Technology has given workers the ability to work from the corner office or the Starbucks on the corner. Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of Flex Strategy Group/Work Life Fit Inc. and author of “Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day,” published a report investigating who works remotely and how they and office-bound colleagues are trained to balance their personal and professional lives. Workforce talked to Yost about her findings.
Workforce: Your research found that 31 percent of employees do their jobs from a remote location. Why is that an important statistic?
Cali Williams Yost: When you have almost one-third of full-time workers in the U.S. doing most of their work from a remote location, no longer is telework a perk, a benefit or a policy. It’s a core operating strategy.
WF: Why is knowing how to control when and where you work beneficial to a company’s bottom line?
Yost: We have to be told how to capture this flexibility to match our work-life fit. So not only are we getting our jobs done, but also making the other parts of our life that help us to sustain our performance happen. By telling them how to do it, your organization can achieve the operational objective.
WF: Why is it important that remote workers receive this training?
Yost: You have to think about how you have to put the boundaries up around all the parts of your life that help you be your best on and off the job, and then you have to also understand how to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with your team, manager, customers, family and friends.
WF: A majority of workers still operate in office environments, however, and you found that they’re less likely than remote workers to say they’ve received training or feel in control of their work-life flexibility. You also found that almost half of these office workers are women. Is there a connection?
Yost: One of the goals of this research is to stop making flexibility about women and moms in the hope that we can make it more comfortable for women to use it [flexibility skills] without thinking they’re going to be negatively impacted.
WF: What can employers focus on when training remote employees to have more control over their work-life flexibility?
Yost: I think one of the misconceptions about telework is that to be successful you just have to understand how to work the technology. It [success] is three layers: It’s understanding technology, but then knowing how to manage your everyday work-life fit in the context of that flexibility and then communicating, coordinating and collaborating with your team, your manager, your customers, your family, to make what matters to you happen in a way that fits your needs and the needs of your business.