How to curb your trust issues with remote working!

A recent Microsoft survey involving 20000 people recently concluded that 87% of employees say they are more productive remotely but 85% of leaders said that hybrid work makers it difficult to determine if workers are being productive!

So why a couple of years on are there still trust issues from Managers?

Most of our work at Lightbulb focuses on practical ways of getting performance from people at work, and when I talk to Managers it's clear that two things are at play:

Firstly, I can't SEE my individual at home so how do I know when they have 'ran out of work' and have the capacity to do more? A valid point when we anecdotally read about people who now apparently have two or three remote jobs with different employers because each one can be done in less time than the contract suggests!

Secondly, I can't measure the output very well - all very easy when someone has a sales target, for example - but what about other 'less tangible' roles?

So, here's a two- point plan for you:

  1. Each role needs measurable results - not just working through stuff and activities off a 'to do 'list. But RESULTS are not so easily defined - which of these meet the definition of a good result?:
  • Run ten workshops
  • Produce documentation
  • Put together and present an action plan
  • Implement a new system
  • Update content on the website

The answer - none of them, even though you may have thought one or two do. What if I did these five tasks above horrendously and badly! You wouldn't call that a good result would you? Results we expect are those 'can't be guaranteed' things that then get us a "well-done" when they happen. Hitting sales target is the most obvious example of this. Rolling out a process that 80% of people then use is another. Completing a task with no amendments/corrections needed by others is another. The more you can define expectations in the 'can't be guaranteed' format then the more likelihood that the individual is going to have to spend longer or really think about the right activities so that the result is achieved.

2. This feels a bit old-fashioned but how many hours is needed to do this job in real-life? If you look at the emails your direct report receives in a typical week and the time taken to respond/handle, add up the various meetings, add up the hours spent on the routine activities, add up the project work hours, throw in a few hours for unforeseen crises and hey presto you get to a rough idea of how long this job actually takes! You may be surprised - it may not be full-time!

I always then encourage asking for a bit more (for when they have downtime) - Specifically, think 80/20: what few things take us a lot of time in this job and what can we spend time doing to reduce this pain; what few things give us an amazing payback/dividend when we just get a chance to do them? How about spending a bit more time on whatever these things are.

Productivity feels to us about people putting the hours in and us clearly getting a good return from this in terms of outcome/results. "I don't care how long they spend doing the job as long as IT gets done" is all very well - but only when 'IT' is so tangible and obvious in terms of value that the time spent getting to it is less important.