Remote Work: Trust Your Teams
With many parts of the country slowly starting to relax restrictions on indoor gatherings and business closures due to Covid-19, some companies are now allowing more employees back into traditional office spaces. BITS is one of those companies – we’re allowing some employees, in a limited capacity and with some restrictions, to return to the office on a voluntary basis. Like many other companies, a timeline for a full return to the office is still unknown, but BITS has always allowed employees the option to occasionally work from home and will continue to allow that flexibility even after we return to our usual working conditions.
Some big companies – like Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce and Google have announced that all employees can now work from home full-time through at least the end of the year – and permanently for some, with companies like Microsoft and Amazon extending work from home policies through the end of October. From a recent informal poll with some BITS customers, we found that many of our community banks are more open to allowing employees the option to work from home occasionally, which signals a large cultural shift from just last fall.
Due to the forced work-from-home situation this spring and summer, many more companies have realized that their employees are not only getting their work done, but they can actually be more productive from home as well. Additionally, when allowing employees to work remotely, companies may find their employees’ actual working hours increase because they aren’t spending time traveling to and from the office on commutes or talking to coworkers about non work-related topics throughout the day.
In a New York Times article last week, Cisco’s Chief People Officer, Fran Katsoudas, said that their data proves that many employees accomplish more while working remotely than if they were in the office; their customer service representatives have taken more calls, and their customers have been more satisfied with the help they received over the last few months with employees working remotely than when they worked in the office.
But not all companies have the data to show that their employees are productive. The unfortunate reality is that many managers and executives still believe that the only way to ensure that their teams are actually working is to have them in the same building to physically check up on them. While there are software solutions to show management when employees log in and log off and what applications they use throughout the day, the most important tool employers should have with their employees is trust.
Trust, but Verify: it’s a signature phrase from President Ronald Reagan in the late 80s. By trusting that your employees are working when they should and seeing that they are continually producing results, there should be no need to verify. But, sometimes there may be a case when you do need to verify – like when an employee clearly isn’t getting their work done or isn’t active during normal work hours like they should be. While there are programs and software available that can allow you track your employees’ day-to-day activities, it doesn’t inspire much confidence in them when they know you are tracking their every move.
Instead, we encourage companies to support their employees with a collaboration tool, like Cisco Webex, where team members can easily communicate via a desktop or mobile application. By allowing your teams the freedom to communicate frequently, employees feel more connected to the organization and their jobs. Additionally, providing employees access to productivity monitors, such as MyAnalytics/Insights from Microsoft, your teams can monitor their own daily activities to see how they are spending their time. This may influence their decisions when scheduling how they plan their days.
Research also shows that executives and managers who have worked remotely themselves trust employees to get their tasks done while working remotely because they can relate their own productivity to that of their staff. By July of 2020, the vast majority of the country’s workforce has been working remotely for at least some time. A cultural shift towards the acceptance of allowing employees to work remotely isn’t just coming – it’s here.
In future blog posts, we’ll discuss more on our suggestions on how you can allow employees work from home while continuing to securely service your banking customers.