I am old enough to say that when I started working I would never have dreamed that “working from home” would go from being an exception to an accepted practice. At Soriant all of our consultants live in different cities/states which causes us to have to work remotely. Clearly there is a level of trust that must occur for this to be successful and in the end it is truly about the results attained versus the hours worked that counts.
Working remotely is not for everyone. You are denied the normal socialization around the “water cooler.” That alone can make working remotely too lonely for some personality types. It is truly an adjustment. Personally, I am so grateful that I no longer have a two plus hour a day commute. When my children where small, I would avoid some of it by going in to work early and then attempting to leave early which normally resulted in just staying later and missing more of my children’s life. Obviously not having to manage through traffic is a great benefit and there are not the normal level of distractions. To be able to multitask to include putting in a load of laundry or setting up the crock pot for dinner is a nice advantage. But self-discipline is key and it all boils down to results. At Soriant we are lucky to have the right self-starters that make it a win-win for our consultants, our clients and ultimately for Soriant. It’s about knowing what the needed key ingredient are that make up a successful recipe, I think they include:
- Providing the right tools and training up front. Creativity and sharing of information has to be nurtured and maintained. In all business models there needs to always be a level of stimulation and sharing of information to continue a high level of creativity and innovation. We have established an intranet site that is continually growing to provide most everything at a consultant’s fingertip. It is ever changing and growing but key in minimizing frustrations or impacting productivity. One example of a tool we use is keeping our working files for all our users on https://www.dropbox.com/
- A culture of trust and empowerment– letting our self-starters do what they do well on their own terms as long as we get the great results that we do
- Encourage a remote community – through team conference calls and online events and having at least once a year face to face team meetings that include social interactions. This year we participated in an “escape room activity” http://atlanta.escapetheroom.com/ (picture of the group of us in front of escape logo would be good to share)
- Accountability and Management – the skills of the leadership team has to offer the balance of independence and accountability. Managers have to set goals and monitor performance while allowing for the flexibility that is inherent to remote work.
Forbes article “Remote Working: Who’s Right?” adds insight of selecting the right people for this kind of environment http://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardlawler/2013/05/15/remote-working-whos-right/#23d466ed3bb0. The key is selecting people that do not need their performance controlled. Allowing people to work independently and have their productivity measured by their results. This may not be possible for all job types or business models but it does offer a level of freedom and flexibility that cannot fully be measured in dollars and cents. How much is not setting in an hour of Atlanta traffic worth to you?
With today’s technology tools including webinars the modern workplace is anywhere anytime as long as you have internet access. With the ability to have face to face online meeting with anyone from clients to tax attorney’s (yes I just had one of these this week) the work environment has taken on a new dynamic that allows us to attain a better quality of life. With the right expectations, trust and open communication Soriant is thriving in this environment.