People and processes: why is it not suitable for every company?

    Along with the development of the Internet, remote work has rapidly entered our world. But as with any HYIP, it was a path of high expectations and disappointments. Against the backdrop of praise of the new format of interaction, news regularly emerges that another large company turned off an experiment on remote work, as efficiency, income, etc., are lost.
    What is the difference between companies that return employees to the office and those who report on the success of the remote format?

    Vasya Lozhkin. "We will return everything back!"

    Disclaimer: here we consider companies and positions where teleworking is technically possible. This opinion does not apply to areas where employees need to physically be next to each other (as well as a conventional industrial machine) or one cannot clearly distinguish areas of responsibility.

    Get everyone back!

    Every year, remote fans are apprehensively reading the news that a well-known company has decided to return employees to the office. Is this trend massive?

    To begin with, sometimes this information is not entirely true. If you skip the loud headlines and start to understand, it turns out that this is about a change in the conditions of teleworking, and not at all about the abolition of this practice. For example, the Best Buy retailer in 2013 canceled a program that gave employees the freedom to choose a job - an office or a home . Udalenka is also available, but in agreement with the higher authorities. However, Best Buy is mentioned now among those who “returned the employees to the office”.

    Collapsing remote commands really happens, but not as big as it may seem. In 2013, in the wake of a fall in user interest in their services, Yahoo !, in April 2014, Capterra and Bank of America, announced the return of employees to the office, and Honeywell International in 2016. In English-language news, Aetna was mentioned in the same context, but this insurance company still supports Udalenka. Perhaps it was a question of some specific experiment (in their reports, news agencies referred to studies by third-party analysts). There were, of course, other loud statements, but most of all the industry was impressed by the fact that IBM went to a similar step in 2017 - one of the pioneers of distant work in its modern format (and, by the way, a consultant on “tuning” remotely in business) .

    If we analyze all these examples, the return of employees from a remote location is just one of many steps aimed at transforming a business that loses in a tough battle to more dynamic competitors. Transients are a key point, which, by the way, even noted CEO HP Meg Whitman, explaining the company's new policy introduced in 2013 (an approximate translation of her quote : "If a business works correctly, people can work remotely for years. But when you are on a crossroads, they need to go back to the office ”).

    The reasons for this particular step are usually given a few points:

    • the complication of employee interaction, in particular the absence of “brainstorming”;
    • performance drop;
    • control complexity;
    • problems with sharing knowledge inside the team;
    • need for contact with the client.

    There are also more abstract statements about the decrease in business performance and various economic theories based on the idea of ​​agglomeration.

    Consequences of the return

    Typically, stories about the return of employees to the office end in positive numbers: reducing costs, increasing profits or strengthening the company's position in the market. However, remembering that this is not the only change in the framework of large-scale transformations, it is difficult to say whether it is decisive.

    Are the deeper consequences for the team analyzed?

    Returning to the office is a more serious step than it might seem at first glance. The team is not an IT system that can be “rolled back” to the last stable configuration, so the consequences of these changes will for a long time hinder the restoration of the working relationship of the sample “to the distance”.

    During the experiment, employees have new habits - approaches to work, ideas about the importance of personal space and a schedule that differs from a typical 8-hour office day. Some of them are no longer ready to return to the office, and in this case, the only alternative is dismissal.

    It is curious that initially many pilot projects for transferring employees to work from home, especially in large companies, began with the idea of ​​saving on office space. In absolute terms, this really frees up huge amounts (through the sale of buildings or the refusal of rent). However, with regard to the wage fund, this is not so much. Great results could be achieved simply by thinking about how to increase the payoff from the payroll with the existing format of work. Instead, the company went to the economy in a simple way. And when they failed to cope with the new format, they lost not only it. Return on payroll does not increase at all, if the most responsible employees who have taken root in the remote place submit a letter of resignation.

    But today we are not interested in the motivation of companies, but the question of whether there are prospects in the distance for others. Does a big business move back that remote work is a hopeless occupation?

    Spherical specialist in vacuum

    Before building a theory about remote work, let's define the terminology.
    Obviously, remote work is not the same as freelancing. Freelancer - he closes the full production cycle - from finding clients to knocking out a payment from a careless partner. And remote work is focusing only on your task when working within a team with the distribution of roles. We are talking about her.

    Freelance and remote work require slightly different competences from the employee. Freelance closer to a novice entrepreneur. I would like to say that remote work is somewhat closer to the office, but in practice it is not.

    In order for everything to happen on a remote, an employee must have a strict self-control, responsibility and other qualities of an adult independent person (we all know that not everyone is growing up in this context by the age of 80). With this set of software skills, it seems, a direct road to the business. Many do. And on the remote, only a certain layer of specialists is really well acclimatized - those who love their work, but are not ready to “sell themselves”. Those. potential market for cadres is smaller than it seems. There can be no talk of globalization, the destruction of cities and the new economic model, which were discussed at the peak of the HYIP. Udalenka is simply the choice of a more convenient work format for a certain part of the economically active population.

