By Dan Ridge, Contributing Consultant, Q4B
I was thinking about the whole idea of working remotely after reading Q4B’s Rookie Recruiter’s Blog of last week, A Remote Recruiter in a Virtual Company and how far this way of working has come.
Years ago I was asked to do some consulting for a local staffing firm whose founder I had hired years before at the search firm I was managing. He learned the business, had some success with us and then went out and formed his own search business. He was way ahead of his time, always looking to add more value to the relationships that he and his staff developed both on the client company side and the candidate side.
At the time, 20 years ago, he asked me to conduct a survey using his client database, to get a sense of how companies and specifically hiring managers felt about workers telecommuting, or working remotely.
His purpose in conducting this survey was two fold. One, he was gathering information that might become useful in presenting hiring options to his clients; and two, he was doing something very different than any of his competitors, he was acting more as a consultant than as a recruiter, exhibiting more interest in what the hiring managers opinions were regarding their work environment and types of workers hired, than in just asking for the job order.
As I said, he was way ahead of his time. And the results of the survey were interesting. Of the 250 some odd hiring managers that I surveyed, the vast majority (over 90%) felt that even though there was emerging technology that would allow remote workers to access and share company databases, files and programs, there was a matter of TRUST. Some of the comments and questions were: “How do I know that they are really working? If he is here in the office then I know that he is working. Sometime I call meetings during the day and I need her to be here. The job requires handling sensitive information; I don’t want it to go out of the office. I don’t know who she is talking to. At least when she is here I can pass by her desk and overhear her conversations.”
And there were so many more, but you get the picture, 20 years ago the concern was TRUST or lack thereof.
Now fast forward 20 years, and the perception of the hiring manager regarding remote workers has changed dramatically.
In a recent article by Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, the following question was asked:
“Who is more engaged and more committed to their work and rates their leaders the highest?”
A. People who work in the office
B. People who work remotely
Edinger’s company used this question as part of a 360 degree survey for their client. If you answered “A” to the question you would be wrong. The vast majority answered “B” and here are some of the reasons that Edinger discovered.
• Proximity breeds complacency – Just because you work in the same space as your boss or your employees doesn’t mean that you are engaging with them on a regular basis – the possibility of communicating is so easy that it is often taken for granted.
• Absence makes people try harder to connect –As a leader managing remote employees you go out of your way to connect with them as often as the work or job requires. As a remote worker you go out of your way to make sure that you are heard even though you may not always be seen.
• Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools – The use of video conferencing, IM, email, Google + Hangouts, SKYPE and other forms of communication are not just a requirement for staying connected but a requirement for becoming a true leader. Put it on your resume.
• Leaders of virtual teams maximize the time spent together – Maybe it is because some services like Webex or GoTo Meeting have set time requirements for meetings, leaders and remote employees are more conscious of time spent together and tend to accomplish more in the same amount of time than office counterparts. Time is valued, fewer if any distractions are tolerated, more is accomplished.
These are just some of the reasons why many companies are currently allowing for remote workers and why those not doing so should consider it.
Yes there are jobs that cannot be done by a remote worker; jobs that require face to face customer engagement, manufacturing jobs, transportation jobs, many healthcare jobs, the list goes on. But if the job does not require the physical presence of the worker day in and day out in an office setting then having remote workers makes a great deal of business sense.
So, as a business leader, hiring manager what would you prefer workers who are HEP or not HEP?
That is Happy, Engaged and Productive!
I know what we at Q4B would want, HEP! HEP! HEP!