Archive for April, 2011
In an article in the Ottawa Citizen, middle management is said to be the biggest opposition when it comes to implementing a telecommuting program. Has your organization implemented a telecommuting program, and if they haven’t, why not?
I believe that the biggest barriers to telecommuting, hoteling, and other types of alternative workspace models is often the people side of the change. And what is often missed is that there is a large change for management, as well as the people who are actually utilizing the telecommuting option.
When implementing these programs, there needs to be a look at how to change the ways in which supervisors and managers interact with their people as well as how people get their work done. It also should cause companies to look at other policies surrounding the workspace. Traditional policies for sick days and such that are geared more towards “presenteeism” than towards productivity can also change.
But the trend to move away from dedicated workspace for all is growing and it aligns not just with the drive to cut costs but also to motivate your employees. Recent reserach into people motivation shows that freedom and flexibility are large motivators, especially for knowledge-based workers. That’s why companies that have even eliminated the tracking of vacation days have found good success with these programs. Give people the choice of where and when to get their jobs done and they will often perform better. But don’t ignore that the change happens not just to them, but to everyone working around them as well.
There are the 2 common myths that current perceptions and mis-conceptions on telecommuting that a company needs to overcome:
1. From employees: “Not being seen means I will be overlooked for promotions and the first to be let go in a restructuring”.
Choosing to telecommute is perceived by most to be a potential career limiting move. People feel that if there are restructuring moves teleworks hold the short straw. For job cuts, the belief is that those not seen are the easiest to let go first. Conversely, teleworkers worry they will be overlooked for promotions because they don’t feel they are as close to the decision makers nor bonding like others. Many feel too that teleworkers are not as committed to the company having chosen work-life balance over company loyalty. With these perceptions I found that if your company indoctrinates a formal teleworking registration process….no one wants to sign up and admit they are teleworking! Even with presented with a stipend to set up a home office “only if you register”….they still did not sign up! It’s a label no one wants on their HR profile.
A company and it’s executive leadership needs to embrace and champion telework as a competitive advantage and promote the use of it…..otherwise you cannot overcome the myth and these perceptions.
2. From managers: “How do I know they are working?”
Truth be told, productivity actually goes up! I have found that most people who telework work longer hours. Not having a separation from home and work often leads to having the work be too conveniently around you 24/7. The change management for teleworkers is more around keeping a work-life balance.
For middle managers it’s more around trust. Middle managers and up tend to be older generations who believe more in the traditional practices that you must be able to see the work being done….if they can’t then they spend their time trying to validate that people are working with check in processes. The change management for middle managers is shifting from monitoring the day-to-day processes you could always see, often without a clear end state developed, to managing endstate deliverables and setting expectations.
Companies need to retrain the way managers manage a virtual team in order for Telework to become part of the practice and culture.
This is why grass roots methods struggle in this space. Companies that embrace telework from the top find great success in productivity, hiring, retention and employee morale because they are providing what the people want while driving a more efficient, lower cost and higher productive business model.