Benefits of Working Remotely/Virtually

There seems to be this on-going idea that remote or virtual workers don’t work as hard or effectively as those who come into the office. Additionally, there is this common thought that these types of workers don’t receive any perks of working for a company because they are no longer physically there. Some may even believe that these types of jobs are illegitimate or a scam. Others could think that these individuals would be miserable because they don’t see/interact with anyone. In some cases, this might be very true. However, I would like to put this common belief to rest. After working in a virtual environment and speaking to others who have worked remotely for years, I have learned that there are many benefits to this type of role.

If your company has found a way to implement this role effectively, you may find that working virtually/remotely has both personal and professional benefits:

  • Increased communication: Working outside of the office means that you must rely heavily on communication. Also, your communication must not be taken advantage of. Because these roles rely heavily on using communication successfully, it has allowed an increase in effective collaboration. Additionally, employees felt that they built stronger relationships and teams because of this reliance on communication.
  • Increase in productivity and accountability: A lot of worker’s complain that they are not engaged because they do not feel responsible or accountable for anything. They also feel as if though they are not empowered to do their best. If you are working in a role like this, you have to be self-driven, organized, good with time management, and accountable. Your success and failures occur due to what you produce. Individuals in this role have found work to be more meaningful.
  • You are relocatable: Sometimes, things change in life. Perhaps you are a nomad that wants to explore other areas. Maybe a significant other is in the military or needs to transfer for a company. Perhaps you need to move to help a loved one during sickness or a hard time. Or maybe you want to try someplace new that has a better living situation. Reasons are endless and many times people can feel unfulfilled or stressed if they feel that they have no options to do these things. Working remotely can allow you to easily relocate for whatever reason without having to quit a job or search for a new one in the new area.
  • It can help your job search: Some areas just really don’t have a good job market and your job hunt may be unsuccessful. Maybe the area you live in doesn’t even have companies that support the type of industry you are targeting. Remote/virtual work can allow you to gain employment for the job function or industry you desire, with a company that is out of the area. Companies that offer this option can expand their job offerings to people that are struggling to find work in their current location.
  • Can cut costs and time: You can save a ton of money working home if you don’t need to spend it on transportation and gas. You can also cut down time spent on commuting and allow yourself to have a little extra time to either work harder, handle personal affairs, or even just relax. Who wouldn’t want to save money and give a few moments back to themselves?
  • Always be there:  This is a great option for parents or pet owners. Sometimes parents/pet owners do not have the means to pay for babysitters, boarding, walkers, or daycare. Additionally, some parents/owners don’t want to use these options because they want their children or pet to know them while growing up. This option can allow you to be home and be there for when your children grow up or when your pets need you.

Of course, there can be chances where people take advantage of working from home, which is why this stereotype is out there. Surprisingly though, many people who are self-driven can be even more productive and dedicated to work than those who come into the office each day. It’s really all about finding candidates that are results driven because they’ll be the producers that are successful in any environment (inside or outside of the office). If you are a company, consider these options. You can cut overhead costs and expand your workforce to areas that have talent you wouldn’t be able to find in your immediate area. If you are a job seeker, be sure to consider this option because there are many benefits, such as the ones mentioned above.

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What Gen Y Wants from an Employer

Today’s topic will be about Gen Y and the workplace. I felt that this subject was important to bring up mainly because Gen Y will dominate majority of the workforce by 2025. With that being said, employers need to focus in on the characteristics of Gen Y and develop a plan to attract and retain talent. I also particularly like this topic because I am a Gen Yer and majority of my peers are Gen Yers in the workforce. Needless to say, I am surrounded by discussions regarding this generation and what they want from an employer. Here are some facts, in no particular order:

Gen Y values company culture: I’m sure if you’ve read any of my previous blog postings you can see how much I stress the importance of company culture. I’ve been placed in all kinds of work environments over the last few years, so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing good, bad, or non-existent cultures. My work ethic was affected by these environments. If I loved a company and was proud to work there, it would be evident. My performance would definitely show it and I would not hesitate to broadcast everywhere that my employer was better than your employer (:-P).

I didn’t really realize the importance of company culture until I worked at CreateSpace (an Amazon.com company). They seemed to really know how to celebrate individualism, embrace diversity, and encourage people to be openly innovative. The managers I had were great in the sense that they knew that everyone was different and, therefore, had to be managed differently in order to get the best results. I distinctly remember my Team Lead asking me, “How do you like to receive feedback?” I think my mouth hung open as I processed the fact that my supervisor actually cared enough to find the best way to manage me effectively. The leaders there also celebrated people for a job well done and knew how to make the workers feel like their contributions mattered.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, Benefitfocus seems to hone in on the fact that culture is valued by this generation. They were passionate enough about it that they actually published a book on the subject. I’ll be receiving that soon, so there look out for future posts regarding it!

