Not everyone can telework. Not all jobs can be performed remotely. However, in situations where telework is possible, I’ve seen employers really try to be accommodating and offer their high performing employees this flexibility. In one specific case, the boss of a very busy dental clinic gives her front desk staff the chance to rotate schedules so that each one of her front desk employees will get the chance to telework one day per week. I actually didn’t think that a dental clinic’s front desk setting would be ideal for a telework arrangement simply because of the requirement of the job--be at the front desk. However, with the right technology set-up, the right arrangements, and the right employer and employees in place, I learn that not only is it possible but it can also be very effective. In this particular arrangement, the employer and the employees have come up with a mutual agreement where they identified a set of tasks that can be done remotely such as checking insurance coverage, calling patients to remind them of their appointments, etc, and then set those tasks aside for telework days.
The feedback I hear from the employees is that they are very happy that their boss is offering this option to them. They perceive their boss as caring and understanding for letting them be able to work from home, letting them take care of their responsibilities at home, and letting them spend more time with their families. Not only do they sound very happy but they also seem very engaged in the work that they do. They sounded like they are very loyal to their employer. The employee tells me that if their employer can make such a commitment to them, they in turn can commit to being loyal and trustworthy employees. And that is one other key feature I noticed in this employer-employee relationship-- there is a tremendous amount of trust that goes both ways. Because of this flexible arrangement, the employees tell me that not only do they feel trusted but they feel empowered and valued by their employer.
Overall, when I visited this dentist’s office, I felt that it’s a happy and fun place to work. The morale seemed very high. There was a very open communication not only peer to peer but also boss to employees. The communication was open and also constant. And I think, as a result of this very positive dynamics in this workplace, the employees were allowed to telework. I think that the telework became possible because the conditions were ripe for it.
I don’t think their workplace was pressured to have such flexibility in place. Just because everybody’s doing it didn’t mean that they should also join the crowd. The elements of trust and open communication were already there and that enabled them to organically come up with an effective telework arrangement. Some workplaces implement telework for the sake of having that flexibility in place but it is not likely to be effective if the key elements are not there in the first place. I think telework has to develop organically just like how it did at this dental office.
In : Org Psychology
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