Every single one of them seemed anxious about this meeting. Jessica had to tell them why she was calling an owner meeting, so the idea of possibly implementing a remote work policy was out there and in everyone’s mind that morning.
She didn’t want to tell them why she was calling the meeting. Having a preconceived opinion before hearing her out was not the best way to introduce the situation.
Not everyone had employees like Annie.
Of course, many of the owners and managers would prefer to work from home if they could…which meant their employees would, as well.
The idea of dealing with those requests stressed everyone more than she had expected.
Alas, owner meetings typically only happen once per quarter – so a special meeting like this meant there was something important to discuss, and Jessica had to provide details if she was going to get everyone in the same room before their next quarterly meeting.
All the employees knew when there was an owner meeting, because they all went to lunch together and stayed there for a long time. Owner meetings were off-site to prevent eavesdropping, but little did the owners know how much gossip they caused within the office.
Well, Jessica knew. Annie told her. And she stood up for her when people complained.
Now it was time for Jessica to stand up for Annie.
As everyone ordered food and drink, Jessica tried to act relaxed and confident (usually, this came natural for her…but not this time).
“So, Jess, what have you got for us?” Joe asked as if he had completely forgotten.
“Did Jeff tell you he wanted you to work from home? Is that why we’re here?” asked Scott.
Everyone laughed. Even Jessica, sort of.
She launched right into it…
“Well, I think we all know that remote work is becoming more and more common for company morale and even talent. Scott, you mentioned the idea of sourcing virtual assistants for our company blog and social media marketing, right? And Jim, you decided to hire a bookkeeper from New York…
Well, I had already done some research after hearing so much about all the successful companies out there who were making the remote work thing work. So I knew about some case studies and I even read about how to set up a remote work policy.
I was recently approached by one of my employees who had very good reasons for requesting that she move her position to her home office. She showed me all the great cloud communication options out there, and gave me a couple service providers who could set up the voice communications for us. She confirmed that she could handle the IT (or would pay someone herself if her Mac was acting up), and she showed me the secure, easy ways to collaborate with her team on the cloud for projects and documents.”
“Wait, Jess, is this Annie you’re talking about?”
“Well, I don’t think we need much convincing about letting her work from home. She’s great and clearly works well on her own, in spite of all the others. But you know what it would mean if we allowed her to work remotely,” said Jim.
They all nodded. It meant they’d have to tell everyone and explain it at an All Hands Meeting, which always adds so much tension.
“Yes, Jim. I do understand. The remote work culture is different than our own, and remote workers who are good at their work are the kind of people who can drive their projects, communicate well and not waste time. They are the kind of people who can be trusted.”
“Right – and is that the kind of people we have? I mean, sure, we have plenty of good employees. But how many are actually going to be able to be productive at home? And how will we know that they’re actually doing the work and not slacking off?” Scott was always the instigator.
Here’s the part Jessica was waiting for.
This is the best part.
“Well, Scott, we’d know because they’d actually be doing the work. That’s the point, right? Are we paying them for their time or are we paying them for their work? If they’re here and they run out of time because they were gossiping all day, we’re screwed because we can’t make them work late to get their work done unless we pay them overtime. So we either wait longer while paying them salary, give them warnings about the lack of productivity and gossiping in hopes it improves, or we lay them off and pay unemployment.”
They were all still nodding. This was a good sign.
“But if they worked remotely, they’d already have certain work and projects assigned to them that typically have regular deadlines – depending on the position, of course – and it would be entirely up to them to get their work done. If they slack off during the day, they’d have to work at night. All we care about is that the work is done and done well, right? Do we really care that it’s done from 8-5 as long as it’s done on time?”
Everyone was silent but clearly in agreement.
The team went on to discuss what a remote work policy would look like, and Jessica brought out her info on how to successfully manage a remote work team.
She shared her research on other companies’ remote work policies.
They discussed keeping it brief and private when letting people know that Annie would be allowed to telecommute, but agreed that it needed to be made clear that anyone who is allowed to work remotely would need to submit the request in writing to HR, their supervisor, and IT to be sure all bases were covered and challenges were addressed before approval.
Everyone then agreed that each person allowed to telecommute, Annie included, would have a 90-day probationary period to assess whether they’d be allowed to move their position to the cloud permanently (with the exception of mandatory meetings that directly pertained to them).
This led to a hilarious discussion about meetings and management in general, and Jessica pulled out the last printout she would need to share that day from the folder she had stuffed with research: the article about meetings and managers (M&Ms) being the greatest causes of work not being done at the office.
Everyone laughed and let the server talk them into margaritas all around. It was almost 4pm, they had a long, productive meeting, and the last thing they wanted was to return to the office and slow down productivity.