Flexibility and Accountability: Striking The Perfect Remote Work Balance

Remote work is one of the most important innovations in how humans collaborate.

It gives employees unprecedented flexibility, allowing them to set their work routines, schedules and tasks—something their grandfathers never did.

On the other hand, remote work has given employers easy access to world-class talent at very attractive rates. At no point in history have these things been possible.

It does have its challenges, and for the whole thing to be truly a win-win proposition, folks need to strike a balance between flexibility and accountability.

Remote workers need to deliver, even when their bosses are on the other side of the world, and management needs to trust that their guys are on the job.

How is this balance achieved?

That’s what we’ll talk about here.

We’ll talk about the 5 “Cs” that enable workers and management to strike that balance between flexibility and accountability. (The first 3 Cs will deal with flexibility. The last two will cover accountability.)

The 5 Cs

#1 Common Vision

When people hold the same vision, micromanaging becomes superfluous. People who rally behind the same goals won’t need by-the-minute instructions. They know where the whole organisation is going and run towards it.

With a common vision, people don’t need to live in the same zip code.

(Imagine long-distance lovers gawking at the moon at the same time. They may be separated by miles, but their common vision unites them.)

Management has to instil company values at the outset. Workers must know the virtues and values the organisation believes in because this will seep into every facet and phase of the work. If you don’t want to micromanage employees and instead give them robust freedom, you better make sure that they know what the company is all about.

Different companies have different identities, images and brands. Different organisations have different things they most care about.

For example, is your brand about customer service excellence or are you known for innovation leadership?

Are you all about sustainability and the environment? Or are you a no-nonsense organisation intent on the bottom line?

You need to let employees know the nature of your game.

#2 Clear Policies and Outcomes

If the first one was big picture, we’re starting to get a little granular here.

Before you send off employees to their virtual cubicles, you need to let them know the policies that are at work.

What are the rules of the game? What specific rules and code of behaviour must each employee adhere to?

These must be clearly answered and outlined in a handbook—a formal document that people can access and use as a reference.

One of the most important parts of this document is detailing how performance will be measured and evaluated.

What are the company’s expectations of its employees?

More specifically, what are the rates or levels of output the company expects for a certain period of time?

What productivity levels are you expecting from a specific role?

For example:

  • Sales Representative: 30 customer interactions per day/ 5 new accounts per month
  • Writer: 4 quality articles per week
  • Graphic Designer: 4 concept designs per week
  • HR: 10 interviews per week
  • Social Media Manager: 3 posts a day/ 2% growth for follower base per week

So instead of micromanaging and looking over the shoulder of your employees, you check against the agreed-upon quotas and let people work at their desired hours.

The quotas should be realistic, measurable and aligned with the overarching goals of the company.

#3 Clear Communication

The main feature of remote work is that folks do not come to the office like the regular 9-5. But this poses a communication challenge for teams where members are supposed to talk about the project, but don’t have the opportunity to interact face to face.

So that nothing important can slip through the cracks, there must be a communication playbook that guides your guys on how to talk to each other. (The document can be included in the handbook mentioned earlier or be a standalone document people can always refer to.)

This communication playbook must provide answers to questions like:

  • What are the guidelines for appropriate communication etiquette?
  • What communication tools should be used for different purposes (e.g., email for formal communication, and instant messaging for quick questions)?
  • What reporting mechanisms are in place for remote employees?
  • How should employees update their managers on their progress?
  • How often are team meetings held, and through which platforms?
  • Is there a schedule for team check-ins?
  • What procedures should employees follow in case of technical issues, power outages, or other emergencies?
  • How should employees communicate if they’re unable to work due to unforeseen circumstances?

Having the foresight to answer such questions can promote a positive work culture. Pointing out where the boundaries are allows people to play accordingly.

#4 Comment & Commend

We have come to the “maintenance” portion of the 5Cs.

You have given your team the nature of the game, and the rules of the game, as well as pointed out where the boundaries lie.

Ideally, the team can work on autopilot at this point. But since this is not an ideal world, you can expect that there will be misses and errors along the way.

Sometimes quotas are not met.

Sometimes the quality of the work will be lacking.

Corners will be cut, and deadlines may not be adhered to.

Management should quickly and consistently point out when these things happen and nip them in the bud. This serves as a wake-up call for guys who think their leaders don’t have eyes on the ball.

Make the people accountable for their work. A quick and neutral message like “Let’s make sure that reports are complete, and meet the deadline next time,” would suffice.

On the other hand, when your guys have done something commendable, maybe they landed a big client or submitted work beyond what is required—you should also be the first one to celebrate. A simple message that acknowledges their effort is more than enough. (If you’d like to reward them with something tangible then all the better.)

This makes the guys on the team feel that their work is being noticed, gives them a sense of accomplishment and provides fuel for the next assignments.

Reward good behaviour and you will get more of it.

#5 Capitalize on Technology

Trusting your guys doesn’t mean that you totally relinquish control or that you purposely turn a blind eye to whatever they’re up to on the other side of the world.

Today’s technologies allow managers and leaders to choose their level of engagement with the team. You can adjust your level of involvement depending on factors like type of project, time of the year, or person.

There’s a whole suite of technologies that allow you to monitor and “look over” the shoulder of your workers. You can track the progress of your guys. It can be as close as seeing the things that are coming up on their screens or the stuff they type on their keyboard.

This doesn’t mean you’re going to be using them all the time, but it’s good to know that you have this option for when you would like to exercise it. You don’t want to micromanage, but you do want a level of access from time to time.


So those are the 5Cs of balancing flexibility and accountability for remote workers.

Think of it like basketball. You tell your guys the nature of the game (#1 Common Vision), teach them the rules (#2 Clear Policies & Outcomes), point out the boundaries of the court (#3Clear Communication), referee when something’s not right (#4 Comment & Commend) and finally, look at the replay at the official’s table when need be (#5 Capitalize on Technology).


Kinetic Innovative Staffing knows a thing or two about remote workers. We help companies find remote talent for their organisations.

With our database of over 4 million remote professionals, Kinetic can fill a broad range of roles, from lawyers, accountants and engineers, to graphic artists, virtual assistants, and social media managers.

Our clients hit two birds with one stone by gaining access to world-class talent while enjoying as much as a 70% drop in labour costs.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore, or if you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.

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