Are Your Teams Working Remotely Now or Indefinitely? How Can You Trust they are “Working?”

Any time the words “work” and “remote” are used together, some people instantly wonder if it’s really possible to get the same level of work – and goals accomplished – when teams are not within arm’s reach? After all, if you can’t physically see them, can you really ensure they are getting their jobs done, and done well?

Years ago, this same question plagued colleges and education authorities, as the prevalence and popularity of “distance learning” infiltrated the world of higher education and even some of the more progressive secondary schools. Much research was done on the subject and the consensus ended up supporting the validity of the online, virtual, mode of education as compared to the traditional classroom.

Now, is it possible to use some of those lessons learned and outcomes discovered in regard to online education, when we look at similar concerns when it comes to all (or at least most) of our workers, working remotely?

First, it’s important to note that in recent years, the number and volume of companies and organizations already utilizing some level of flex hours or virtual employees, has dramatically increased on its own, under normal conditions.

Mostly, this change or variation from the more traditional in-office environment, was driven initially by the workers themselves who wanted more flexibility when it came to their requisite hours, to decrease their commute, or as a “perk” or “benefit.”

However, many employers also embraced the change as well, often because it meant overhead could often be reduced since less permanent office space was usually required if flex or remote workers could share space when they did come into the office for hours.

Thus, today, with “work from home” being more of a must-do than want-to-do due to COVID-19, it’s not as new for some companies and teams as it is for others.

Here are 3 things we can learn from those who have already been doing it for a bit, when it comes to how and why we can trust that work is getting done—and done as good as “before”:

  1. Encourage Transparency

One way to do this is through using group communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These apps let you forego email — and the possibility of others not getting critical messages or information — in lieu of more “public” channels that let multiple team members communicate together. This helps ensure that everyone sees and knows when important news is or has been passed along and thus, not only guards the sender from “didn’t get it” claims but also keeps all employees and team members engaged.

2. Set Clear Expectations and Stick to Them

As owner or Manager, it’s your job to make sure that employees continue to know what results or “output” are expected of them when they are “out there” on their own. This helps keep all parties aligned on tasks and goals, likely enhancing both focus and results when it comes to targets and objectives.

3. Focus on Output — Not Work “Hours”

Really, isn’t goal completion, target hitting, and success what we really ALL want from our teams? It should be.

Of course, it’s important that employees perform their duties and meet the requirements and expectations of their job. However, does it really matter WHEN that happens or how many hours it takes? “Tracking” employee time can diminish trust and increase job satisfaction for employees work in office or at home.

If their “job” or work isn’t getting done, obviously, that should be addressed. But again, that metric is what should matter most if you trust your employees—not how much time is spent on the computer or within a specific task. This is especially true since it’s often noted that high performers actually work in a more focused manner when working from home, instead of less. Thus, they can quite often accomplish more in less time, in a remote environment.

To reiterate, it really all comes down to trust. If you feel you have the right team, doing the right job, then you must trust them to do that job—no matter where they are doing it from at the time. If you can’t — or find yourself not satisfied with the quality or quantity of work that is being done — then that is really a bigger issue that has very little to do with whether those team members are working in the office or from home.