Gen Y strives to grow professionally and wants feedback: This generation relies heavy on feedback and mentoring. It’s not because they’re needy and require praise all of the time, but simply because they want to know what they do well and what they can improve on. They want to work hard, grow, and move forward in the working world. They’ll value an employer that gives them suggestions and opportunities to do so. Some of the better employers recognize this and make an effort to give regular feedback, discuss career paths, and present opportunities for employees to gain experience. For example, Apple and Google have classes so employees can continually learn and increase their knowledge. It was nice to see an employer invest so much in their employees’ educations.

Also, feedback is important for reasons other than helping employees grow. I distinctly remember a friend telling me that her company is big on the “no news is good news” philosophy. I was actually appalled by that. How could a company only give negative feedback? Needless to say, the employees of that company were extremely uneasy because they never knew if they were doing things right. Anxiety caused productivity to waver, employees to be less invested/committed in the company, and turn-over. Those who left the company told me that they’d rather be with a company that didn’t keep them in the dark than stick with a company that may unexpectedly fire them for mysterious reasons.

Feedback can help an employee see a future with the company. If no one shows them that a future is there, they’ll move on to greener pastures.

Gen Y wants workplace options: We are a technically savvy bunch which means we hope our employer can find other workplace options for us than just the typical 9-to-5-sit-at-a-desk-workplace. Although having a routine is nice, it can sometimes kill creativity, innovation, and feel like a cage. Technology and portable devices make it easy for employees to be mobile and stay connected. We hope that employers realize this so it allows more freedom: flexible work schedules; work-from-home; flexible workspaces around the workplace; and results-only-work-environments are some options that come to mind.

Although some employers are reluctant to do this for fear that employees will take advantage of these alternative work options, I think they will be pleasantly surprised to find out that Gen Y wants more responsibility. They want to be accountable for their work/contributions to the company. Additionally, they want recognition for their work. So instead of making your company feel like “Big Brother is watching”, consider other ways to measure productivity besides a punch clock. Perhaps adopt a work option that focuses more on end results.

Gen Y wants an employer that has integrity and makes a social impact: We just want you to be like our favorite superheroes. You know; the ones that do things for the greater good. Nothing is more of a turn-off than seeing a company go all “Machiavellian” and only do things that help their personal gain. If your company does good for others, your employees will feel good about working for you. I mean, who wouldn’t be proud to work for a company that somehow makes the world a better place?

Your company will seem trustworthy, which is a big thing that attracts talent. For example, candidates decided to take job offers with Salesforce.com because the company was involved in donating to a foundation and encouraged employees to volunteer and participate in community service. Who would have thought that you can attract candidates because of your social impact strategy?

It’s time to start training your leadership to change some of their practices. There are companies out there that will help you re-structure and develop your leadership efforts to help cater to the changes in the workforce. I’ve actually had the pleasure of networking with Martina Mangelsdorf via LinkedIn over the last few months. Over a course of a few e-mails and Skype conversations, I was able to learn that her company did just that. I was delighted to see that there are people out there that really understood what Gen Y needs out of an employer. So, employers, it is in your best interest to get prepared because Gen Y is coming for you!

Links to read (I apologize that my hyperlinking function isn’t working!):

Martina Mangelsdorf LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/martina-mangelsdorf/1/611/740

Leadership training for Gen Y: http://www.gaia-insights.com/

What Gen Y Wants- Time: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640395,00.html?goback=%2Egmp_4358820

Harnessing the Power of the Loyalty Generation: http://socialmediatoday.com/davidjohnson4/563490/gen-y-harnessing-power-loyalty-generation?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Social+Media+Today+%28all+posts%29&goback=%2Egmp_4358820%2Egde_4358820_member_127717648

Benefitfocus: Winning with Culture book: http://www.benefitfocus.com/culture/

Google Classes: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-11-amazing-classes-that-google-employees-can-take-2012-3?op=1

Apple University: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/06/apple_university_revealed_as_plan_to_teach_executives_to_think_like_steve_jobs.html

Companies mentioned:
http://www.createspace.com
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.apple.com
http://www.benefitfocus.com
http://www.google.com
http://www.salesforce.com