The Remote Workforce and the Law of Diminishing Returns
As trendy as it may be to transform your team into a free-moving, distributed workforce, this is not always the most productive or profitable option for a firm. Working with accounting firms across the country, here are several situations in which a remote workforce is no better – or perhaps worse – than a normal workforce.
Offices originated for a reason. Some people’s homes may be havens of peace and concentration, but for many, the home is a noisy, busy environment with just as many (if not more) distractions than the workplace. Children, animals, partners and housework will inevitably cut into work time, no matter how many boundaries you set.
- Loneliness and a lack of creativity
Not everyone is suited to working remotely full-time. Indeed, we’d argue that most people aren’t. Sitting on your laptop in your pyjamas all day creates two problems: firstly, an overwhelming sense of loneliness that a group Skype meeting will never fully satisfy, and secondly, none of those water-cooler brainstorming sessions.
The further apart your team are, the more their focus will shift to their personal lives and not to the team they’re working with. And innovation rarely comes from sitting on a couch working in solitude. It comes from face-to-face interaction and discussion, when you least expect it.
The remote workforce revolution widely criticised offices as creativity-killers. Yet the counter-revolutionary argument that is slowly returning to the industry is that having a shared space is vital for bouncing ideas around and keeping up energy levels throughout the day.
The initial appeal of the remote workforce was the novelty of not working from an office. Yet for most people, this means simply working from home, which, once the excitement wears off, is really no different to working in an office.
The key to productivity is variation – so try allowing employees one or two days per week to work from out of the office, and no more. Just the act of getting dressed for work as opposed to not moving from the kitchen table can function as mental preparation for the day ahead.
At the end of the day, there’s no harm in trying out new ways of working. Just be sure to measure results and stop or continue the changes accordingly.