Should You Work Remote?

Prior to the CoronaVirus crisis, this was a question that was asked frequently in small businesses across this country. There has been a strong movement in the past decade of more and more workers in companies of all sizes working remotely from home. This trend has been driven by several factors including convenience, cost reduction, and better employee performance.

There have been a number of studies indicating that, on average, many employees are happier and more productive working from home. As a result, many companies (big and small) have allowed significant percentages of their employees to work from home either full-time or part-time.

But is working remote good for everyone?

Last week I had a phone conversation with the one expert I could count on to answer this question for me. Chuck Russell is the founder and Chief Knowledge Officer for the BestWorkData (BWD) company.  For years, Chuck and his team have used online surveys to help managers make better decisions on hiring, training, and managing their employees. Personally, I have used the BWD surveys for over 10 years with my clients.

In our phone conversation, Chuck shared with me that their research indicates about one-third of the working population enjoys working remotely and perform better from home. Another third of this same working population struggles with being employed at home. They are not happy working from home, and they are less productive.

As a small business leader, how do you know where your employees fall within this research? In most cases, the simplest answer is that we don’t know, possibly until it’s too late. Employee performance declines. Their engagement drops as well. They become disgruntled. Then they leave us. Or worse…they stay.

Is there a way to know beforehand if a particular employee should be working remotely? I believe there are several ways:

  • First, determine if the employee has worked remotely before and if so, how did it work out?
  • Second, institute a trial period. A test. Many of us are currently experimenting with remote work with mixed results.
  • Third, utilize a survey. Chuck and his team developed an assessment based on an individual’s strengths that suggest to what degree that person can adjust to working remotely. The survey is free and can be found at BestWorkData.com

I recently took the online survey and it suggests that I will be okay working remotely for a while. I will also miss interactions with others and I am easily distracted.

What about you?

The key takeaway from my call with Chuck is that remote work isn’t for everyone. It is important for a small business owner with remote employees to understand their individual needs and unique abilities to work away from the office. While the immediate health need for remote work may fade away over the next 3-6 months, I believe the business case for remote work will continue to grow for years to come.