Workplace psychologist George Mylonas MAPS, says that in the right circumstances, remote work – or telecommuting, which is performed by about one-quarter of Australian workers – offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
Offering remote work as standard practice rather than a perk or privilege is the key to successful implementation of the practice, a workplace psychology expert will tell the 2017 APS College of Organisational Psychologists Conference, to be held in Sydney, 13-15 July.
Mr Mylonas will speak about remote work and findings from his literature review of telecommuting, spanning the 1980s to current day, at the Conference.
“The most significant benefit for employers is that remote work improves productivity because there are fewer distractions and employees are better able to concentrate. Plus, employees have enhanced autonomy and control over their work environment, including how they dress, lighting, temperature and background noise, which enhances job satisfaction,” he says.
“For employees, remote work provides more time to balance work and family responsibilities. What’s more, since remote workers are not subjected to direct face-to-face supervision, they experience increased feelings of freedom.”
The benefits of remote work are especially relevant given that all senior executive jobs in the NSW public service will be open to employees choosing flexible working arrangements by 2019. Plus, major infrastructure works in Sydney and Melbourne will increase traffic congestion and commuting times.
Mylonas says remote work has been touted as a major organisational shift for many years but hasn’t obtained expected traction in the public and private sectors because many employers are concerned about decreased productivity – despite evidence to the contrary.
“Employers worry they will lose control over remote workers and be unable to supervise them, provide constructive feedback and deliver performance appraisals,” he says.
Shifting organisational focus from face time to results and developing a pro-remote work culture is crucial, Mylonas says. “Concentrate on managing objectives and set specific performance targets, timeframes and communication guidelines so remote workers know what’s expected.
“Employers should assist managers to change their perception of remote work by outlining the benefits and providing information on how it is a strategic business tool, standard operating procedure and legitimate way to conduct work rather than an employee perk or exception. There shouldn’t be any difference between managing remote workers and non-remote workers.”