As you may or may not know, CGL is a fully distributed law firm. We always have been – even before the pandemic. We have learned that while having a distributed workforce definitely comes with challenges, there are also incredible benefits. Remote, distributed and other flexible workplace policies tend to increase:
- Employee retention,
- Creativity and innovation,
- Productivity, and
- Access to diverse talent.
So, why is it that business leaders and business owners are forcing employees back to the office? Well, the amazing team over at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance suggest that the opposition of flexible workplace arrangements largely stems from the fear of loss of the 5 Cs:
Tip 1: Overcome your fear of loss of control.
There are many reasons that business executives and managers may fear that they’ll lose control over their employees if they work offsite. But managers who tend towards micromanagement are likely to feel this fear in their gut. Overcoming this fear takes a combination of trust from managers and tools that make work visible.
To build trust, managers need to make an effort to educate themselves about the benefits of remote and flexible work. They would also be well served in making a conscious effort to ‘see’ the effort of employees. Using workplace tools like Asana, Monday, or Trello can help ensure that work is visible. Managers can easily assign tasks to workers whether they’re in the office or at home. These workboards make it clear when tasks are due, what the expectations are, and who is accountable. This allows businesses to control what matters – results – instead of focusing on things that destroy employee morale, like the timing of bathroom breaks or social conversations.
Tip 2: Overcome your fear of loss of culture.
It is true, running a remote workforce does make it more difficult to develop and maintain culture. But that difficulty isn’t the employee’s fault – and, at least to us, it doesn’t make sense to penalize them because it’s ‘hard’.
To overcome this hurdle, businesses need to work out what matters within their culture, then work out how to promote that culture in a virtual or hybrid environment.
At CGL, humanity is one of our corporate values and is key to our workplace culture. We try to infuse humanity into all that we do, so we regularly take time to connect as humans – in our emails and in meetings.
It might look a little different at your company, depending on what your priorities are:
Is it wellness? Run virtual fitness classes.
Is it friendly competition? Organize regular ‘pub quiz’ events.
Whatever it is, we’re sure there’s something you can do to promote that culture in a hybrid or remote workplace.
Tip 3: Overcome your fear of loss of collaboration.
Having flexible workplace arrangements or even a fully distributed workforce, only means that you need to be more thoughtful about collaboration. It doesn’t have to impact the frequency or impact of that collaboration. All the tools you need to collaborate online are readily available. You can chat face to face, create virtual whiteboards, brainstorm together, send instant messages, or pick up a cell phone and chat through an issue. These tools encourage collaboration, while also streamlining the process of note taking and distributing the ideas.
Tip 4: Overcome your fear of loss of contribution.
Some managers and executives may fear that employees won’t work if they can’t see them working. My co-founder and I have been quite critical of employers who want to run ‘adult daycare centers’ on our LinkedIn profiles, so our stance on this won’t be surprising if you follow us there. But, basically, if you think your workers won’t work without your oversight, there’s a bigger problem.
Strong workplace practices ensure that ‘flexible’ workplace arrangements don’t equate to ad hoc, haphazard, or improvised workplace arrangements. Flexibility can be built in without sacrificing the quality or the quantity of work. Managers need to ensure that workplace policies firmly set expectations and that guidelines for promotion standards and bonuses contemplate remote work.
Tip 5: Overcome your fear of loss of connection.
Again, there are so many tools that foster connection and so many things your business can do to facilitate networking and connections in a digital space. Get a virtual water cooler conversation starter, hold coffee hours, host a virtual wine tasting event, or do any combination of the above.
In terms of encouraging networking amongst business leaders and new employees, you can develop mentorship opportunities that partner workers at different stages of their careers.
Finally, you might consider holding offsite events on a quarterly basis or to celebrate milestones.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Let us know how you’re overcoming these misconceptions by commenting on the social media post sharing this content or emailing us at email@example.com
If you have any topics you’d like us to cover, tell us. We’re here to help!
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