More than half of Australian small businesses offer at least the ability for employees to work away from the office. Whether you do or not, Dynamic Business magazine offers some tips for making this work more effective – for performance, productivity, and a win-win situation for everybody:
- Lead from the front: Model this behaviour yourself, especially with use of collaboration technology and other similar tools
- Build a reciprocal environment of trust: Use technology to build and maintain trust in the team
- Provide location-based productivity tools: Invest in the right work environment and tools for your team
Out of Office work styles form part of a range of flexible work options employers can offer to help recruit and retain valuable employees. If you’re planning to offer flexible work options then it’s critical that you develop a coherent policy that provides guidelines for managing flexible work and encourages employees to use the policy to manage their own personal and work obligations.
Cynthia Calvert lists five essential elements that should be part of all flexible work policies:
- Designed by the organisation
- Allows employees to create schedules that fit their needs
- Reflects support of top management
- Provides all necessary information and fair terms
- Implemented strategically
Read the article in full here.
Some (but not all) Out of Office workers struggle with the isolation and independence of working from home, without other people around them. There are many options to address this issue, and one of them is to use a “coworking space”, where many people come together to share a working space, without necessarily working together. In other words, they just share the physical space, but work independently.
Coworking is gaining popularity among business owners and entrepreneurs, who like the idea of a space where they can work independently but still have stimulating conversations with other like-minded people. But it’s also a feasible option for employees who work Out of Office, who like to work with others.
If you’re interested in this for your own work, this article “Coworking connects entrepreneurs through shared office spaces” introduces some of the basic ideas about coworking.
Employee engagement is important regardless of whether your employees are co-located or working Out Of Office. However, the management practices needed to engender employee engagement can be quite different for these two groups of workers. SkilledUp.com suggests four tips for engaging Out Of Office employees:
- Communicate often and effectively, and not always about work-related issues
- Make sure to meet face-to-face, at least occasionally
- Remember to invite remote workers to important virtual meetings
- Recognise the accomplishments of remote workers
One of the biggest challenges to Out of Office work happens right at the start, when you’re making the transition to it. Learn how to manage yourself, your manager and your colleagues to make the transition smoother and more productive.
Listen to the episode here:
When setting up an Out Of Office workspace we suggest choosing a dedicated space, preferably a separate room (with a door). We explain the reasons for doing so in the book.
However, not everyone has the luxury of a spare room they can re-purpose as a home office. Fortunately, Kerrie Kelly comes to the rescue with some clever alternatives to a single-purpose home office:
- Hide it in a closet
- Hide it in plain sight
- Shelve it
- Consider the kitchen
- Utilize the utility room
You can read Kerrie’s home office suggestions in detail on the Workshifting blog.
Tell us about your Out Of Office workspace by leaving a comment below.
Most of the discussion about Out of Office work focusses on individuals and their teams. It’s rare that the Out of Office conversation encompasses the entire way of doing business, but there are reasons why that might be a conversation worth having.
Douglas Wendt, the CEO of consulting business Wendt Partners, did exactly that, transforming his business from a traditional style to a more Out of Office style. He says:
“We had to change how we did business and become more flexible in every way. In other words, embracing flexible work led us to become a better company. If we had stayed with a traditional work model, we would have stayed with a traditional business model — and neither would have been the right move. This is, in my experience, the true benefit of workshifting for the CEO: It allows you to create a more dynamic, responsive, market-focused company by attracting and supporting a more dynamic, responsive, market-focused workforce.”
This is an extract from a thoughtful article he wrote about the way he transformed the business – and why he thinks it’s essential now to at least consider it seriously.
Out of Office work helps both employees and their managers, but the benefits are not always obvious. In fact, some employers only see it as a perk for employees, and they are willing to do it to increase engagement, but believe it’s a cost to their organisation. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as the Dynamic Business article “How to make virtual work a win-win”, explains. The article lists a number of things to make this a win-win proposition:
- Effective team management. Can managers effectively manage their teams wherever they are?
- Formal guidelines. Does the company have formal guidelines in place to help managers/employees evaluate the selection process or is it offered on an ad hoc basis?
- High performance in a virtual world. Has the organisation assessed which roles/employees are able to deliver high performance in a virtual environment?
- Driving collaboration and innovation. How does our organisation drive collaboration and innovation and what tools do we have to encourage collaboration for those working virtually?
- Impact on retention. How could employee engagement and retention be impacted by a discontinuation of virtual work?
Telecommuting and other Out of Office work continue to grow in popularity (51% of employed Australians are telecommuters, according to ACMA), but there’s still some resistance in some organisations. We address some of the most common objections here.
Listen to the episode here:
While many studies show that Out Of Office workers are happier and more productive than their office-bound counterparts, it’s not all a bed of roses. One downside is that some Out Of Office workers feel they should take on additional work because of their more flexible work style. Crystal McCullough lists five ways Out Of Office workers can avoid this kind of problem:
- Have realistic expectations and plans
- Don’t feel guilty about taking time off
- Minimise distractions
- Don’t fire the nanny
- Avoid working out of hours
Read Crystal’s article in full on the Citrix GotoMeeting blog.
How do you manage your Out Of Office work-life balance? Let us know by leaving a comment.