That's really unfortunate to hear about your now former remote employee. I currently work 100% remotely from Boise, Idaho for a firm in Austin Texas and it has been working very well for both of us so far. I will say, however, there are some key differences between my situation and your former employee - 1. I used to live and work in Austin for several years before the pandemic. 2. I've been good friends with the principal that hired me on to this position for around 5 years before I moved away. 3. I'm turning 40 this year and I've always had a strong work ethic to do my best work with any employer. And lastly, this firm has several offices around the country and through Zoom we coordinate our work and tasks together on a daily basis, sometimes with various team members located in other offices.
The irony of the pandemic, as terrible as it was, forced everyone to think outside the box and find alternative work solutions. Remote work, as great as it has been for some like myself, can and will get taken advantage of at the expense of the firm who hired them. The good with the bad always exists. I think one of the keys is finding remote workers with integrity. This may be the hardest task and might take time. However, finding a remote employee with a good work ethic can be just as valuable a local employee you see everyday. Another key is to review and revise policies and procedures that allow for remote workers a flexible schedule while setting clear expectations, boundaries, and guidelines for deliverables and timetables that they're responsible for.
If you're dedicated to remote working conditions, it's impossible to control what their actions during typical work hours. My schedule, for example, falls outside of "normal business hours" every week. My wife is a healthcare provider and requires her to be physically at her office everyday. This means I'm responsible for making sure kids get to their weekly appointments and other obligations that would otherwise cause me to step out of the office for an hour or so. I make sure I keep track of when I work and for how long in case I need to wake up early the next day or work later that night to catch up. My project manager (friend) thankfully keeps me on a loose leash. He simply asks for updates everyday and is patient when requesting I send him a document or a response to an email in case I'm not at my computer. He also makes himself readily available on Zoom and text or phone for any questions or concerns I have through out the day.
I know this is a very long winded response to your initial message but I wanted people to know that remote work is viable and can work very well with the right people and a willingness to learn together. I hope this message helps and that your next experience with a remote worker is more positive and long lasting.
Ryan Campbell, AIA, NCARB
FGM Architects Inc.
We Build Community
Sent: 3/8/2023 10:32:00 AM
From: Gary M. Lepore AIA
Subject: Be careful with remote employees
Just wanted to send out a warning - My firm had hired a remote employee with 7 years experience out of Tenn. (we are in Rhode Island) He missed two important deadlines! and we called him on it , only to discover he was working full time for three firms and couldn't keep up with the workload - we let him go immediately ! his reply was, " not to worry he would have a new job by Friday !" I might be considered "Old School" But I really question why employees now have all the power with flexible work hours, remote working and work on a project team that is located all over the USA - I want to know how they are really learning, i.e. asking the "Old Timers" in the office all the real questions on how to detail something and getting real experience from working with someone that has been at it for 15 plus years, when these "remote workers" are working on their time, remotely from the backyard and now we are discovering working for several firms just to bring in the paycheck.
Gary Lepore AIA
LDL Studio, Inc.