Myth Busted: Working Remotely Is Just as Effective as Working in an Office

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If you’ve ever imagined never missing your kid’s baseball game or listening in on a conference call while doing a load of laundry, those scenarios are increasingly becoming a plausible option. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace study, 43 percent of employees worked remotely in some capacity last year. That result is up from 39 percent in 2012 and equates to providing 9.5 million more American workers some time working away from their coworkers. Yes, 9.5 million!

To break down those big numbers into actionable ideas, two leaders from very different companies with distinctly different programs shared how and why remote work has benefited their teams. Representing the Fortune 500 is Jenn Grabenstetter, Executive Director of Global Communications & Content Marketing at Sealed Air, the packaging behemoth with 23,000 employees worldwide.

On the successful start-up side is Montse Guasch, Vice-President of Marketing at Adaptly, a social ad tech company founded in 2010 which has grown to 145 employees. Even with their different implementations, both leaders agree on the goal: remote work is about getting the best out of your employees.

The Basics Need to Match the Company’s Culture

While Adaptly’s flexible work policy is available to all employees every day, Grabenstetter has taken a more limited approach, as there is not a corporate-supported policy at Sealed Air. Granbenstetter explained, “Managers have the discretion to make flexible work arrangements with team members on a case by case basis. I have probably bent that piece of semantics a bit further than most by making it a team-wide arrangement, but I remain committed that creative work requires a different kind of team workflow.”

For her team, they have a work from home day every other week.  “Everyone got to rank their choice for what day they’d ideally like to have at home,” Granbenstetter said. “We spread them out so that there are never more than two of us remote on the same day.”

Guasch understands there are cases where it makes more sense to be on site regularly, and feels Adaptly has created an environment where employees can do their best work from anywhere. Currently, the company has employees from client services, media operations, marketing, finance, engineering and product working away from the office.

Guasch’s team has two of its six members working remotely and she takes advantage of the program too. “As an executive, it is essential for me to be able to work abroad two times a year based on my family situation. Adaptly provides me that opportunity.”

Remarkable Work Doesn’t Occur in One Place

Finding the style, the hours and the methods that bring out your best work is what matters. Are you a heads-down worker, a collaborator or a connector? Recent studies support the idea that working from home can increase productivity and decrease stress. Grabenstetter agrees, “If your workflow allows for or requires individual output, content creation or conceptual time, remote work can really be an accelerator. I almost never have time or headspace to get words or ideas on paper in my office during normal work hours.”

In fact, remote work can even instill an ownership mentality. “It sets up a dynamic of trust between team members: we all know what needs to get done and we all know when we are accountable to each other for deliverables,” said Grabenstetter.

“There is always the misconception that employees working remotely will get nothing done. I believe that if an employee is not delivering good work, it doesn’t matter where they are located,” said Adaptly’s Guasch. “If a member of my team needs to work from home to deliver their best, I trust them and I will make sure I facilitate the best environment to produce the best results.”

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