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October 3, 2017

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Learning to trust your employees to work from home

 

Editor's Comments:  I have been involved in designing flexible work programs since 2000.  The issue of 'trust' was a major concern in the early days of 'telework' when remote workers and supervisors had little more than internet and email to rely on.  Today there are a variety of collaboration tools, including presence and video conference to support remote workers, in ways we never thought possible.   The fact that 'trust' is still an issue nearly 20 years after the first programs were introduced only highlights the fact that when it comes to flexible work options we are still dealing with 'people'.  A well designed and comprehensive Flexible Work strategy can help to address this and other critical issues around remote work.   Susan

 

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It’s been more than a decade since early adopters such as Telus Corp. began offering remote working options. Yet, despite measured gains, such as lower overhead costs and employee turnover rates as well as higher employee satisfaction, some corporate managers in Canada still have difficulty trusting staff to work from home. At the same time, employees worry they will be considered less productive if not physically present in the office.

 

“If you've had the same managerial style for a long time it can be scary to change that up and learn to trust your employees when they're not around,” said Brie Reynolds, the senior career specialist for FlexJobs. “Any manager that's interested in growing as a manager can do it, but it does require that shift.”

 

According to a meta-analysis by Global Workplace Analytics, three-quarters of managers say they trust their employees, but one-third would still prefer to see them perform their duties in the office “just to be sure.” Furthermore, a recent study by collaboration- and communication-technology provider Polycom Inc., found that 62 per cent of remote employees fear that their co-workers view them as less productive.

 

“The new way of working is really focusing more on output, and I think if an employer can focus on that versus amount of time and location of work, it works to their benefit, because employees are more productive when they have that flexibility,” said Jim Kruger, Polycom’s chief marketing officer.

 

Though Telus had no formal company-wide remote working policy before 2006, individual departments and managers had already been allowing their teams to work from home part-time as a perk well before then. “This was when mobile technologies were just starting to kick off, and I would say that our overall office occupancy was sitting around 50 or 60 per cent,” said Geoff de Bruijn, the company’s vice-president of corporate services and sustainability.

 

This realization prompted Telus to create the Work Styles program, which provides flexible working options for most staff. The company’s 26,000 Canadian employees however, need to earn the right to work remotely, and about 70 per cent of those eligible take advantage.  Read the whole article...

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