Let Your Employees Go!
Every time I meet with people and the topic of the conversation leads to remote work and I start preaching about how awesome it is, one of the most common things I hear is:
- My boss would never let me work from home. He/she wants to see me every day in front of my computer in the office.
My answer is always the same. There are gradual ways to make some bosses agree to that. Of course this does not apply to all bosses, especially if they are older, and in some cases the only solution is to look for another job.
So, this one is for all the control freak bosses around there. I have been running a remote company for 12 years now so I know what I am talking about :). Feel free to put me in touch with your boss and I’d love to explain in person why it is good to give this freedom to your employees.
When your employee comes to you with a request to grant them anything that goes beyond your contractual agreement, they are getting out of their communication comfort zone. They are getting into some sort of tentative conflict, which is not an easy thing to do. Indeed, there must be a reason for that. Try to listen first and understand where the request is coming from.
Once you do you can then decide if you want to grant that request or not. Be a normal human being. I am talking about any request. Understanding and genuinely empathizing with your employees will make the work vibe a million times better.
Now let’s assume that you granted your employee the request. Usually what happens is that they appreciate the fact that you did something you didn’t have to. They will be very thankful and the best way for them to express their gratitude towards you would be to work harder and more efficiently. So, at the end of the day you, your employee and your company will all benefit.
If the request is to work from home for a day or a few days a week and you don’t feel comfortable with the idea, remember that you could always change your mind. Why not give it a little trial period? Try a month and evaluate if it works for you as an employer. Before trying, ask your employee to come up with solutions for all the possible case scenarios of when they might be needed physically in the office. Try with one or 2 days a week and see if you can cope with it. Measure their performance when in and out of the office and decide.
Let me also state a few obvious (to me) facts about remote work. Your employee will not have to commute to work, which means they can start to work earlier or more rested. You will benefit from this in both cases.
The same applies for the end of the day. They are not in the office in which you pay for. They are not consuming any resources such as electricity, paper, coffee, lunch, parking and whatever you offer your employees. Therefore, from a strictly financial point of view you are saving money.
I know it feels like you are in control when all of your employees are a few steps/floors away, but do you actually need them in the office if they have done what you need them to do? I often hear the argument that if you let one guy work from home you will have to let everyone go and then it will be a total chaos. Yes, if you randomly let everyone go then it will, but you are still the boss and you can make rules of how to do this in a way that works for everyone. Maybe you can also work from home one day a week.
I know that change is not easy. Change requires an effort and usually during the transition period it will be harder that whatever the situation is at this very moment, but we live in a dynamic environment and change is necessary and even compulsory.
I will write another blog post about the tools that we use to bridge the lack of an office and how you could integrate them into your ecosystem and make the shift easier.
Last but definitely not least, in the words of my partner in crime David:
- If your employer can give you the freedom to work from a place that suits your lifestyle needs, you will be a much happier person than one that is obliged to go to a place that you do not want to be. And when you are happier you will perform much better and your employer will benefit from it as much as you do.
Feel free to drop me a line if you want consulting during this process.