“What do you mean, let them work from home indefinitely??” the manager practically yelled. This was in response to my suggestion that a MGO or PGO doesn’t have to come into the office. In fact, they don’t need a permanent office at all, just a multi-use workplace for when they do come in for department or organization meetings, etc.

Jeff and I understand how this concept can be very unsettling, especially since the “in the office” paradigm has been in existence for so long.

I remember, early in my career, feeling angst and judgment about employees wanting to work remotely. I mean, how would they get anything done? Who would make sure they were actually working? Were we getting our money’s worth? Goodness, the topic would tie me up in knots.

Then, two things happened to me that changed my mind about the whole thing:

  1. I learned about managing by objectives, and I put that whole management philosophy into practice. When you manage by objectives, your focus is on setting objectives that you and the employee can agree on that achieve the organization’s AND the employee’s objectives. It’s not about managing time – like punching a timesheet – or attending meetings. It’s about making sure we get to where we want to be. Pretty simple.
  2. I realized that developing meaningful connections was one of the main strategic and messaging objectives in mid, major and planned giving. A meaningful connection with the donor is when the front-line fundraiser aligns with the passions, interests and communication preferences of the donor. And this alignment means that everything that happens between the front-line fundraiser and the donor is about two things: fulfilling the passions and interests of the donor, while securing net revenue for the organization.

When these two ways of thinking were embedded in my mind and heart, I began to realize that the main thing for a front-line fundraiser was to be with the donor, not to be in the office. That realization changed the way I approached business, office space and HR policies related to working remotely.

This kind of thinking is starting to change the landscape in the workplace as well. And COVID has spurred it along. That’s why I was intrigued by this article by Sean Peek in Business News Daily, where he explores the topic of working remotely. Here are his main points:

  1. “Remote work can help prevent the spread of illness, helping companies avoid lost productivity and protecting public health. For example, the outbreak of COVID prompted many employers to shift to a remote work model for all employees in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. Working remotely is effective. To better understand the effectiveness of remote work, Airtasker surveyed 1,004 full-time employees – 505 of whom were remote employees – throughout the U.S. about their work habits and productivity. The results indicate that remote workers are actually more productive than their office-based counterparts. The study found the following:
    • Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.
    • Remote employees take longer breaks on average than office employees (22 minutes versus 18 minutes, respectively), but they work an additional 10 minutes a day.
    • Office workers are unproductive for an average 37 minutes a day, not including lunch or breaks, whereas remote employees are unproductive for only 27 minutes.
    • 15% of remote workers said their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the 22% of office-based employees who said the same thing.
  3. According to the American Psychological Association, remote work can increase employee satisfaction when implemented correctly.
  4. Fast Company predicts that remote work software, like mobile work tools and virtual reality conferencing, will become the preferred form of communication – even over face-to-face meetings. AI will also likely play a major role in managing remote staff. These advancements might put companies more at ease.
  5. The transition to managing a remote workforce might be daunting, but with the right tech and hardworking employees, it can be a seamless process. In the long run, fighting the change may do more harm than good.
  6. Many employees now expect remote work opportunities. According to Buffer, 99% of current remote workers would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. That’s nine points higher than the figure from the same survey in the previous year.
  7. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 37% of remote employees would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home. Because of this increasingly popular trend, some refuse to accept an onsite position, knowing they can find a more convenient and flexible gig elsewhere.”

Sean concludes his piece by stating that “instead of resisting the change, organizations should improve their remote work policies and capabilities. If your company is concerned about productivity and performance issues due to a companywide ability to work from home, Lambert recommends creating standard key performance indicators (KPIs) for both management and employees. This way, she said, remote team members are aware of expectations, and their performance can be monitored.”

Jeff and I would encourage you to think carefully and objectively about working remotely. You want your MGOs and PGOs to be with qualified donors. That’s what they should be doing most of the time. They should not be in the office.