack. It contains a number of policies and guidelines focused on setting your team up for WFH success.