Decentralization of the workplace—getting work done from anywhere

Is it just me, or does it seem easier to get more focused work done away from the office? In an attempt to gather some anecdotal data, I asked a group of friends where they went to actually get work done. Few responded with “the office.” Citing unnecessary meetings, distracting coworkers, and everything in between, it’s no surprise their days were largely administrative, punctuated by short spurts of focused time. We all agreed that the hours remaining to dedicate toward meaningful work dwindle, and we’re left wondering, “where did the day go?”

The hours remaining to dedicate toward meaningful work dwindle, and we’re left wondering, ‘where did the day go?

A quick Internet search proved how widespread this phenomenon is. One of the most influential in this conversation is Jason Fried, who gave a TED Talk titled, “Why work doesn’t happen at work.” He notes that despite employers’ investments in real estate for offices and in tools to cultivate productivity, employees often opt to get work done someplace other than, well, work.

Knowing this, what are employers left to do? One solution is to adapt and allow employees to work remotely. This untethers employees, empowering them to work wherever they are the most productive—whether at home, a café or, as one of our employees does, from a cabin in the woods. We realize that this might be a big stretch for some organizations, and maybe the decentralization model isn’t a fit for all. However, if you want to consider this option, here are three factors to think about before making the shift:

1. Create robust IT infrastructure and protocols

Cybersecurity is essential when remote workers are tapping into home and public networks shared among many users. It is important to work with your IT department to gear up for remote work properly. At Projectline Services, we employ firewalls, antivirus software, vendor updates, and compliance policies around proper configuration. And because IT safeguards may fail, we take our cybersecurity training and awareness seriously so that our employees are the first line of defense at all times. As an extra bonus, so our employees do not bear the full burden of connection costs, we provide a monthly Internet subsidy.

2. Set standards and establish trust

People have an amazing ability to live up to expectations. Think workers will slack off, and they will. The reverse holds true as well. Jason Fried said it best: “If you view those who work under you as capable adults who will push themselves to excel even when you’re not breathing down their necks, they’ll delight you in return.” As an employer, be completely transparent about what your expectations are: performance goals, communication frequency, accessibility, etc. Once your expectations are clearly defined, let your employees run with them. See if they perform.

If you view those who work under you as capable adults who will push themselves to excel even when you’re not breathing down their necks, they’ll delight you in return. –Jason Fried

3. Give interesting and fulfilling work

It’s natural to think that under little supervision, remote employees may shirk responsibilities. However, if employers provide interesting and fulfilling work, then productivity shouldn’t be an issue. Employees engaged in their work are not the ones watching the clock or aiming to put in the least amount of effort. Rather, they are the ones delivering quality work, who are happier with their jobs, and according to studies, are even more profitable. Sounds great, right? For tips on how to keep employees engaged, see this recent article from Inc.com.

 We get it. Offering remote work isn’t right for every company. But for those who can successfully make it a reality, remote work becomes a smart business strategy with significant benefits for employee and employer alike. Offering remote? Let us know how your company is doing with the shift. Are there any tips you would like to share with the community? We would love to hear from you! Comment below or reach out to us @projectline on Twitter to keep the conversation going.