You should write a blog post about this! It’s an insight that I think would be good to expand on.
— Ernie Smith (@ErnieSmithAN) June 4, 2018
When one of your favorite writers suggests you should write a blog post about something, what do you do?
Obviously, you write it, even if your brand new puppy is busily alternating between chewing every available cord in the room and your feet, in spite of the five chew toys arranged around him. So sidebar–after wanting a shorty Jack Russell for literally 25 years, I finally decided to stop listening to everyone who was like “Jack Russells are crazy!” or “Don’t get a dog–you’ll never be able to travel or do anything!” or a million other cautions and just get the dog already. So I became a puppy mom on Saturday to Basil Boddington Smalls. I defy you to tell me this isn’t the cutest dog ever. Possibly the clingiest, too, but hey…I waited this long, I may as well enjoy the love, right?
So anyway, it’s weirdly coincidental that the thing that finally got me to just do it and get the dog is actually the topic of the Associations Now article that I read and tweeted about, which then prompted this post: remote work.
I’ve been working remotely since November and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t sometimes lonely–especially during the winter. Isolation and loneliness are definitely challenges to remote work, but the many benefits definitely outweigh those challenges. One of those benefits being that you’re home to housebreak a new puppy, who will, in turn, help force you (well, me at least) to get out of the house more and also serve as a cute new coworker who sleeps by your feet all day.
Isolation and loneliness aside, remote work is pretty amazing, especially if you’re a person who works better in a quiet environment without the constant distractions of office life. Not to mention the thousands of dollars and hours saved not commuting to an office.
I’m not the only one who is pro-remote work; Ernie summarized the findings of a new International Workplace Group (IWG) survey of more than 18,000 business people across 96 companies that revealed that more than two-thirds of global employees work remotely every week, with more than 50% doing so for at least half of the week. The report also found that businesses are realizing that offering flexible work arrangements to their employees is yielding significant measurable benefits to both companies and employees. Here are a few key takeaways from the IWG report:
Businesses benefits of remote work:
- Business growth (89% – up from 67% in 2016)
- Competitiveness (87% up from only 59% in 2014)
- Productivity (82% up from 75% in 2013)
- Attracting and retaining top talent (80% – up from 64% in 2016)
- Profit maximisation (83%)
Employee benefits of remote work:
- Reduced commuting time
- Enhanced productivity
- Stronger job satisfaction and creativity
Another recent Associations Now article highlighted staffing challenges for associations in 2018: low unemployment, lack of resources/budget, and a skills gap that associations aren’t in a position to win with low salaries in addition to arduous, expensive commutes in the cities where associations dominate, like DC. It would stand to reason, then, that embracing remote work would be a win-win for associations: lower rent/office overhead and an enticing benefit valued by many employees, in addition to the business benefits the IWG report revealed.
However, the old-school mentality that pervades across many (most) associations seems especially stubborn when it comes to remote work. Out of 437 jobs listed on ASAE’s job board right now, a whopping 22 allow telecommuting. Really, associations?
Here’s the thing: in the association world, we spend a lot of money attending conferences where we eagerly take notes and tweet about how associations MUST evolve to remain relevant, embrace digital transformation, be data-driven, champion diversity and inclusion and dozens of other things…then we go back to the office and continue to do things like we’ve always done them…including clinging to the outmoded belief that you can’t trust people to actually work unless they’re in the office 9-5, Monday through Friday.
What if managers stopped seeing remote work as a ridiculous request being driven by entitled millennials and started seeing it as what it really is: a cost-saving solution that also addresses very real staffing challenges? Taking a page out of ASAE’s own book, look at their ForesightWorks research and resources…even at a quick glance through the change drivers, so many tie back in some way to the need for employees with very in-demand skills, as well as workforce changes facing associations today and into the future. To me, this quote from ForesightWorks pretty much sums up the imperative for associations to start thinking differently about remote work:
“The world in which associations operate is changing fast, and your organization’s leaders need to understand the external forces that could make or break its future success.”
Remote work is very much one of these external forces. Here’s hoping that soon the ASAE job board includes more than 22 out of 437 association jobs that allow telecommuting.
Wes Trochlil says
Good stuff, Maggie. I think this will grow over time. Associations always lag the larger market, and in this, they will be no different.
Sylvia Henderson says
I was fortunate enough to enjoy a once-a-week remote work opportunity at a Fortune50 corporation in the 1990’s when not so common as today. Some characteristics of people who “made it work” that still work today:
– Entrepreneural: communicate well and often with home office; time-disciplined; manage interruptions and surroundings; able to focus with distractions; create space specifically for work.
– Focus on outcomes: set small, SMART goals and report results to management to build confidence and trust that work is getting done.
– Happier & more people-interaction: take time out for treats and meeting new people…like at an outdoor table at a coffee & pastry shop!