    It's funny that a person who is not immersed in the subject, creates a completely different impression. Regularly published are the results of surveys, according to which respondents choir in favor of a free schedule of visits and work from a cafe. Unfortunately, the authors of these reports do not say anything about the potential effectiveness of the employees interviewed by them (and the presence of at least some experience). Perhaps the main contingent is students who have not yet “smelled gunpowder” in a real job, or low-skilled employees who haven’t come to work on time for the last month and support the illusion that a free schedule would be a cure for them problems? Or maybe, on the contrary, the survey was conducted in such a way that only employees of quite successful remote companies who have no problems with motivation participated in it? In other words,

    Restrictions apply not only to personal qualities, but also to qualifications.
    Remote format really complicates the transfer of knowledge within the team. For training trainees, some special mechanisms are needed - internal training, control of material acquisition and achievement of goals, which means that the demand from distant companies is mainly for completed employees, the level of middle and senior.

    Such a specialist can be given a task and almost not controlled in the course of the approaches used, evaluating only the results of the work (we have already written an article about how we control the issue of control ).
    In fact, on the remote, sometimes take and junior. But such a specialist should be continuously monitored or given him the most typed task (often the desire to simplify his life dominates there), which means that all interaction processes should be built differently - not in the same way as with qualified personnel on the remote, and even more so. in the office. We within the company did not want to combine two such different approaches. In our case, the best result is cooperation with those who already have commercial experience (we also wrote about hiring this year ).

    By the way, qualification is also not a panacea. Remote format of work, especially when it is new, is a change in the life paradigm. Almost no one can find for themselves the correct schedule and balance of work and personal life from day one. And this is a direct road to burnout, after which the employee will find a job in the office and blame all the sins for the distance. Therefore, self-organization plays an important role here, as well as the ability of an employee to manage time and life priorities. For its part, the company should take care of the correlation of the employee’s own plans and personal goals. In her area of ​​responsibility and the creation of good working conditions - the formation of a strong team, the selection of an interesting project, in part even the arrangement of the workplace.

    Personal qualities, qualifications and planning of mutually beneficial cooperation are only three aspects of interaction with employees. In practice, much more. Therefore, attempts to “slightly twist” the familiar mechanisms from the office and do not lead to anything good. It is necessary to completely change the approach, trust employees more, learn to control differently, and not through the counting of occupied chairs or micromanagement.

    What comes first: work format or processes?

    What should be done in the first place: to remove employees from the office, and then build processes, or first think over the processes and hire employees for them?

    Most successful examples of remoteness that came to our eyes used the second approach when the company is built around the idea of ​​lack of office space. At the same time, the necessary processes are laid in the basis of the company. And since there is no set of practices “to do this way” in the world, processes are constantly adapted to the situation — they are first introduced de facto, tested, and only then they are approved de jure.

    Most of the bright unsuccessful examples of employees being returned to the office for one reason or another are examples of the first approach. In these scenarios, the employees initially hired to the office (hired without taking into account the qualities important for remote interaction!) Wereprescribed one or several days to work from home. If you think globally, the work processes have not changed - only the tools have changed, and from their list such an important element as the “stern bossial glance” has disappeared. As a result, some people have adapted and shows good results. Others were disappointed, since it was more difficult for them to work remotely, they were not ready for it. Remote work requires a result, its absence raises questions. In the office, this situation was perfectly camouflaged by the very fact of being in the workplace. Those. remote format is like a “litmus test” for efficiency. All hidden problems go out.

    Is it possible to avoid such a scenario with half measures, for example, output to a remote part of the work week? Our experience says no. In any case, the problem is in people and processes. And even if a certain selection is carried out within the collective, it is necessary to single out independent and “adults”, more processes are needed. Without drastic changes can not do.

    By the way, the head of such a group, regardless of its location, must understand the peculiarities of remote interaction. When he truly understands them, it really becomes irrelevant where he is physically located. Alas, there are far fewer understanding managers than suitable staff. And therein lies another reason for possible failure. A manager who is accustomed to an office format may biasedly evaluate the performance of remote colleagues, especially if there are examples of employees sitting in an office. But there are still those for whom the fact of being in the office is already an achievement.
    We all know how hard it is to find good leaders. But this question can be solved.

    The slope of enlightenment

    The technology maturity cycle, taken here

    Did you notice that in 2018 there was no high-profile news that employees were returning to the offices?

    Watching this market from the inside, we in “Maxilekt” believe that the format of distant work has already overcome not only the peak of HYIP, but also the lowest point of frustration and is now slowly gaining momentum somewhere on the side of enlightenment. Despite the loud statements of individual companies, the share of employers who are ready for such a format of work is only growing. And there are quite a few successful examples, including in our country. Most of those who are in sight are companies of a new type, which were originally built with the expectation of remote interaction.

    In conclusion, I would like to note that the remote format of work is just one of the options for flexible arrangements with an employee. This does not make it a step forward or backward. It's just that a company becomes more attractive for a certain type of people. They must also be able to work with them, for example, not to crush really qualified employees with total surveillance. However, if such an approach to business is not “gone”, you should not chase for HYIP. Its peak, including among candidates for vacancies, has already passed. We can offer other interaction options that meet the real needs of employees. Or you can disassemble successful examples of other companies - try to build a team from scratch, where business processes were originally built as in companies where the remote company earned. So it will be easier for business, and remote cooperation will not be discredited.

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