Remote work is not a new trend, regardless of how COVID ushered in the new flavor of working from home. Consultants, IT-ers, and entrepreneurs have worked remotely from home for decades without drama or the threat of returning to an office.
Why then are corporations suddenly suggesting that now remote work has never worked, won’t work, and in fact, is negatively impacting productivity? One suggestion is relevance, one’s ability to regularly demonstrate and report one’s accomplishments, activities, and professional aspirations.
Employees who work remotely are often seen as stagnant, uninterested in climbing the ladder or taking on more responsibility in their current role. If true, is that really a bad thing? Let’s examine both sides of the issue.
First, employees who have no interest in pursuing upward mobility are key to an organization’s success. They’re dependable, experts, and only interested in expanding outward, growing their knowledge and expertise in their discipline of subject matter choice. This employee classification can be called up to solve problems, put out fires, and if necessary, engage in difficult topics with business leaders or customers because they have such a deep understanding of the process, machinery, or technology in question. These employees put executive leaders at ease because they know someone gets it and has it (chaos) under control.
Regardless of their location or workplace status, expert SMEs will always be a necessary and relevant workforce group. But if these employees are burdened by managerial tasks, too many volunteer (voluntold) assignments, they can lose their edge, their focus, and their desire to stay. So, if expert SMEs are a stable force of nature in the workforce, employers can expect to see that consistency delivered regardless of location, keeping both the employee and the product relevant.
On the flip side, employees who desire promotions, big bumps in compensation, or to fast-track their professional promotability often feel it’s necessary to be seen and see those charged with escorting them up the ladder. Face time is relevance. Being in the office demonstrates commitment and promotability. Remote workers do get promoted but often go to the back of the line and have a longer wait time; promotability is a tradeoff for a remote work option.
Why is it that remote work for one position is a moot point and one of contention for another? Culture. Many executives believe that corporate culture is degraded by work-at-home (including hybrid) frameworks. Corporation leaders want employees to be united under one mission statement, common core values, and one logo and culture. Without it, the employment relationship becomes transactional, an exchange of talent and performance for pay and benefits. But is that really a bad thing?
The point many employers are missing is employees have already tipped that scale in their favor. After decades of dedicated work ethic with minimal pay increases, workforce reductions (often several) and reduced benefits with higher costs, the workforce finally got its lightbulb moment: we’re all consultants. Independent work-for-hire (remember that right to hire and fire clause in your employment contract works both ways) talent who can choose to stay, go, or move around to get the best deal for themselves. Devout remote workers understand that the job, laptop, and login credentials may change, but where they go to work each day remains the steady constant in life: home.
Work-life balance: how’s that for relevance?
Go be @home as you work,