Remote work -- either full-time or the occasional work from home day -- is appealing for many employees. Working from home can cut out commuting time and expenses, enable people to more easily balance their family and work duties, and even increase productivity.
But from a company perspective, the story is a bit different. While some organizations are fully on board with this trend, others are skeptical. How can we make sure people are working if we can't see them working? How do we know remote workers aren't on the beach during work hours? Maybe you've even heard about or experienced a real remote work horror story -- where an employee who was "working from home" was doing anything but.
Leaders hesitant about remote work either don't offer work from home as an option, or introduce tracking systems that put the onus on the employee to prove they're working.
However, putting the focus on employees is the wrong approach. When remote work policies fail, it means employees goals and expectations aren't clearly defined -- and that's on managers.
Managing on Results
Instead of managing on how or where someone works, managers' time is better spent on results -- and managing on results is exactly what makes a remote work policy work.
What goals is a given employee expected to achieve? Within what guidelines? By what deadline? Clearly defining what someone is expected to achieve up front -- and then measuring whether they deliver those results -- means there's no need to track when or where someone works. Because it's irrelevant.
So if you're feeling skittish about remote work, look to your managers. Examine their goal setting and communication processes. If goals are vague or not clearly communicated, then any work from home or remote work program will be set up to fail from the start. Not to mention that if expectations are unclear, you likely have a larger performance issue on your hands -- even for employees who work in the office.