When working remotely works, and when it doesn’t

We don’t have a policy about where, when, or how people should work. This flexibility is pretty easy to manage with only a half dozen folks, and it takes great effort to scale. We’re now at 18 full time people, with about half working remotely most or all of the time.

In my experience thus far, making the return greater than the investment requires a focus on hiring the right sort of folks, onboarding them in a way that makes them a fully-engaged part of the team, and fostering a culture that supports both remote and on-site employees.

When remote working breaks down, I believe it’s a product of bad hiring decisions, missteps in the onboarding process, an unsupportive culture, or a combination of all three.

When considering whether or not to restrict employees’ freedom to work in the manner and location they choose, managers and leaders must make a decision about where to invest their time: Do they wish to invest in policy and oversight or in culture and empowerment? Both require a great deal of effort, carry their own risks, and produce different sorts of rewards. Neither is right for everyone. In my experience, the empowered work environment requires considerably more effort, and is considerably more rewarding.

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