It still amazes me that there are people as backward and archaic in their thinking as Charter Spectrum CEO Tom Rutledge who think that the only way work get’s done if people are in the office. This is fundamentally incorrect and that line of thinking will soon start to be detrimental to those businesses trying to keep “productivity up” and the best candidates are going to choose Working From Home (WFH) opportunities over ones that force “asses in seats”.
There are some jobs, that just cannot be done from home. Network Technicians, Repair and Maintenance Professionals, Clearing Staff, Delivery Personnel, etc. But there are a lot of positions that can easily be done from home; Software Development, Call Center and pretty much every back office position like analysts, HR, etc.
Unless a position has to physically interact with something in a location that cannot be mailed or shipped to another location, it’s a position that can WFH. This isn’t a win for just the employee in the relationship, it’s also a win for the company and that lack of knowledge is going to start putting companies at a competitive disadvantage. So let me break down a couple of myths about Working From Home based on my 8 years of experience doing it and being one of the first fully WFH at a large company.
Myth 1: “Employees Won’t Work!”
This is my favorite WFH myth, because I’m going to let you in on a secret….the same people who would totally goof off and watch Maury on TV all day if you let them work from home, they already do that in an office. I know, mind blown right? Like as a skilled businessman and intellectual genius of the stature of Charter Spectrum CEO Tom Rutledge there is no way he would miss that tomfoolery’s right? If you hire the right people and treat them like valued individuals they are going to most likely go above and beyond every day no matter where they are working from.
Why this is my favorite myth is because the exact opposite is true. When I worked in an office, when I left that was it. My computer, all my work stuff, was contained in that building. But now when I work from home, my work laptop is right next to my home pc, I routinely check Slack, Email, system statuses after hours and I tend to work longer in the day because I’m not rushing out the door to beat traffic or run errands on the way home.
Companies will find that their remote or working from home, workforce will be working more over time vs in the office.
Myth 2: “No Collaboration or Ad-hoc Conversations”
This is a deep rooted myth, with the rise of “Open Floorplan” or “Open Space” offices businesses like to think that it spur’s collaboration, ad-hoc conversations with people, or you can overhear something and reach out or apply it to your team. Well exactly none of that is true. Open Floorplan or Open Space office layouts are a cheap way to cram a bunch of people into an office, nothing more. These office designs lead to unproductivity, mental distress, interference and sometimes anger.
Close proximity, with no walls or personal space doesn’t make collaboration magically happen. Ad-hoc conversations don’t occur because people in those office designs are almost always have headphones on anyways and still be distracted by random visual stimulus.
You know what creates Collaboration? Engineering collisions between people and teams around a shared concept or interest. For example if your a tech company you can working groups, or “Communities of Practice” around concepts that people can join and talk about. This is all very easily done over tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and/or Zoom.
Working remotely I’ve had more tight friendships then I ever had when I went into an office. People tend to share more over written sentences via a chat system like Slack verses face to face, so you tend to get more info and develop trust easier. Then when you do meet up, like for a team onsite, most of the awkward first\new social interaction stuff is gone.
Myth 3: “It Costs Money”
Portable hardware, like a laptop, costs more then a desktop machine and is more difficult to repair. Employers may have to pay or help subsidize LTE or Broadband for their employees. Hardware for remote access, like VPN servers or Firewalls are expensive and so do the VPN seats/connections.
These are all true, but things your business should be doing anyways. Desktops are great for people that need the raw horsepower a workstation can provide. High end business laptops provide more then enough power for most developers and are more then enough for every single back office or standard office position. Additionally laptops allow your personnel to move around, travel conveniently without “checking out” a laptop from IT and always have their system setup how they want to work. Instead of having every cubicle in an office with a laptop, companies buy desktops and then have those hooked up to UPS’s in case the power goes out, that costs more then an equivalent laptop and is infinitely more flexible.
Setting up for remote work isn’t cheap, but you can save far more money as a business by right-sizing your office space, utilizing techniques like hot-desking for when people travel in.
Myth 4: “It’s Insecure”
Enabling working from home, regardless of your providing the hardware or not, can be just as insure as a desktop installed in an office. The risk factors are the same, and proper education of your staff on how to keep their system secure and utilizing proper engineering and technologically controls; for example “find my device” and full disk encryption, will keep your network and systems secure.
It can be done, and companies do it every day. If someone says “we can’t do it because of security” then they either don’t know how to do it properly and you need to hire and expert or they are unwilling to put the effort in to enable working from home as a business function.
The benefits to having the capability of a mobile and a remote workforce far outweigh any drawbacks. Imagine hiring the best talent from anywhere, having continuity of business operations in a local or regional disaster, being flexible about where your company physically does business, unlocking the capability of your staff to help and respond to issues after hours and so much more.
Business that don’t allow or don’t like people working from home almost always do it because they feel like they will “loose control” of their staff and people won’t work. Honestly, those are archaic ways of thinking and not in line with progressive business leaders. Most people can and will get their work done, and more, when working from home if your hiring the right people, empowering them and trusting them.
Don’t be a dinosaur like Charter Spectrum CEO Tom Rutledge, embrace this trend and your business will do better then ever before.