Working from home has long been a taboo topic for many businesses – but not anymore.
The relentless onslaught of the coronavirus is having a profound effect on the lives of everyone across the globe with governments now demanding those that can, work from home.
Improved digital infrastructure and an array of online applications has seen a growth in home working, however, it has always the preserve of the few. Not anymore – it has just got a whole lot larger.
For many team managers and executives, they are going into unchartered waters as they can no longer personally interact, oversee and monitor staff.
This new move to mass home working raises the question of trust, which has long been an reason for restricting remote working.
Yet, the many who do work from home – even on the rare occasion – will testify they are more productive as they are able to concentrate on the tasks without the habitual interruptions that happen in the workplace.
So, as businesses adjust to this seismic upheaval in working behaviour, it is important that leaders can still lead, can manage their team effectively and that they trust each of them to continue to do a professional job.
Let’s be frank, why hire them as employees in the first place if you didn’t trust them to carry out their responsibilities. But many companies and managers, are guilty of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach and don’t think employees will do the work required.
According to research by Global Workplace Analytics, three-quarters of managers say they trust their employees, but one-third would still prefer to see them perform their duties in the office “just to be sure.”
However, this thinking needs to be eradicated. Managers need to show they have trust. In 2018, Gallup conducted a survey of more than 10,000 remote workers in the US and ‘trust’ came top of the list of the most desired attributes employees required from their bosses.
Trust is a two-way street, and when both parties have that, it unlocks the performance potential.
The survey’s authors Adam Hickman PhD and Tonya Fredstrom claim: “When employees don’t trust organisational leadership, their chances of being engaged are one in 12. But when that trust is established, the chances of engagement skyrocket to better than one in two. That’s more than a six-fold increase.”
They pinpoint three key criteria bosses need to do to build trust for employees working remotely.
Set clear expectations. Provide your remote employees with the right work, an appropriate amount of work and performance expectations. Accurately setting these indicates your understanding of the job they do and the employee’s skills and attributes.
Provide the right tools. The sudden shift to home working can potentially cause issues. It is your job as manager to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. Ensure the employee has everything they need to be able to work remotely. Being unable to do their job because of poor equipment, lack of material or information such as log ins can quickly eradicate trust and motivation. Keep them engaged too, with regular ‘online’ team briefings.
Feedback. The shift to remote working eradicates instant feedback. This needs to be remedied so bosses need to ensure they are acknowledging work from employees, praising where due and talking up their talents and contribution to the business.
While certain roles in manufacturing may not lend themselves to home working, there will be employees who can contribute from remote locations.