Sam Johns is a human resources specialist at Resume Genius. The company adopted a remote work policy several years ago allowing its employees to work from home several days per month.
Sam, why did Resume Genius introduce work from home policy? Remote work is still seen as a perk by many employers who usually allow their employees to work from home a day or two per week.
We encourage remote working because we’ve found that a change of scene gives our staff a productivity boost. Additionally, remote working allows employees greater flexibility. For example, if an employee is given an annoying 9 a.m.–5 p.m. window for their new sofa to be delivered, they appreciate being able to take the day off to work remotely from home.
At first, our management team was wary about permitting remote work, since we had fears about being able to maintain productivity and about colleagues missing meetings.
However, our employees pointed out that communication/collaboration tools like Slack and Google Drive allow employers to stay in touch with remote workers and track their progress — in real-time.
In terms of meetings, our policy states that remote working won’t usually be approved if an employee has a meeting scheduled for the same day. However, in practice, unless an employee is leading a meeting or is a key participant, they’re allowed to dial in so that they can listen and contribute to the discussion (if necessary).
Our employees also did research and presented us with reliable data that remote working is in the company’s best interest. Remote working boosts employee productivity, leads to lower operating costs and increases employee engagement.
Since we found that most of our objections to allowing remote working were unfounded, we decided to allow it for a trial period in which every employee had a remote work “allowance” of 16 hours per month. After this proved successful, we implemented our current policy in full.
What about loyalty? Do you think that remote working has any impact on headcount turnover?
We’ve found that since employees appreciate the flexibility that comes with remote working, loyalty toward the firm increases, in turn reducing employee turnover. Allowing remote working is a sign that we trust our employees, which we’ve found goes a long way to boosting employee morale, especially among Gen Z.
These “digital natives” are supremely confident using technology, and love the freedom and independence associated with remote working.
Additionally, we encourage team leaders to take their teams out for collaborative remote working days. They’ll usually set themselves up in a coworking space or amenable cafe. Since these days are organized by team leaders, all of the expenses (drinks, lunch, and any extras) are on the company — a perk that’s really appreciated by team members.
One thing that I admit has surprised me is that those who took relatively more remote workdays eventually made an about-face and started coming into the office more. The reason? Loneliness.
Managers need to look into this growing phenomenon and consider ways to alleviate the problem. Personally, I’m in favor of having at least one “all-hands” day per week where workers are asked to come into the office.
That way, feelings of loneliness can be tackled. In addition, the entire team can touch base, and announcements can be made without worrying that some people might miss them.
Work from home comes with many distractions. There may be kids playing around, pets demanding attention or household chores that seem urgent. Are remote workers as productive as their peers working 9 to 5?
In all honesty, I have noticed — among those under me — that productivity increases among staff who are remote working, especially if they work remotely less often (for instance, once or twice a month).
I think this boils down to a desire to prove that they deserve the privilege of working remotely. Personally, when I work from home, I don’t want my own superior to wonder what I’ve been doing all day, which is probably why I work a little bit harder than usual.
One thing that helps is that Resume Genius has smaller-sized teams than comparable firms. Usually, three to four people make up a team, working on a project together. The advantage of this is that if one person is slowing the team down, they are easier to identify.
Then, that person can be offered whatever help they might need to catch up to speed, such as extra training or closer supervision. If they’re simply slacking off, their remote working privileges can be suspended for a while until they’ve caught up to the rest of the team.
You have experience with both in-house and remote teams. Is it easier or harder to manage remote teams?
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to manage remote teams and measure their productivity. The team here at Resume Genius uses various web-based tools to set deadlines and track progress. Trello is one example, which allows supervisors to set due dates for each task and monitor remote-day objective fulfillment. Employees can easily use Trello to mark when they’re starting, working on, and completing a project.
We also use Slack to communicate, both in the office and when remote working. Since it usually takes colleagues only a couple of minutes to reply to a message while they’re in the office, the ability to reply to a message in a similar timeframe while they’re remote working is a sign that they’re on task.
Additionally, we encourage team leaders to regularly take their teams out for remote work. This allows them to keep an eye on everyone’s progress and get to know their team members in a less formal setting. Going out together helps leaders better connect and more effectively manage their teams.
Resume Genius is not an all-remote company. Do remote working arrangements allow you to tap into a diverse talent pool given that employees are expected to work in-office most of the time?
Despite being based in North Carolina, Resume Genius has full-time staff working in diverse locations such as Britain, Taiwan, and Poland.
We can source talent and select the most qualified candidates since we’re not limited by geographical factors thanks to our remote working policy.
And because we’re used to working with team members in different time zones, our North Carolina-based staff can combine PTO and remote work to head to another continent to spend a little extra time in a new place. I recently spent 2 weeks of combined PTO and remote work in Vietnam, working from an inexpensive ($5 a day!) coworking space in Saigon. It wasn’t a problem since I could check out what my staff had been working on while they slept, and they could get on with their work while I was relaxing by the pool.
Overall, remote working delivers the best results when combined with face time and meetings in person.