It’s time to trust remote workers

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Option to work from home should become standard

Before lockdown many businesses with staff that could have occasionally worked from home would have never entertained the idea. Chief among the reasons to keep people in the office from nine to five was the belief that, left to their own devices, office workers cannot be trusted to get out of bed let alone hit their deadlines. So far, lockdown is proving precisely the opposite to be the case.

Often at great personal cost, those able to work from home are still meeting their targets, while homeschooling their kids and carrying out the weekly shop for vulnerable relatives. The argument that remote working should only ever be something exceptional has, now and forever, fallen apart.

At Amiqus, we believe trusting our people contributes to everyone’s happiness as well as the productivity and resilience of our business. Our employees were already able to decide when they worked from home before lockdown and now that flexible working policy is helping us to maintain business continuity during the pandemic. At the beginning of lockdown we were able to transition the 50 percent of our team who didn’t already work from home to remote working within 24 hours.

Of course, there are challenges to remote working. It requires a lot of planning and coordination. Everyone has to get to know their colleagues’ schedules and ensure they don’t make assumptions about the time someone else will have available.

The role of a manager is not to police remote workers, but to make sure colleagues know that it’s okay to step away from the screen, to have a coffee call with colleagues, or to stop altogether and enjoy the good weather.

Rather than insisting everyone head back to their cubicles when the pandemic is over, managers should be planning how to incorporate some degree of genuine remote working flexibility into their company culture from now on. Sure, this will benefit only a certain, perhaps already quite privileged, group of workers within the economy at first, but improving working conditions sets precedents that can be used to everyone’s benefit in the future, even if we can’t all work from home.

It’s my opinion that flexible working arrangements, which may have only recently seemed radical, will soon become normal in the same way it took time for the weekend to be accepted as standard in the last century.

Employers are going to see a shift towards the four day week; more people working from a dedicated office in their homes, as well as greater use of unpaid parental leave and a higher demand for career breaks or sabbaticals.

Being chained to a desk has never made anyone happy, nor has feeling like someone is looking over your shoulder because you haven’t sent an email in three hours. Now that we’ve all experienced how much work really can get done remotely, managers should embrace a shift in office culture that measures colleagues not by when they’re available, but by what they contribute.

Richie Stewart is Head of People at Amiqus, an award-winning tech for good company that provides online ID verification to the public and private sector.

We’re always keen to speak to talented people and have a number of live roles across Customer Success, DevOps, Engineering, Product Design, Sales and Security. Click here to get in touch with Richie.