Many companies are reluctant to allow remote work, and those feelings are exacerbated every time a failed telecommuting program makes the news. Worries range from fear of the unfamiliar to the lack of built-in structure in work-at-home arrangements. Here are a few of the top reasons companies resist offering remote work, and some ideas to help you change their minds.
Lack of Collaboration
The office environment is the perfect place for instant collaboration. Conversations at the water cooler and casual lunch meetings give birth to new ideas. If you have a problem or need a fresh perspective, someone is available to help. Communication is as easy as calling out to your office mate or taking a short walk down the hall. Companies worry that these opportunities are lost during remote work. Although texting is easy and there are a variety of videoconferencing options, those solutions don't offer the nearly instantaneous feedback that occurs at a physical work site.
If you're looking for a remote work situation, it might be difficult to directly counter this argument. Instead of trying to minimize its importance, focus on the advantages of remote work. On average, telecommuters are more productive than on-site workers. Instantaneous communication leads to a lot of distraction that is avoided when you work from home.
Companies worry that remote workers lack accountability and might go off on tangents. Remote work also provides few opportunities for spontaneous training and quick assignment changes. These are particularly strong weaknesses when a telecommuting program includes new employees. On-the-spot training helps new hires progress faster, and managers often switch assignments up when an employee is first learning a job.
Bringing up your success in past remote work experiences is a great way to counter this argument. If you do not have this type of experience, try offering compromise suggestions. Perhaps you could work at the office for a few weeks for training. Another option is spending one day a week at a company site, or if you live farther away, a few weeks each year.
Changing Business Practices
One of the biggest reasons companies are reluctant to offer remote work situations is a general fear of change. This is especially true if the company's experience with off-site communication has gone poorly. Experience with a tech failure during a teleconference or a single instance of a collaboration app being down at a critical time can be enough to turn an entire administration against remote work. If the company's vision doesn't include a foundation for telecommuting, they might think it simply isn't an option.
Combat a vague fear by pointing out that remote work saves the company money. Give examples of successful remote work situations, and share information about reliable tech solutions that work. Show the company your vision for how telecommuting could look, and be specific about the details. The company might decide to move in a different direction, but sharing your vision is a starting point for talking more about the possibility.
Companies have many reasons to be resistant to the idea of remote workers, including fear of change and worries about communication problems, but a well-formulated argument could get a company to change its position. When proposing a remote work plan, be prepared to share ideas on overcoming difficulties and fulfilling your obligations.
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