Many people hear “remote work” and envision someone slacking off at home. It’s enough to make some principals cringe: “If I can’t see them, how do I know they’re working?”
Others take a more progressive view. As long as the work gets done, what does it matter where you do it? Productivity doesn’t necessarily correlate with time spent at the office.
There’s no clear-cut answer to remote work. Some employees love it; others don’t. Some companies are ready for it; others aren’t. What’s not so debatable is that your agency needs to consider it.
It’s hard to find employees these days. Unemployment is low, and today’s generation of workers values time and flexibility over money and rigidity.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering remote work:
Figure out how you’re going to monitor productivity. Everybody needs to know what is expected and how success is measured. As long as you retain good metrics, you shouldn’t have to worry about being unable to see your employees. Judge their work according to a baseline, and when you start to see deviations, investigate.
Determine who can, and wants to, go remote. This is harder than it sounds. You don’t want to be suspected of playing favorites. Furthermore, some positions don’t translate well to remote—think of a front-desk receptionist.
Get feedback. Consider having your HR personnel send out a survey to all employees, asking who wants to try remote work once or twice a week. Responses inform next steps. Generally, account managers are the likeliest to go remote, but your survey might yield different insights. Develop some fitting criteria.
Make sure employees have what they need. Are their remote workspaces ergonomic? Can they use their own hardware, or do they need to borrow something from the office?
If you don’t want your employees to take work-related calls on their personal devices, you can bring in VoIP phones—basically extensions of their desk phones at work. Remote desktop services allow you to remote into your office computer, preserving the continuity of the interface and diminishing the spill of proprietary data.
Stay compliant. You’re responsible for your employees whether they’re remote or inside the office. Make sure their remote workspaces are safe and consistent with office rules and regulations. If necessary, lay down some new rules.
Whether you’re ready for remote work or not, don’t wait for your competitors to start poaching your staff. By then, your employees will be “remote” to you whether you like it or not.
Ken Wohl is head of marketing of Indio Technologies, software for independent agents that streamlines the application and renewal process between agents and their insureds. This article is based on “Remote Work: What to Weigh Before Going Through With It,” an episode of “The Digital Broker” podcast produced by Indio Technologies and hosted by industry veterans Steve Anderson and Ryan Deeds.