Much is said about teleworking these days. However, the percentage of companies that consider it as a valid option to improve the quality of life of their collaborators, reduce costs in physical facilities, contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions and improve mobility in large cities is still very low.
Everything seems to indicate that in Latin America the main factor preventing this trend from spreading is the difficulty of leading remote work teams successfully. This clearly represents some challenges since traditional work has been framed within the four walls of an office. However, the new workforce demands companies to be mobile and this means it is imperative for Human Resources operating across the entire organization to take these types of initiatives seriously. That requires successful modification of certain organizational, legal and technological aspects that in the short term seem to be complex but in the medium and long term are compensated by all the perceived benefits.
One of the main concerns company leaders have is the management of the productivity of remote personnel. Since close supervision has characterized the leadership style in our culture for years, it is a valid concern as most colleges and universities did not promote the autonomy required to carry out tasks and commitments on our own. Does anyone remember what happened in the classroom when the teacher left? This can undoubtedly have an impact on the way we behave in the workplace.
Maybe we lack the discipline to focus on our work and take small breaks that help us to be more productive. That is why the problem is not in telecommuting. The shift to productivity must be made from within: educating people to use their time better, to focus on activities that add value to their work within their working hours. To achieve this, companies must also commit to respecting their collaborators’ personal time. When this aspect is lacking, people become discouraged from being productive within their work hours because they know that they will eventually have to spend long hours in the office simply to comply with a cultural parameter that does not necessarily imply that it is producing more.
One of our customers noticed, with the use of our automatic productivity agent, that on Friday after 3pm the level of productivity of its employees decreased to less than 20%, representing an unnecessary expense having all staff using computers, lights, bathrooms, etc. in its facilities. With this information, they determined that on Fridays the workday would finish at 3pm in exchange for greater productivity and focus during the workday. The result has been a huge success. Team members arrive on Fridays happy and are much more productive because they know that at 3pm they will be able to completely disconnect and they can go and rest or do what they enjoy most!
Now that the company has metrics on how time is being invested in different departments and each member is aware of the use of their working time, they are ready to take the next step to a supplementary teleworking model in which they spend two days a week at home and the rest of the week they are in the office to interact with the rest of the team.
That said, teleworking can bring great benefits for companies and their collaborators if legal, organizational and technological aspects are considered from the beginning to guarantee the best conditions for both parties. In addition, it is essential to support employees in their quest to improve discipline, make better use of time to complete objectives and that there is trust from company leaders.
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