Overcoming Resistance to Remote Work – The Productivity Fear

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. – Paul J. Meyer

Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Although remote work is becoming threaded deeper into our cultural fabric, naysayers and the fearful remain in abundant opposition to the revolution taking place in the American workplace. Unfortunately, many employers still hold a mental image of ‘Remote Work’ as a scruffy, pajama clad employee lazily shuffling between the coffee pot, the TV remote control, and the washer and dryer, nothing could be further from the truth.  Let’s now turn our attention to the most common objection to remote work.

Number One Objection – The Perception and Fear that Productivity will decrease

This is simply not true for correctly constructed and implemented ‘Remote Work’ programs. For example, according to a Cisco Systems survey completed in 2009 of employees who are actively telecommuting, the findings speak for themselves;

  • Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remote, and 75 percent of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved.
  • By telecommuting, 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site.
  • 67 percent of survey respondents said their overall work quality improved when telecommuting.
  • An improved quality of life through telecommuting was cited by 80 percent of survey respondents.
  • Telecommuting can also lead to a higher employee retention rate, as more than 91 percent of respondents say telecommuting is somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction.

I believe there are three reasons for the productivity increase;

  1. Employees perceive their work output is more carefully monitored when they are working remotely and thus error on the side of caution and over compensate their increase in productivity. (that which is measured, improves)
  2. Employees unburdened by the trials and tribulations of commuting are more refreshed and rested.
  3. Employees can maximize work during their most productive hours and rest or manage non-work tasks during their least productive hours.  (as a society we must move on from the notion that 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday is the evolutionary or pre-ordained peak productive work time for all working people everywhere)

Employees who diligently and productively produce high quality work at a high level of effectiveness in an office will produce even better work at an even higher rate of productivity once unshackled from crushing commutes and office distractions, and allowed to work at their peak productive times. Employees who produce poor work output or volume in the office, or even worse, waste their and other employees valuable time at the office dilly dallying and socializing all day should be reformed or fired! 

Remote Work is simply a lever that will magnify current work habits and output.

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