Remote Workers *Can Be* More Productive

This caught my eye because I’ve seen some situations where remote working is an utter joke:

Remote Workers Are Outperforming Office Workers — Here’s Why

The entire JibberJobber team works remote. We’ve been doing it since 2006. It’s really the only way we can do it because as far as I remember, none of us are very close (in proximity) to one another.

When I got my dream job in February I had to get a car and then commute 22 miles each way almost every day.  The commute was… not enjoyable. The only thing that made it okay was finding an awesome podcast… so now I was entertained and educated and inspired for about an hour each day (give or take). But, the amount of dangerous that I’ve seen on the highway is mind-blowing. Really, there are a significant amount of bad decisions made, and a lot of scary situations… every single day.

My preference was to save on the thousands of dollars of gas and wear-and-tear, and save my own mental stress by avoiding the traffic.

The article says the 3 reasons remote workers outperform office workers are productivity, teamwork, and presence.

I can see that.

However, I can also see a massive amount of abuse. I’ve seen remote workers who get paid but don’t really do anything. In my opinion, as a business owner, that is mismanagement on leadership’s side and dishonesty and even perhaps fraud on the worker’s side.

If you are a remote worker, or a job seeker (doing a job search from your home), let me offer two suggestions:

  1. Develop systems so that you are at least as productive as you would have been if you stayed in the office.  Maybe even schedule your work so that you are doing things that are best done alone…. quiet time for writing, analysis, studying, etc. Or, schedule remote meetings. If you have control over your deadlines and deliverables, schedule the best ones for your remote environment. Also, I have kids at home… I’ve had to establish boundaries for them to know that yes, indeed, I am working, and no, I can’t play with you right now. I’ve also had to establish boundaries for myself, such as not sitting in front of the TV with my laptop. As cool as that sounds, it is too distracting and really slows me down.
  2. Be accountable! When I started my job in February I was a little shell-shocked from my last corporate experience. One of the things that helped me feel in control was to send my boss a weekly update on my projects and initiatives. One of the problems in a creative or strategic role is that you could go weeks and months without much to show. These weekly emails were a great record for me, and for him, to know just what progress I was making, what I had finished, and what I was going to work on next.  When you work remotely I think this is more important than if you are at the office (although I suggest everyone consider doing it). Are you a job seeker? Keep a record, or notes, or a journal, or just put stuff into JibberJobber, and you’ll know that no, you haven’t wasted the last four months, even though it feels like you haven’t made any progress.

To the person who is stealing from their employer, not doing the work when they are supposed to be “working from home,” I don’t have any advice for you. I doubt you are the one reading my blog anyway. I think this happens more often than we think, and I’ll attribute that to a personal integrity + a management issue. Managing remote workers can indeed be tricky. If you are the manager, figure out how to do a better job managing remote workers.

What do you think? Are remote workers really that much more productive?  Or is it better to just brave the commute and go into work?