Is working from home more productive – August 2020

Changing Tides – August 2020

Is working from home more productive?

There are certainly a lot of articles these days that claim working from home is more productive. And many employees agree. After all, there are fewer interruptions and last-minute requests from their boss. Plus, they spend zero time commuting and a lot less time getting dressed up for meetings. They see a whole lot more of their family and many at-home employees report that they are more productive working from home. There is some research to back up that productivity claim.

One study says that remote employees spend 1.4 more days working each month. According to Gallup, remote workers log significantly longer hours than their office-bound counterparts. Plus, work-at-home parents’ children are getting a lot more attention now that schools are closed. So, who is complaining? Who does not want to make working from home permanent?

Well, some at-home workers (29%) complain that working from home lacks that work/life balance they have been trying to achieve. It is hard to draw the line between work and personal life when a computer resides on the kitchen table. Some unhappy campers say they miss the comradery and socialization that takes place in a healthy work environment.

Anyone else? The bosses who make those last-minute requests may be feeling a loss of agility, less productive and are getting tired of those Zoom, Zoom, Zoom meetings all day long. And while the boss may have loved it when they were the only ones working from home, it is a little different now that everyone is working from home. The boss exerts less control and therefore has no opportunity to exercise “MBWA” which Tom Peters discovered was a best practice embraced by the leaders of the world’s most successful companies when he published his best-seller In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies.

You see, for those of you unfamiliar with the business classic, “Manage by Walking Around” is one of the most effective management techniques of all time. Right alongside the “One Minute Manager.” Heck, Henry Ford probably invented it. Steve Jobs certainly perfected it. Peters noticed that managers who embraced MBWA were far more aware of the operations, knew the employees personally and in general, had a far better ability to solve problems faster. This up-close-and-personal style of management not only allowed managers to better understand various issues and concerns, but the entire company benefited from an environment that embraced participation and celebrated innovation.

Innovation is a creative idea that becomes a reality. It takes a lot of work. A lot of talent. Different kinds of talent. And the discipline to pull it off. It takes agility to zig the zags and right wrongs along the path to victory. And it takes leadership that keeps everyone pointed in the right direction to achieve true invention. Invention is the creation of something that has never been made before and is recognized as the product of some unique insight. But what if innovation is not so important to a company?

According to the WSJ, some companies are already losing patience with the work-from-home experience. At the start of the pandemic, employees at many U.S. companies went home and got a lot of work done to protect their job. Five months later, however, that “fear-driven productivity” has leveled off. Many firms find that hiring, integrating, and training new employees is challenging. Junior employees typically learn by observing and asking more experienced colleagues. This is much harder to do remotely.

In a recent HBR study, about 40 percent of the supervisors and managers expressed low confidence in their own ability to manage workers remotely without regular “line of sight.” Many workers, too, are sensing that managers are questioning their productivity and doubting their skills. Such mistrust leads to micromanagement, which then leads to a drop in employee motivation.

The work from home experiment is not entirely new. Companies large and small have been trying for decades to make working from home work. A decade ago, IBM had 40 percent of its 386,000 employees around the world sent home to work — a plan that companies like Facebook are putting into effect now. They saved $2 billion a year in office space. Then in 2017, IBM called many of them back to the office. Aetna, Best Buy, Bank of America, Yahoo, AT&T, and Reddit all tried working remotely, and like IBM have had similar results — Creativity, innovation, and positive corporate culture all suffer.

So where is it all going? A hybrid model of work-from-home and in-office workers is here for the foreseeable future. Some employees will choose to return to the office as schools reopen and social distancing becomes less critical. HR will play a major role in recruiting remote talent based on skills and cost rather than proximity. Onboarding, training, and formalization of procedures will become increasingly important. As for innovation and corporate culture, it may be a good time to invest in technology because new methods of bringing people virtually together for collaboration and fraternization will certainly emerge.

Client Spotlight: Advantage Systems

Advantage Systems

Young Company's collaboration with Advantage Systems began in 2014 with the creation of the AMB website. AMB® is an extremely robust mortgage accounting system that goes beyond the debits and credits to track transactions on a loan by loan basis. At the push of a button, AMB can present which loans comprise an account balance, any balance, and at any time. 

Young Company is excited to announce the launch of the high-performance ApprovalSoft website. ApprovalSoft® is a comprehensive, user-defined approach that allows companies to easily manage any kind of approvable event. It is an easy to use system that lets the user define any number of documents or transactions to approve. So, whether it’s vendor invoices, journal entries, cash receipts, or even engineering changes, ApprovalSoft allows you to control your world.

Employee Spotlight: Lori Robinson

Lori Robinson

As media planner and buyer, Lori handles broadcast, print, and online media for a variety of clients. As a negotiator, she is very effective in obtaining the best rates and value-added merchandising for our clients. She has extensive experience in the fields of automotive, construction, education, environmental, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail markets. A strong work ethic, flexibility and quest for learning allows her to stay abreast of the latest trends in media. In addition, she brings with her over 20 years of experience in accounting, administration and human resources. As a local Laguna Beach resident, Lori enjoys the beach and the nature of the canyon. Her other hobbies include reading, collecting history, archeology and esoteric books, and watching old classic and silent films.