Remote work is part of our future. Period.
In this article, I talked about how 63% of employers now have remote employees and how you can still create a strong culture even if your team is spread out.
But so many people I know are still trying to fight it. They want the butt in the chair. They want the false sense of security that accompanies keeping an eye on people. And I can tell you for certain that a physical presence does NOT mean an employee is working.
It all comes down to a lack of trust. If you don’t trust your people to get their work done no matter where they are then:
- You shouldn’t have hired them in the first place
- You as a leader have created an environment where people are motivated by the wrong things
Change isn’t easy. But the best leaders are the ones who recognize its importance and force themselves to evolve their practices even when it’s uncomfortable.
I’m a big fan of Jellyvision’s CEO, Amanda Lannert. I was listening to her speak once, and an audience member asked this question:
“I can’t stand that my employees are always on their phones in my weekly team meeting. This new generation just can’t put them down. How do you get your team members to put the phone down and focus on what you’re saying to them?”
Amanda said, “That’s a battle you won’t win. Can you make the meeting more engaging? Does it even need to be an hour-long meeting at all or can it be a 15-minute Slack frenzy?”
The audience member looked stunned and somewhat disappointed. I think she was hoping for some shared moaning and groaning about these youngsters. But instead, she got innovation. A new way to even think about how to get the job done. In my head, I gave Amanda’s response a big ole “amen!”
So we can all moan and groan about the way to the world is evolving. About people wanting to stay home and work in their sweatpants. Or we can embrace it.
We can find new ways to motivate and engage our teams. We can celebrate the positives of no commutes and flexible schedules. We can coach our team members and hold them accountable to their commitments whether they are in Baltimore or Buenos Aires. We can create hybrid schedules of some in-person days and some remote days. We can tailor schedules to the times when people are most productive.
There will always be business objectives to accomplish, and so I’m not saying it should be a complete free for all. We still need to find times to check in, to collaborate, to have meetings. I’m simply saying it’s time to open our minds. To start to consider new ways to get the job done.
It’s time to evolve our thinking about remote work, or sooner or later, we will be the ones left at home.
This week’s challenge
Think about one thing you do each week that has just ‘always been done that way.’ Challenge yourself to think of a new way to approach it. Maybe the meeting can be accomplished in 20 minutes instead of 60. Maybe a time-consuming process isn’t relevant anymore and should be tweaked or eliminated. Maybe a new technology can help you do something more efficiently. This week, really challenge yourself to evolve forward.
We know you want to learn more. Here are some of our favorite additional resources:
- If you’re changing careers: 12 Companies that Let You Work Remotely
- Watch a TED Talk by Air BnB Exec Chip Conley: What Baby Boomers Can Learn from Millennials – And Vice Versa
- Start innovating: How to Train Your Brain to be More Innovative
- Get your own toolkit: Download a Digital Design Thinking Toolkit from IDEO