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What is the impact of trust on remote workers?

I want to talk about remote work a bit more.

Ryan Morris, one of the co-hosts with me on Killing IT, forwarded an article from the Harvard Business Review focused on Remote Managers – and their trust issues.   40% of the supervisors interviewed express low self-confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely.       Thirty eight percent agreed remote workers perform worse than those in an office, and 41% doubt the ability to keep up motivation remotely.   

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting on National Bureau of Economic Research data, showing the workday has lengthened by an average 48.5 minutes, and the number of meetings has increased by 13 percent with the move to remote work.   The time in those meetings did fall by about 20 minutes a day, and the average meeting duration scheduled is shorter.  

Why do we care?

A substantial number of managers doubt they can lead remotely, have pessimistic views of the practice, and distrust workers.    At the same time, days are getting longer for workers and they go to more meetings.      So, let’s not pat ourselves on the back too much on how well this whole work from home thing is going, because this is not sustainable.

The Harvard piece does address some guidance, including 5 points of recommendation, though it’s important to focus on a key point here.  Micromanagement is never the best way to get good results from employees.

Management in all forms is a skill that needs to be invested in, and do not assume that throwing everyone into home offices with the right tools means it’s all working.    I’ve commented on the child care issue before – now lets link that to bad management.  From the study, “For those workers reporting low levels of monitoring, 26% reported their work demands interfered with home and family life. But for those reporting high levels of monitoring, more than half 56% had high interference between work and home/family demands.“

So bad management makes the situation even worse.    Remember, the number one reason people leave a job… is their boss.   

The opportunity here is business consulting around using technology to make this work for effective management.     This is the difference between a successful implementation and just using technology.   

Oh, and don’t forget your own organization.  You need to fix this internally.

We’ll be picking this topic up on the Killing IT episode for Tuesday, August 11th.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Source: Washington Post