We can tell you from our own experience and recent research.
We’ve had highly productive team members working remotely for many years. The level 4 lockdown wasn't a problem and in level 2 we really only met in the office once a week to be sociable.
We've also worked with many team leaders and managers who have staff working from home, their cars or in remote offices. We're expecting many more people to work from home now that they've tried it and become comfortable with Zoom and Skype.
A few years ago, AUT and the University of Melbourne published the results of a survey and interviews involving more than 1800 teleworking staff, their managers and HR people from 50 organisations.
Most teleworkers are 'hybrids' working remotely less than three days a week.
The results of the survey are encouraging. Managers were very satisfied with the productivity of their teleworkers. 'A large majority' of teleworkers didn't think it interefered with their coordination with colleagues.
'The key finding is that telework promotes improved productivity and satisfaction with work.'
Advice from the research
- Select the right people and trust them.
- Support them and recognise the value of teleworking.
- Provide the technology they need to be productive and communicate with you and their peers.
From our experience
The most valuable thing you can do is ensure that everyone gets together regularly. We fly team members in from other centres for get-togethers, as well as our frequent catch-up calls by phone. Email, phone calls and even video conferencing aren't enough in the medium-term.
When you all meet together, make time to talk about family, sports and weekends, as well as business. It’s an investment. The need to feel that we belong is one of the three universal motivators.
Prepare them for a new way of working. Tell them, then show them, that you don't care whether they are pegging the washing out in work time. You are more interested in what they achieve. If necessary, you could agree on a time that they must guarantee to be available for emails or landline calls.
Trust is essential. Micro-management destroys trust and motivation. We see micro-management as a sign of an anxious leader (though that's not the only cause). Let them run their own show as much as you can.
Won't they skive off? Not if you choose the right people. Agree firm, reasonable deadlines and always ensure that they feel they are part of the team.
Some people don't want to work remotely or should not be working out of a structured environment. Some can't work from home without the distractions of pre-schoolers or may not have a suitable space to set up a work computer. It's important to check.