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5 reasons why remote work will save your organization

I’ve been a full-time remote worker since December 2005. I’m the Maryland Association of CPAs’ chief communication officer, and for nearly 12 years, I’ve performed that role from my family’s home in St. Louis, Mo. It’s been the best move I’ve ever made — I’m more productive than I’ve ever been, and I’m on hand for my family in ways I never could have imagined earlier.

So when I see corporate giants like IBM and Yahoo banning remote work, my first question is, “Why?”

Why, indeed? A recent global study found that employees value the ability to work remotely as one of the most important factors they consider when choosing an employer. Studies also show that, given the right fit, remote workers can be significantly more productive than their office-bound colleagues.

Given that, why would any organization decide to ban remote work?

The short answer is this: Their culture won’t support it.

They understand the productivity gains and recruitment advantages. When push comes to shove, though, it’s a matter of control. They want to see their people. They need to micromanage their output. They lack trust.

In short, it’s a matter of culture. If it’s not in your organization’s DNA, remote work is toast, no matter how much lip service you give it.

“Characteristics of a good remote environment and office culture will expose the flaws that are present in your existing culture,” said Barrett Young, founder of the advisory firm The Green Abacus and a former member of the Maryland Association of CPAs’ Board of Directors.

Put another way, if you want to offer your team a remote strategy that works, you must first have a corporate culture that supports that type of environment. Culture drives growth in every corner of our organizations.

You want to be a company that supports remote work? Make sure remote work fits within your corporate culture. If there’s a disconnect between the two, you’re doomed to fail.

That’s the long-winded way of getting to my five rules of remote work:

  1. Your employees want it. They crave it, in fact.
  2. Studies have shown it makes them more productive.
  3. Resisting it is like resisting social media, or the cloud, or automation. It’s futile. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not.
  4. Not offering it is killing you and making your competitors stronger. You’re consigning yourself to the trash heap in the war for talent.
  5. Sure, some people aren’t suited for remote work, and some managers aren’t suited to manage remote workers. Most often, though, your struggles with implementing remote work are questions of culture, not personality.

Cut the cord, then manage effectively. Everyone will win in the end.

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