Working from home could be the solution we’ve all needed, but who’s going to convince our managers that we are actually working — in our comfy pants?
Let’s face it, if you’re an employee, this working from home thing is actually pretty great. Sure, we crack jokes about how our daily commute between the “office” and the fridge is making us all fat but, in all honesty, taking a meeting on your couch wearing those comfy pants with holes in them will always be more enjoyable than oozing through traffic in heels just so you can spend half the day looking busy. For those of us who can, the idea of working remotely is starting to feel like an arrangement that should continue permanently. At the very least we should have the option to continue if it’s what we want. Sadly it is not really up to us and at some point we have to ask what managers think of remote working. The answer, it would seem, is that our managers (well a lot of them) have trust issues and in many instances working from home is agitating them.
Earlier this year the Harvard Business Review published the findings of a short study they conducted into how managers felt about remote working. Starting in mid-April, they surveyed more than 1,200 people from 24 countries across a range of careers and one of the main results that popped up was that when managers cannot physically bother employees about what they are doing, they worry about whether they are doing anything at all. It is a sentiment backed up by a piece in Forbes magazine detailing how managers can make sure their employees are actually working. Interestingly, all of this flies in the face of multiple studies showing that employees are working longer hours and getting more work done. So why are employers getting increasingly antsy about a problem that may be overblown?
The answer may have something to do with the fact that enforcing a strict one hour lunch break policy, ensuring people get to work at 9am and presenting reports they didn’t write themselves as their own, are a large part of many managers’ roles. For many employees, being in the office was a daily dance with your boss in which you did what you could to appear productive while they walked around the office making sure everyone followed the rules. Remote working however is all about tasks and results. Get X done by Y’o clock. How and when you do that is no longer all that relevant so long as it gets done, and that is a worrying space for the manager who spent a lot of their day marching around.