It was not that long ago (2016) that we were meeting with a Human Resource manager in a large public agency. They were contemplating the development of a work from home policy, but were reluctant over concerns related to ghost employment and management of staff. Fast forward 5 years -- we met with that same manager virtually…they were joining us from their dining room table.
The mindset of, “If I can’t see you working, you must not be working,” pervades management cultures of all sectors, but is prevalent in public agencies. This is historically driven by rigid policies and an attempt to avoid misconceptions about whether or not someone is actually working. This approach also enables a mindset among employees that “activity” is work and emphasizes being busy over producing outcomes.
Here's how embracing an outcomes-driven mindset can benefit productivity in a remote work environment.
According to The Economist less than 5% of US workers spent their time working from home before the pandemic. By spring of 2020 that number was 60% with at home workers reporting more happiness and productivity.
While remote work is not viable for all workers, the demand for hybrid work environments will likely continue beyond the pandemic. This environment requires a shift in the management mindset. In short, challenge your managers to focus on results. Getting work done well that produces desired outcomes is more important than making sure employees work 40 hours in a week. Trusting and experiencing success with this mindset means employees have a clear understanding of organizational success, how their work contributes to organizational success, and managers have confidence in the value of delivering results instead of hours.