How Working Remotely Is Changing The Workspace

The ability to telecommute has been widely used by companies to attract top talent. Unfortunately its productivity gains have begun to be questioned. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ conducted a time use survey last year to get the details on working from home. According to the survey, the number of Americans who worked  from home dropped from 24% to 22% last year.

About 60% of US companies provide some telecommuting option. Data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about a quarter of the US workforce telecommutes at least part of the time and 80% to 90% of employees in the US say they would prefer to telecommute

Major Companies & Telecommuting

IBM found that its remote workers performed better when they were in the office with their colleagues. The company announced in February that about 2,600 people would be required to work in one of six designated US cities. Yahoo and Best Buy did the same back in 2013. Bank of America also joined the bandwagon of companies pulling workers back in. The argument? Work has become more team-based and a higher level of proximity is needed.

Is the End near for Telecommuting?

We may start to see a shift in companies providing work from home options. Instead, they will shift their focus to transforming their office spaces. The transformation will allow employees to “colocate” in satellite offices around the globe. To add to it, Business Insider previously reported that work spaces are evolving to suit the needs of its workers. They are providing a diverse mix of spaces, furniture, and amenities.

“Offering a selection of spaces for workers to choose from is going to become essential for business success,” said Ron Friedman, a social psychologist.

Fixing the Problems with Telecommuting, Employee Solutions

For Employees, there are many ways to fix problems they may have staying focused while telecommuting.

  • Create a routine and stick with it. Organize your day as if you were working outside your home. Establish a consistent wake-up time. Organize your morning with a workout, walk with your dog, cup of coffee, etc. just as you would if you were making a morning commute.
  • Schedule a lunch break and take regular breaks. (Actual breaks- not stepping away from your desk to do other chores around the house!) These go a long way toward keeping you focused and productive.
  • Establish your “work hours” ahead of time and communicate them to your team and managers. Make it clear when you will and will not answer phone calls and emails- and make no (or only a few) exceptions!
  • Avoid isolation. Incorporate video conferencing and Instant Messaging with your co-workers regularly. Schedule weekly or monthly office time when possible. Work in other locations outside your home, such as coffee shops and hourly work spaces.

Fixing the Problems with Telecommuting, Employer Solutions

As an employer, there are many ways to fix problems they may be having with their telecommuting employees.

  • Require “work hours” for all telecommuters and insist they share them with you. Then honor and respect those hours! Just as you wouldn’t chase them through the parking garage after hours, don’t harass them with late night phone calls and emails.
  • Facilitate video conferences regularly to connect your team. Do not simply organize them, facilitate them to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to speak and side conversations and decision making is shared with the group.
  • Be open to spontaneous calls from your mobile team. Do not automatically send them to voicemail when you are in the middle of something. If they were knocking on your office door, you’d acknowledge them, invite them in, and address the issue at hand. Treat your telecommuting team members the same way.
  • Keep the collaborative culture alive. Using Instant Messaging or in-office group chats allows your staff to share ideas and work together as a team.
  • Provide your remote employees with the technology and tools they need to be successful. Remember, you are saving on overhead by giving your employees the option to work remotely. Use some of that savings to invest in their success.

Add Comment