Well hello ladies! How was your Father’s Day weekend? Check out my Facebook post here to hear about mine! (Spoiler alert: totally get it if Father’s Day isn’t the biggest celebration in your life!)
This week I’m totally intrigued by the layers of complexity around remote working. I finished reading (well really listening) to the 4-Hour Workweek last week, mostly because it kept coming up over and over again as I listen to and read from my favorite leaders. I have to say… it was interesting. 🤔 Tim Ferriss is obviously a bad-ass, but sometimes a bit rough and too black and white for my taste – however, there was still plenty to glean from the book as an entrepreneur. Anywho, he has a whole chapter of his book on how to “disappear” from your physical job if you are working a traditional 9-5 job – and that was pretty interesting, so I wanted to chat that out with y’all.
My Boss Lady Perspective
So personally, I am a solopreneur and I also work a full-time (somewhat) traditional 9-5 as a Director in the nonprofit field. I absolutely LOVE my job, but through the years have realized that many of the things I do can be done remotely, oftentimes better than they can be done being chained to the office. And it seems like quite a few studies agree.
While geeking out over several articles this weekend, one being “The Rise of Women Who Work Remotely: Flexibility is the Future” posted on BeHere, I found a Harvard Business Review study that shared flexibility was a close second to health benefits for American workers. Also, Leadership IQ’s study found that folks who work from home are 87% more likely to “love” their job than those working in a traditional office. What’s more, is that remote working opportunities have shown success is helping to close the gender gap in wages and leadership when applied – read more on that here and here.
So is remote work for you?
Okay – remote work is awesome, but it does have its cons as well. The first thing you need to think about is if you have the internal motivation and drive to self-manage at home. Remote work is attractive to employers because it is known to increase productivity and engagement, but their biggest fear is that their team is just sitting at home goofing off. 😴 Don’t make that fear a reality, you ruin the opportunity for yourself and for the rest of us!
If you don’t think you can work from home without being distracted, then look into a co-working space (like this awesome one in my hometown) or work from a coffee shop with wifi and headphones.
Secondly, really think about how much you can handle the workplace isolation. This is the biggest complaint of remote workers! They feel isolated and miss the socializing that comes with a physical office. Again, there are ways around this like a coworking space or a public place to work as well. Also, maybe you realize you just want to work 1-2 days at home during the week but still want to be in the office a few days a week to get that social interaction.
Lastly, is it realistic for the kind of work you do? For me, working in the nonprofit space with a lot of administrative work to do, YES this is totally doable for at least a couple of days per week (or more). However, my husband is a Firefighter and that is NEVER going to work for his job obviously. Be realistic about the physical need for your position and negotiate appropriately with your employer.
Okay, how do I get my manager to buy off on this?
This was the really interesting part that I loved in Tim Ferriss’ book, he had a great script and process for phasing yourself out of the workplace. I’m not going to re-create it obviously (recommend you read or listen to the book if you can), but he makes some great main points:
Before you even think about asking for a remote work option, you should be KICKING ASS in your current position. If you aren’t work on that first and get some months of stellar work under your belt.
This is a process! Start with a small ask – once per week or so – to get you and your manager’s feet wet. Always let them know this is a “trial” and they can revoke the privilege anytime.
Make sure you WAY overproduce on your remote days during that trial period, and then take those quantifiable results back to your manager after a month or so to ask for more days.
Always focus on the benefits for the employer – don’t come at your boss with an entitled attitude that they owe this to you otherwise you’re going to walk (you might be upset with the outcome of that ultimatum).
Another option is to negotiate this during your employment offer phase before you even start work (this was my route at my current workplace). That way it’s upfront and if you are wanted and have the leverage, don’t miss the opportunity to use it. Also, you could bring this up during your annual review period as an added benefit (maybe in place of a higher monetary raise if your boss is a stickler).
However you go about it, realize that it will not happen if you don’t ask! Most employers have not gotten to this place yet, but if you educate them (hey, you could even share these articles!), and focus on their benefits you could get them to a new frame of mind. You need to be consistent with your requests, prove their fears wrong, and actually PRODUCE when you get the opportunity to work remotely.
Managers & Employers – Ya, we’re nervous too!
As great leaders, we know that happiness and satisfaction is a huge factor in the engagement and effectiveness of our teams, so this is something that we need to take a look at even if it makes us nervous. (If that wasn’t a given to you, take a look at my freebie “The 12 Resounding Yes’s You Need to Attract & Retain Top Talent” by signing up for my email list to the right.)
So let’s take a look at those nerves – why as managers and employers are we scared to allow remote working options? The answer is: CONTROL. As much as we don’t want to admit it, most of us in management and leadership can be “control freaks” (🙋🏻♀️ it’s okay, I’ve admitted I can be one too). However, it’s been shown time and time again that more autonomy for your team = increased productivity and engagement = better results = easier (and happier, and more profitable) life for you. So let’s do this! Here are my tips on managing with autonomy as a foundation:
- Be results-focused not time-focused
It is much more important for your team to be crushing goals than for you to worry about if they were at their desk at 8am sharp or not.
- Utilize technology to your advantage
Ever used Asana or Trello? These kinds of free tools are incredibly helpful for remote teams (or even teams in the same office!) Turn on the calendar functions, set your clear expectations, assign tasks and deadlines, and watch the magic happen.
- Your job is to LEAD – not hover and spy
Leaders don’t have to watch over their teams’ shoulders because trust is built, but they also do not disappear on their team. They are coaches who work with each team member’s strengths to maximize their effectiveness and happiness on the job. I highly recommend meeting in person, via Skype (or Zoom or WebEx), or just through phone (but never JUST email), at least once per week for about half an hour to calibrate with each of your team members 1-on-1. Kevin Cruze changed my life as a leader and a manager for the better through 1-on-1’s – but more on that another time.
Also, take a few minutes to check out the following articles to really understand your benefits as an employer. Not only will you save money, but you’ll increase productivity, and help to avoid gender wage and leadership gaps.
- The End of the Traditional Manager – Gallup Business Journal
- How Working Remotely is Helping Women Close the Gender Gap in Tech – Forbes
- 3 Reasons Remote Work Can Help Women Reach the C-Suite – Inc.
- The Pros & Cons of Remote Work: Advice from 12 Remote Work Experts – Idea Rocket
So What Now?
Do your research, take a tough look at yourself and your work styles (as an employer or an employee), and take the jump! You can always go back if things don’t work out the way you hoped. But if you don’t try you could miss out on happiness, workplace satisfaction, increased productivity and engagement, higher retention rates, and becoming a more competitive employer for attracting top talent!
In the comments below, share your plan of action for trying out remote working OR if you already have a remote work option, tell us how it’s working for you! What are we missing and what should we know before we make the leap?
If you’re really forward – forward (pun intended) this post to your boss!
Talk soon! 👋🏻