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Why Some Companies Can’t Handle Remote Work

Remote Work

Mary allows her employees to work remotely.

Dick makes his employees come into the office.

Don’t be a Dick.

Providing remote work opportunity to employees offers benefits to employers and workers alike. Increased productivity and efficiency, boosted employee morale and engagement, lower stress, reduced turnover and decreased overhead costs.

It’s no surprise that organizations are getting increasingly attuned to the positive impacts made by job flexibility on an organization. Employees working remotely are mostly happier than those who are required to come into the office every day.  Happier employees => happier clients => higher revenues => higher employee retention => less money and energy spent on recruiting and ramping up talent.

So, why do some companies thrive on a remote workforce model while others fail?  Companies who fail to embrace remote work all have a couple things in common – they lack innovation and are antiquated. They’re mostly large AF organizations that can’t handle change. Having a large workforce can naturally make it difficult to effectively transition into a distributed workforce.


That said, it’s certainly doable, as proven by sizable companies like Apple and Amazon who have successfully made work flexibility a part of their culture.  

IBM brought thousands of remote workers back into the office and spent $750M to remodel their workplaces. Why? To “provoke creative tension” for in-person meetings. Maybe the money they spent on interior decor would have been better-spent training managers on how to be awesome leaders.

Leaders who can communicate effectively with their virtual team members. Ones who’ve been provided the software and tools they need to be successful.


How do we succeed in the remote workforce? We INVEST.  

INVEST in people

Companies should focus on what’s required to hire the right talent.  They should invest in training and developing managers on keeping employees engaged, recognizing their contributions, and effectively communicating and empathizing with them.

If hiring remote talent, assess whether they are intrinsically motivated and have the ability to prioritize responsibilities. And if they have good problem-solving and communication skills, and able to work well both convergently and divergently. Without these key traits, your virtual team may not be able to show the results you need. You also want people who can set their own boundaries and create a structure that prevents work-life merge (the opposite of work-life balance). With all the benefits of having a distributed workforce, it’s time to hop on the remote workers’ bandwagon! Start altering your employee selection process by asking the right questions to find the right people.


INVEST in tools

For those still hesitant about having a distributed workforce, consider that the companies that have failed to implement remote work effectively were not providing their employees the right tools or support to succeed in a virtual environment. Some examples of these tools? There are literally so many. G Suite (Google’s cloud-based storage and file sharing suite), Zoom (video and web conferencing service), Trello (web-based project management system), Asana (application designed to help teams track their work) and InVision (digital product design platform with real-time collaboration) are just a few – but the list goes on. These progressive tools not only help companies get their sh*t done without physically being in the office but also to do it well. And we should use them!


INVEST in employee recognition and cultivating productivity

Keeping your remote workers appreciated and recognized will increase their engagement as well as retention.  Using tools like the peer-to-peer bonus system such as Bonus.ly or the coworker recognition platform like Hey Taco can do wonders for an employee’s ego.  Gratitude is contagious!

Ultimately, having an effective distributed workforce comes down to the company culture. Because employees aren’t meeting face-to-face on a regular basis, developing a culture based on trust and collaboration is important.

How can you cultivate this? Maybe create a forum where your employees can post both work-related and personal messages. Any form of informal messages board where they can chat and ask questions, as well as post their accomplishments. Tools like Slack help workers feel a sense of community and connection to their co-workers by offering an easy messaging system for communicating in real time. 

Remember this guy ? →

Encourage employees not to freak out when someone walks by during a video conference. Tell employees it’s okay to show others their lives. It’s okay and it allows people to get to know one another and to bond. We’re not robots, so let’s stop acting like we are when it comes to work. In fact, remote work lifestyles can encourage employees to develop their “non-work selves”.

Did the companies that failed at the distributed workforce model hire the right type of talent to work remotely? Did they provide their distributed workforce with optimal tools needed?  Or did their managers effectively communicate and recognize their employees the way they deserved? Did they make conscious efforts to keep them motivated and engaged?

There are so many examples of companies that are succeeding, no, KILLING IT out there – despite a remote workforce. We need to move away from Flintstones “traditional” company ideas and break the boundaries of productivity. Remote work FTW!

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