A Cost-Effective Way To Gain a Competitive Advantage for the Enterprise
Businesses are always looking for a way to gain a competitive advantage. When it can be done at a huge savings in cost — and increase in employee morale — it is a real winner.
One way that many businesses today are gaining a strong competitive advantage is by being open to remote workers.
In the past many employers felt they needed to “keep an eye on those people.” This view is exemplified with employers who want to make sure that people are at their desks, working hard during company time. Punching a clock was a big part of this mentality and regimen. As long as someone was at their desk and appeared to be working, the boss would relax.
The problem with that approach is that what is measured is an activity, not customer-oriented results. Yes, someone can be at their desk for the specified time but not get as much done. In fact, when a great part of work is dependent upon being creative, being at the desk can be an impediment to that.
What Business Needs Today
Today, in a world of “insanely great” products (think Apple), or the always-connected Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube tools, creativity and connection are critical. In addition to that, real work often gets done through collaboration. Successful collaboration is measured by results achieved, not mere activity. Work gets done through effective collaboration.
Peter Drucker told us about the concept of knowledge workers back in the 1950′s. Today’s successful business needs not only knowledge workers but creative innovators who come up with dazzling products and services to delight customers and keep them loyal. Somehow having a galley of workers chained to their desks doesn’t necessarily create delighted customers.
Competitive Advantage Today
By embracing the concept of the remote worker, businesses can get a serious competitive advantage. First, there is the cost savings of less office space needed. And if this is coupled with encouraging people to use their own technology tools and access what is needed “in the cloud” work can be managed better, training time decreases, support costs drop and other benefits emerge. A strong benefit is a happier workforce who realize they are responsible for productivity and results.
Today there is fierce competition among tech companies to find and keep the best and brightest brains. Often the smartest and most innovate workers want and need that ability to operate remotely — at least some of the time. Being open to remote workers can reflect in serious bottom-line benefits.
This doesn’t mean that employees live completely away from everyone all the time. Usually the best results come from flexibility that allows workers to operate remotely some of the time. Other times they travel to the office for company and department meetings, employee collaboration, office socializing and other activities from time to time.
Tools like Skype provide the ability to not only talk with others (we’ve had this since telephones were invented!) but to see each other through the value of video, screen sharing and on-going text chats about projects. Much of what was done only at the office can now be done through video collaboration. More work gets done, workers are more productive and the cost-savings can make even the most frugal accountants smile!
How to Measure Success
I can hear some old-school bosses saying, “Yes, that sounds nice, Terry, but if they are on company time, I want to know what they are doing.”
Really? Does it matter what they are doing at any given time as long as they are meeting the results and goals you have established? Do you really care how much time it took to develop that great software which saves you time and gets more done? Do you really care how long it took to build that new car you really like? Most people are interested in the quality of the final product and the value they get from it at the right price. Well, if that is what customers are interested in and it is why they buy, that is where successful businesses focus their efforts.
Success is measured by mutually-agreed upon goals and objectives. Think deliverables within a given time frame. How those deliverables come about is up to the creativity of the worker. A remote workplace provides flexibility to meet real-world demands from life. Think about emergencies that come up for all of us. Think about lifestyle choices and work/family balance. Supporting remote workers facilitates this for employees and allows them to act like adults!
No, this is not a laissez-faire approach. Being serious about results and time frames for development is critical. Occasionally employers will need to remind employees that a given task needs to be completed by a given time and date or that employee might want to find success with another employer. Being “hard on results and easy on people” has been a good management principle for a long time. Treating people like adults with both freedoms and responsibilities makes a lot of sense when working with creative, innovative employees.
Successful companies measure success by achievement of specific results within a specific timeframe — not by time spent sitting at a desk.
Living Workplace = Bottom Line Benefits and Competitive Advantage
Being more open to remote workers provides a competitive advantage in a world where brainpower matters more than ever. It is a proven cost-saving approach to business. It is a powerful way to attract and retain the best employees.
Being open to remote workers can be the secret sauce to propel your company forward to the next level.