Has the “work from home” (WFM) option improved worker’s lives? The results are mixed. On one hand, employees value the flexibility to work from home and companies seem to benefit through increased productivity (though that benefit is subject to some bias). On the other hand, WFM employees are more disengaged and more likely to quit.
Long-time readers will recall that I’ve addressed the linkage between employee engagement and profitability. In a recent Twitter exchange, a friend of mine suggested that the solution is to merge “CX and EX programs into a cohesive whole. Yin and Yang so to speak in balance. Once in balance they feed off each other in a virtuous circle, success breeding success.” (CX is customer experience and EX is employee experience.)
A successful WFH program needs similar balance. WFH can be a positive because it attracts employees and adds flexibility to employees’ lives. It becomes a negative when employees drift away from the community of their co-workers. Here are some recommendations of how to craft a successful work from home program.
- Set days/times when employees must be in the office. Not always possible with a truly remote workforce, but if possible, the networking benefits and teamwork fostered are well worth it.
- Define what overuse looks like and stand by those guidelines. Basically, we’re trying to prevent someone from sliding down the slippery slope that leads out your doors to a competitor!
- Offer the program! What can I say? Even if employees become disengaged, they think they want it… so you have to offer it.
- Ensure each employee has a face-to-face interaction with their manager several times a year. Companies that try to save money by skipping the interaction are short-sighted – and well on their way to higher than needed employee turnover.
- Supplement those meetings with video conferences. I am a vidconvert (new word… video conference convert… think it will catch on?). Once you’ve established a personal relationship, vidcons are effective ways to communicate. Reading expressions such as disappointment, confusion, happiness, concern, etc. are useful tools to helping employees and managers work better together.
When all is said and done, the answer to my rhetorical question above is, “not much.” The pivot point is that by deliberately setting up parameters for employees (to give flexibility) and responsibilities for management (to provide ongoing support), the balance can be incredibly rewarding for employees, companies, and shareholders alike.