The End of the Ban on Telecommuting

Despite the increasing popularity of remote working, some businesses remain unconvinced of its merits. Unfortunately, examples of remote working having a detrimental effect are well documented, such as the case of Yahoo!. This prompts the question; how can large corporations make remote working successful?

Under the direction of Marissa Meyer, the new Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, there was an initiative to bring all remote employees together in one physical location. This plan was met with resistance from some staff, despite Meyer’s insistence that it was the best course of action and her refusal to reconsider it during her time as CEO. Nevertheless, there was dissent from certain employees.

As this was occurring, an ever-increasing amount of research began to demonstrate the potential advantages of remote working. Teleworkers have been found to have a greater sense of well-being, improved health and increased productivity. Businesses can benefit from cost savings, the possibility of a more diverse workforce, and access to talent from around the globe. It appears that remote working is one of the few scenarios in business where everyone can be a winner.

It was a shock to many when The Bank of New York Mellon, the world’s largest custodian bank, announced that it would be bringing its remote working staff back to the office for the same reasons as Yahoo!.

Evaluating Performance from Afar

After careful consideration, the bank chose the office as the most suitable environment in which to increase productivity. In order to facilitate better teamwork and decision-making, the bank implemented a new system to support this initiative.

Within hours of its distribution, the press had access to Yahoo’s call-in notice, despite a request for it to remain private. This lack of restraint was mirrored by the personnel and customers of New York Mellon, with East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, MSP Jo Swinson taking to Twitter to express her thoughts on the matter: “I feel like sending a fax to BNY Mellon to remind them it’s 2023… or maybe a carrier pigeon?”.

One employee expressed her concern that she would be “forced to retire” due to her inability to work from home, as she is a working mother. Those who were contractually entitled to work remotely swiftly took legal action in response to this. Meanwhile, those who were able to attend the workplace in person reported that all available seats were occupied.

It is therefore unsurprising that New York Mellon recently released a statement indicating their intention to assess their telecommuting policies. This page has been created to provide people with useful information in case they come across it.

Working Together in a Remote Team

It is often assumed that successful teamwork requires physical proximity, but this is not necessarily the case. We should not discount the fact that productive meetings can be held remotely, where “blue sky” thinking and “out of the box” solutions can be discussed and implemented. This goes to demonstrate that productive teamwork can be achieved without the need for physical proximity.

It became apparent that we had not achieved anything of note in the meeting we had just attended. There were no moments of clarity or meaningful insights that had been generated. We became aware that we had wasted valuable time and left in a disgruntled manner.

It is often the case that some individuals find it difficult to generate their most creative ideas in the midst of a meeting, and equally, those same individuals may find that their most innovative thoughts come to them outside of the meeting context. For example, they may have a ‘eureka’ moment while they are travelling back to the office, or during the journey home. It is important to bear in mind that not everyone is able to think outside of the box in a pressured environment.

It is now widely recognized that it is no longer necessary to meet in person in order to work together effectively. The emergence of the internet has provided us with a range of sophisticated tools that allow us to collaborate remotely and in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Rapid Determination Making

Initially, in our research and literature review, we have not come across any evidence which suggests that having employees in the same physical space accelerates the decision-making process. On the contrary, one potential advantage of a remote working arrangement is that asynchronous decision making can be implemented.

It can be concluded that the time spent deliberating does not need to be restricted to the traditional 9 to 5 working day. Despite the fact that members of the team may be situated in different time zones, work can still progress. It stands to reason that if more people are working on a problem for a larger proportion of each day, it is highly likely that a solution will be identified eventually.

The solution seems to consist of four phases if we look at what the experts have to say about enhancing decision making.

Establish a Mutual Understanding of Duties and Responsibilities

Starting a project with a global team can be daunting. However, it is important to ensure that each team member has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This is especially true for those working remotely, who may not always have the opportunity to communicate with the rest of the team in real time. Having a well-defined job description for each team member will help them to understand their own individual tasks and obligations, even when their colleagues are not available to provide guidance.

Given the need for efficient and effective software development, we recommend following the Agile Software Development Process. By having virtual daily stand-up meetings, all involved parties can remain updated on progress and discuss the tasks they have been working on. When everyone understands their roles and why they are important, the decision-making process is simplified.

Data Sharing

Making informed decisions relies on having access to reliable, up-to-date information. Therefore, it would seem counterintuitive to use a PowerPoint presentation or printed materials as the primary source of data for an internal company meeting.

Gaining access to the data that you require is effortless, no matter if you are analyzing sales statistics, a customer relationship management system, or Basecamp. There is a great selection of remote communication tools that enable you to have a video call, send documents, or share your screen so that all parties have the same understanding.

Applying a Model

The renowned consultants at McKinsey & Company have developed a system for categorizing decisions known as the ABCD Framework. The objective is to determine the type of choice that needs to be made and then utilize the approved approach to resolving that specific issue.

The four classes they propose are as follows:

  • Decisions made on the fly that don’t pose much of a threat and aren’t made very frequently fall into category A.
  • Big bet choices. These are more precarious and have the potential to alter the project’s course. The occurrence of such events is rare.
  • When faced with a situation where a range of people or departments need to make separate decisions that will have a significant effect on the outcome, it is important to build consensus. In these instances, it is vital to ensure that collective input is taken into account when making a choice. This can be achieved through a variety of strategies, such as involving all stakeholders in the decision-making process, encouraging open and honest dialogue, and maintaining a focus on finding a solution that is beneficial for all involved.
  • Decisions have been handed off to others. One may entrust someone with these responsibilities.

If you have an established protocol for making decisions, you can commence with the necessary actions swiftly if a pressing issue arises that needs to be addressed. There is no requirement to linger. Furthermore, you can configure your task management system to carry out the necessary procedures automatically.

Verify Lack of Bias

As a final step, it is important to analyze whether any biases, conscious or unconscious, had an influence on your conclusion. It is worth noting that one of the most effective strategies for avoiding bias is to have a more diverse group of individuals involved in the decision making process. This was highlighted as one of the key benefits of having a remote workforce earlier in the post.

Employees Prefer Part-Time Schedules

We were not shocked to receive an immediate response from within New York Mellon concerning the prospect of employees being able to work remotely. We have been advocating for this benefit for a considerable period of time, as it is a desire shared by the majority of the workforce, with over 80% wishing to do so on a part-time or full-time basis. Please bear in mind that this is not a criticism of you; instead, it is a suggestion to create a more desirable working environment.

It was not simply the ill-advised relocation or the dissatisfaction of the employees that was notable, but rather the manner in which the story was reported in the media. When Yahoo made the decision to disallow its employees from working remotely, it generated a great deal of discussion, yet it seemed to suggest that telecommuting was a passing fad.

The report from New York Mellon gave a very different opinion to the previous one, suggesting that the idea of requiring remote employees to return to the office is outdated. It appears that the concept of remote working has now been widely accepted; it is about time that this has happened.

In the Mood for some Remote Work?

We have firmly established that there is a compelling case for employing remote workers. We are confident that you will agree with us. Our organization is focused on providing you with access to the world’s most skilled and experienced software developers. If you require assistance in recruiting a highly talented programmer for your remote workforce, please do not hesitate to reach out to us without delay.

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