Offering your employees the option to work remotely should be standard practice rather than a perk, and is the key to implementing the practice successfully.
This is the message a workplace psychology expert will give the APS College of Organisational Psychologists Conference in Sydney today.
Workplace psychologist George Mylonas MAPS says that in the right circumstances remote work, or telecommuting – which is performed by about one-quarter of Australian workers – offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
Mr Mylonas will speak at the conference about remote work and the findings from his literature review of telecommuting, spanning the 1980s to present day.
He says working remotely can improve productivity.
“The most significant benefit for employers is that remote work improves productivity because there are fewer distractions and employees are better able to concentrate. Plus, employees have enhanced autonomy and control over their work environment, including how they dress, lighting, temperature and background noise, which enhances job satisfaction,” he says.
“For employees, remote work provides more time to balance work and family responsibilities. What’s more, since remote workers are not subjected to direct face-to-face supervision, they experience increased feelings of freedom.”
The benefits of remote work are especially relevant given that all senior executive jobs in the NSW public service will be open to employees choosing flexible working arrangements by 2019. In addition, major infrastructure works in Sydney and Melbourne will increase traffic congestion and commuting times.
Mr Mylonas says remote work has been touted as a major organisational shift for many years but hasn’t obtained expected traction in the public and private sectors because many employers are concerned about decreased productivity – despite evidence to the contrary.
“Employers worry they will lose control over remote workers and be unable to supervise them, provide constructive feedback and deliver performance appraisals,” he says.
Shifting organisational focus from face-time to results and developing a pro-remote work culture is crucial, Mr Mylonas adds. “Concentrate on managing objectives and set specific performance targets, timeframes and communication guidelines so remote workers know what’s expected. There shouldn’t be any difference between managing remote workers and non-remote workers.”