In 2021, more than 42% of the US labor force worked from home full time. In less than two years, working from home has gone from a fringe concept to the norm. At the peak of COVID, 69% of employees were doing their jobs remotely. The most common industries to incorporate remote work are professional, scientific, and technical services, IT, and finance/insurance. Trusting WFH workers needs to become normal.
The majority of employees say they want to continue working from home post-COVID. Their reasons are myriad: 87% say they have the materials they need to do their work from home, 80% say they still meet their project deadlines on time, and 64% feel motivated to do their work. Allowing remote work increases job satisfaction, lowers turnover rates, and reduces traffic congestion. Remote work also allows employees to save between $2,000 and $7,000 in commute related costs.
On the employers’ side, remote work also presents a variety of benefits. Overhead costs drop dramatically when businesses let their employees work from home. Across the nation, companies saved an estimated $700 billion in the span of a single year. Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Benefits remain high, but more than 41% of employers doubt the work ethic of their remote employees. As a result of the work from home revolution, 85% of employers doubt their leadership pipelines and 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees not working in the office.
Who Can We Trust?
Because of these growing pains, some managers are resorting to micromanaging to regain a sense of control. One in five employees believe micromanagement is the most stressful aspect of working from home. It negatively impacts work, pushes employees to consider changing jobs, and depresses morale. On the employer side, micromanagement leads to declines in productivity, higher turnover rate, and more money spent on replacing employees.
What are some simple ways to build trust with remote employees? Managers could do more to communicate their expectations up front. They should also encourage employees to be transparent about their needs while at work. Such transparency goes beyond words; it involves creating a culture of openness and understanding. Managers should also focus on productivity metrics rather than hourly ones. Different people work at different rates, and focusing on outputs leads to more positive engagement. Finally, artificial intelligence can make some managerial tasks easier on both ends. AI today can be used to prepare timesheets, export to payroll apps, plan out work schedules, manage online leave, and provide workforce management on the go. Four in five employees today believe that these uses of AI enhance their job performance.
Remote work is going to occupy a permanent place in our labor force. Rather than resisting the change, managers need to learn how to listen to their team across spatial distances. In the end, this new workplace organization strategy has the potential to benefit everyone. Change can be difficult to adjust to, but recent events have forced everyone to learn resilience. For the benefit of workers everywhere, micromanagement needs to face extensive mitigation.
Learn more about trusting WFH workers in the infographic below.