The way we work has, for decades, created a tremendous impact on our lifestyle and our state of happiness. This couldn’t hold more true than it does right now. We live in a time where we have more options available to us in terms of how we work than we ever did before. Technology has certainly revolutionized this in many ways, in particular through remote work and teams.
The recent worldwide events have brought remote work and teams to the forefront. With forced isolation upon us, it was the only available way to keep business moving forward. This unexpected foray into the world of remote work unveiled some interesting questions. Was remote work really a better way to work? What impact did it have on the human side of things?
There has been a lot of emphasis put on how remote work can cut down on unnecessary costs and allow a business to run a more streamlined and efficient business model. While this is certainly true, it is only a small part of the story. Contrary to what many people think, remote work actually has a positive impact on the well being and happiness levels of your employees, as well as a source of empowerment both personally and professionally. I feel this topic is worth a deeper dive, as it can hold a great opportunity to create an empowering workspace for your team.
The set up of remote teams, and the structure of remote work overall, is very different from that of a normal group within an organization. Remote work is focused on deliverables, how and when you do the work to complete that deliverable does not matter. As long as the deliverable is completed and the goal reached, the rest is up to the worker in how they want to get there. Schedules are flexible. This shift in the way work gets done opens up many new doors and opportunities for both workers and organizations.
Here are a few of the top impacts it can have:
Work/life balance is a constant struggle for most of us, particularly in the fast paced world we currently live in. Work takes up 8 hours a day, and then some time either before or after those 8 hours (or both) we try to fit the rest of our lives in. Remote work however, offers up relief from this. By removing the work commute and implementing a flexible schedule, workers are able to create more harmonious flow within their day and reduce the stress associated with a packed daily schedule. There is a lot to be said in simply knowing you can take your children to school in the morning without the rush, or being able to schedule a doctor’s appointment during the day without having to take vacation time to do it. By enabling this healthier ease and flow within your employee’s lives, you are contributing to increasing their overall happiness state. Why would an organization bother? Happy workers = more productivity, loyalty and commitment. It is a win/win for everyone.
Empowered and skilled employees and teams
An interesting thing happens when organizations decide to begin implementing remote work into their culture: a shift begins to take place where communication starts to become less top-down and more down-up. The nature and structure of remote work facilitates higher employee and team engagement and an overall sense of empowerment. Why? Trust. When an organization implements remote work and flexible schedules, it sends the message out that they trust their employees. They know that the work will get done, productivity and efficiency are not by- products of being physically present within the office. When an employee knows they are trusted, magic happens. They step up, they go the extra mile, they engage and take greater interest in their work as well as improvements to it and themselves. The organization ends up with a fully present and engaged worker who takes interest in the organization and holds what is best for it at heart. All of that positive impact by simply saying “I trust you.”
Another factor that comes into play here is the up-level in skill sets amongst employees that transpires with remote work. Geographical location has a great impact on the level of skill sets an organization has access to. By removing this element, all of a sudden the skill pool opens up and companies are able to hire people with more of the skill sets they require, which results in higher quality work for the organization. On the flip side of this, remote work enables people to apply to jobs they normally would not have access to and more in line with their skills and strengths. Rather than compromising their goals and strengths for a job due to location, people can now step into work they love.
Leadership vs. management
This is probably my favourite out of all of them. Before an organization moves over to remote teams and work structures, an important mindset shift is required, both within the organizational culture across the board and from those at the top. That shift is moving from managing to leading. Any organizations that have micro-management at the core of their processes will find it very difficult to move to remote work structures. You cannot successfully micro-manage a remote team. At least not without a lot of headache and stress. A thriving and efficient remote team is simply not designed for that. Not only that, but micro-managing a remote team will have detrimental effects on the morale of the team, the results produced by them, and ultimately the company.
The future or work is changing rapidly, and within this change I see great opportunity for positive growth. For too long we have seen people being unfulfilled in their work roles and feeling very distant from any real contribution to the bigger picture. With the move towards more digital and remote work, we are seeing this shift. Remote work is built around people being able to grow within their role and workers being provided with more and more opportunity to provide their input and ideas, and actually seeing that input be used within the decision making processes.
Despite the fear many people hold around digital and remote work, I see this as a very exciting time where both workers and organizations have an opportunity to make some meaningful shifts and help both their businesses evolve to a higher and more impactful level, as well as contribute in much greater ways to individual growth and happiness. The choice is now ours.