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Monthly Archives:November 2012

Is a Remote Workforce Right for Your Business? Part 2: MAKE’s Internal Case Study

In my blog last month, I talked about how remote workers can be more productive than their counterparts. While I think it’s helpful to look at the range of tools and benefits of having remote workers, I also thought it would be beneficial to report on a real-world remote worker’s experience, right here at MAKE!

Desk of a remote workerHere at MAKE we have several, successful remote employees, and Elizabeth (Liz) Hesse is the most recent addition to our remote workforce. As a customer service representative to our clients and consultants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Liz is a vital part of our team. She is also located nearly 1,000 miles away from our offices in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. As a company, we were seeking a more regional footprint in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but wanted someone who understood MAKE’s culture and values. That’s when I thought of Liz.

The business’ perspective on remote workers

There were some very specific reasons why I knew Liz would be the perfect person for this new opportunity:

  • Understands our culture. Liz had been a valued member of the team in our headquarters for two years before I approached her about relocating to Dallas and working remotely. I knew Liz understood and valued MAKE’s approach because she lived it every day for two years, I was confident she could translate that experience to our clients and consultants in Dallas.
  • Values the contributions of her colleagues. Although working remotely can seem very solitary, Liz would be working hand-in-hand with other members of our team each day—just not face-to-face. It was important for Liz to understand the unique contributions of each member of our team, and also to understand how she could rely on them once she made her journey south.
  • Has the discipline to remain successful. I witnessed Liz’s success as a MAKE employee long before the decision to relocate. She managed her time well and accomplished the tasks that were on her plate. I was extremely confident that she had the discipline necessary to thrive in a remote environment.

The remote worker’s perspective

Understanding the decision from a business standpoint is important, but to take an honest look at our remote workforce situation, I reached out to Liz directly for some candid feedback on her transition to become a remote employee. Now that she’s in the second month of her remote transition, here are some of her early observations:

  • There are fewer distractions. No matter how efficient your business is run, an office environment is filled with distractions. Liz mentioned that she sometimes felt behind “all the time” (which surprised me, since her work had always been stellar!). Liz added that by working remotely, she can now more easily partition her time to get things done.
  • Sometimes misses the camaraderie of working in an office. Liz regularly chats with her MAKE coworkers on the phone and via emails, but sometimes misses the social aspect of working in an office (like going out to lunch or catching up around the coffee maker). However, she quickly realized that she could overcome this through regular lunches with consultants—also creating an opportunity to bring a critical part of our culture to our valued team members out in Dallas.
  • Likes how much the team communicates. I like that Liz brought this up, as it is my #1 tip to businesses that are considering adding a remote worker (or two…or more). Communicate, communicate, communicate. Liz mentioned how she appreciates being a part of our weekly Tuesday meetings. During these meetings, the entire MAKE office catches up on clients and other news. Liz doesn’t feel like she’s missing out, and we ensure that she, a valued member of our team, is up to date. We also share frequent emails throughout the day, and Liz sends an end-of-week report to her direct boss, along with regular phone calls to review and ensure there aren’t any problems or questions that need to be addressed.

I hope that this inside look from our perspective as the business, as well as Liz’s as the remote worker, helps you make the right decisions for your business and your workforce. Determine what is important to your organization before determining if and who would be a viable remote worker. Know the peaks and valleys remote workers can face, and make sure they have the support to overcome them.

Of course, every business and situation is unique—do you have a remote worker story of your own? I’d love to hear about what worked (and maybe what didn’t) for your company. Feel free to share them in the comments section below!