“Can I work from home today?”

Does that question make your stomach twist into knots? If it does, you’re not alone. Working remotely is within the realm of possibility for all companies, but many businesses are hesitant to adopt it for several different reasons. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ll share some of the pros and cons we’ve wrestled with and how we choose to handle working remotely at CCB Technology.

PRO: Working remotely can reduce stress by limiting distractions that stop you from getting work done like…

  • THE MUGGING – A knock on your office door then, “Hey! Do you have a second?” Forty-five minutes later that person walks away leaving you with more tasks to do from that impromptu conversation – not to mention you have no idea what you were working on before they popped in. You just got mugged!
  • THE THROW-UP – No knock on the door – “I need to talk to you now! Did you know blah, blah, blah happened? Did you know it is going to blah, blah, blah for me? I can’t handle blah, blah, blah.” The situation did not have anything to do with you, but the person wanted to throw up, and you were the lucky person it landed on.

We are all familiar with unexpected interruptions that can last from a few minutes to sometimes hours, but it can be especially challenging for managers. Working remotely beats locking yourself in a closet to try and get something done!

One other significant advantage is the ability to employ people from anywhere, which can be a benefit for attracting prospective employees in a competitive market.

CON: Working remotely can create slower decision making and relational isolation like…

  • THE EMAIL OVERLOAD – “Jim is working remotely today, but I need a decision on ‘X.’ I’ll start a group email…” Email is great for creating threads of discussions that make it convenient for documenting conversations. However, after hundreds of emails in one thread, you can start to wonder how you will ever get a decision made. This process is further complicated by those who jump in and respond mid-thread… HELP!
  • THE MISSING COFFEE POT – Walking through the breakroom always reminds me of the importance of personal interaction. “How are the kids?” “Did you see the game on Monday night?” “Hey, wanna buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?” (I’ll take 12 boxes of thin mints please!) Missing those off-the-cuff conversations around the coffee pot or even missing out on face-to-face meetings has an impact on our ability to build cohesive teams. Strong connections are often made in those personal moments and have a big impact on business.

Working remotely may not be a good idea if you have someone that is easily distracted or needs direct supervision to stay on task. Successfully working off-site can mean having to manage distractions like great weather, TV, or family.

Finding Middle Ground: Working remotely can be a huge benefit to work/life balance like…

  • THE CABLE GUY – “Our technician will be there sometime between 8 and 5,” seriously?! We’ve all been there! At our company we allow our staff to work from home in these types of situations. Someone must be there while the job gets done, so why not stay productive by working remotely? This is a win-win situation – we remain productive, and the employee gets the added perk of not using a PTO day, which can lead to positive morale.
  • THE STOMACH GURGLE – Something you ate? Start of the flu? We all know what it’s like to have an upset stomach and it just feels better to stay in your pajamas near your own “throne” or to be there for your kids when they are sick. The rule here is you need to be functional. We see this as an opportunity to maintain productivity and show that we care.
  • THE POLAR VORTEX – Do we open the office? Is it safe to travel? We’ve had our share of bad weather this year, and I hate making these calls when the decision isn’t clear! We’ve already chosen once this winter to close the office and have everyone work remotely. It was a great decision – instead of losing money it was a very productive day, and everyone was safe!

Should you allow your employees to work remotely?

At CCB Technology, we experience greater benefit to everyone by working together in the office, from enhanced communication to building a winning culture. However, we also realize that working remotely allows employees to catch up and maintain balance in their lives, so we try to be fair.

Working remotely can benefit both your business and your employees, but for me, it all comes down to TRUST. CCB has the right business tools in place, including Microsoft Office 365 and our VOIP and VPN solutions, which allow employees to remote in securely and access everything they need, while also providing their managers with the accountability required from a business standpoint. This is important because it helps build and maintain trust which in turn keeps us productive and accountable – no matter where we’re working.

So, what’s my final decision on working remotely? I don’t have one! What I do know is that flexibility, accountability, and trust are essential ingredients and that the “right” answer needs to benefit everyone involved. What works today, may change tomorrow. Ultimately, as new generations continue to enter the workforce, being adaptable is key.

Written by Patrick Booth, CEO, CCB Technology.

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