A recent study shared in Forbes suggested that nearly 74% of business professionals expect remote work to become standard.
If historically your employees have worked from an office, is a shift to remote work possible? How will this impact team productivity and morale?
While recently interviewing employees in preparation for facilitating a strategic planning session, several suggested that they’d already proved that remote work can be effective, so they fully expected their employer to continue offering it.
The employer on the other hand believed that remote work diminishes both communication amongst the team and productivity of the team members.
In studies I’ve conducted during the past twelve months it’s become apparent that while some employees can in fact be highly productive working remote, others aren’t.
So how then can we allow employees to work remotely, but ensure they remain productive?
The answer is to introduce what I call Discretionary Work.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from lockdowns and remote work, it’s that most employees can work effectively if working remotely.
There are those who work so hard that they burn out, those that accomplish their work while retaining some level of balance, and those who can’t seem to focus long enough to get their work done. The solution is to introduce a framework for employees to work to, identifying key priorities, tasks, and estimated completion times.
Consider for a moment that anyone can take the directions from a piece of IKEA furniture and generally put it together. Sure, the components don’t always fit together, and not everyone is handy with tools, but when clear instructions, both written and visual are provided, most people can achieve a successful outcome.
Discretionary Work takes this concept one step further, providing time estimates that allow employees to plan their time accordingly (while also giving them a target to achieve).
A Discretionary Work plan is based on highlighting critical activities for a role. It includes the following components:
- Critical Activities – outlining fundamental activities that must be completed.
- Activity Highlights – highlighting key aspects of activities that can’t be missed or skipped.
- Activity Demonstrations – allowing employees to follow along based on their learning preferences, with content in written, visual, and audible form.
- Activity Estimates – suggesting times for completion of critical activities.
- Activity Measures – identifying key measures of performance that leaders will be tracking and introducing.
The key to this model, and to ensuring remote employees can be productive without burning out, is to provide them with the critical activities, instructions, and support to be successful.
By doing so, you can eliminate the concern of critical activities being missed but also avoid overwhelming employees with a minute-by-minute plan for their day. Essentially you empower your employees to be successful while working remotely.
Whether you introduce a Discretionary Work plan or use other methods, remote work is here to stay. The faster you can find a system that makes it work, the better your chances to retain top talent and attract more to your team.
© Shawn Casemore 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Read more about Shawn’s programs here.