As Coronavirus has entered the scene and countries and companies are escalating safety and prevention measures to finally control the spread, remote working has been put in the spotlight once again, and now it matters more than ever.
As we enter a new decade, we can take a moment to consider the trends that changed the way we live and work in the last few years, from embracing flexible working policies and video conferencing technology to using AI in new and inventive ways within the workplace. Throughout 2020, we are likely to see these trends continue to evolve as remote working will become a “native” approach to the working model for more businesses around the world.
But before we delve any deeper let’s take a step back and discuss what exactly is remote working.
What is remote working?
Remote work refers to a working style that allows professionals to work outside the physical boundaries and limitations of a traditional office environment. Remote working is based on the principle and belief that certain jobs do not require the physical presence of the professional in a specific place to be executed successfully and effectively.
What are the top 6 benefits of remote working?
A remote working system provides invaluable opportunities and benefits for companies, employees, and even the public.
Here’s an overview of the 6 most common benefits of working remotely:
1) Increase in productivity
Study after study has shown that remote working and working from home boosts productivity to whole new levels. The reason is that workers can fully focus on their work at hand and not get distracted by office happenings, meetings, co-workers asking them questions and other office distractions.
Furthermore, they don’t waste any time commuting, arriving late and/or having to leave early to catch the last train to get back home. Especially some positions, in particular in the tech industry, require employees to be 100% focused when undertaking attention-intensive tasks and projects.
Open office plans defeat the purpose of focused and distraction-free work. There are simply too many things happening in a busy office environment.
As such, a work from home policy, despite what many employers think, leads to an increased productivity and effective business operation.
2) Enhance business continuity
As you are well aware there are quite a few factors that are outside your control and can affect your business’ operation.
Adverse weather conditions, strikes, national events, health emergencies (think of Coronavirus), all of this can have an impact on the employees’ ability to come into work.
Having a remote working system in place hedges your risk against having to deal with these outside factors and allows for the seamless and problem-free business continuity.
3) Boosts employee morale and happiness
Productivity and work happiness are deeply rooted in personal wellbeing. If a person is happier, doesn’t suffer from stress and anxiety and is more fulfilled, then they are bound to put in more effort in their day jobs and the company.
Even though fulfilment and work happiness are usually tied to money and promotions, for the majority of the work population that’s just but another factor and not the only reason.
Work flexibility and remote working options enable the staff to achieve a better work/life balance, spend more time with their family and friends and doing the things they love in their free time and spend less time commuting (which adds tons of stress on our daily routine).
4) Saves money
Implementing a remote working policy is cost efficient and works out cheaper in the long run. Remote work saves on commuting costs, reduces business overheads and brings down the cost of leases.
Workspace is one of the biggest expenses of companies in 2020. $ per square foot has skyrocketed in the recent years, especially in big business hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and other major capitals.
Having to pay a lease in one of those countries puts a huge strain and burden on the company’s financials. By allowing more and more people to work from home and potentially operate on a skeleton crew in the office will result in needing much less space which can free up the company’s budget to be reallocated to other initiatives and departments like R&D, marketing, scaling up and even pay rises.
5) Gives access to a wider pool of applicants
When remotely working, geographical boundaries are no more. Employers aren’t restricted anymore to only having to hire local professionals or having to relocate them to bring them to the company.
Remote working gives access to a huge pool of applicants and candidates. That works both ways as it also gives professionals from smaller towns and places that are farther away from economic business centers an option to apply and find work.
Lastly, by breaking down the geographical barriers, it does wonders to having a diverse and multicultural workforce and improves employee retention.
6) Positive environmental impact
It comes as no surprise that by promoting a remote working policy you have a positive environmental impact. Employees are no longer required to come in the office which means that they don’t have to commute.
If we take into account the latest ESG regulations and policies and the constant pressures for companies to reduce their carbon footprint, enabling your staff to work remotely is a cost effective and simple means of doing so.
Commuting aside there are even more benefits – your organisation can reduce electricity consumption and limit the amount of greenhouse gases that you’re producing as a business resulting in further tax benefits and a better public image overall.
A quick primer on remote working’s history
Even though remote working has been trending in the last couple of decades — ever since the widespread of the internet — it’s not a new notion. It has been around for much longer than that.
Long before the industrial revolution took place, the majority of professionals used to work from home – think of carpenters, blacksmiths, tailors, etc. They used to have a ‘home office’ or a space specially equipped to work in.
As the industrial revolution came along, the creation of huge factories necessitated the physical presence of the staff in the factories. The majority of the jobs required people to work with their hands helping the product line assembly. Even though the industrial revolution was a huge leap forwards, in this context it took things several steps backwards.
After the industrial revolution, once services started to become the main commodity of companies all over the world, we had the introduction of cubicles which slowly advanced to the open plan office system that prevails today in companies all across the globe.
Open office plan: a recipe for disaster
Open plan offices were introduced as a revolutionary concept that promised to skyrocket productivity and cooperation and ever since have been the norm for most companies.
Unfortunately, the real impact of open offices is much more negative than what the blind supporters of this movement would have you believe.
Let’s start with the most obvious issue with open office plan – the excess noise. Anyone who has spent even 10 minutes in such a layout definitely has noticed how distracting and annoying all the excess noise and hustle and bustle of a busy office can be. There is absolutely no way that you could properly concentrate and focus on the task at hand. Noise will bring down productivity and add stress to the staff.
Noise aside, anything and everything can be a distraction. Coworkers walking by, someone chatting next to you, there are all sorts of stimuli that you have to deal with. Visual noise is a real problem with open office layouts so it’s very easy to lose focus and studies have shown that once you lose focus it usually takes some time (20+ minutes) for you to settle back into whatever you were originally doing.
We’re only seeing the top of the iceberg here; there are numerous more issues and problems with the open office plan – illnesses that can spread quickly and take down your whole staff, no control over the employees’ personal space, the lack of said personal space, privacy is a thing of the past, and all in all, open offices increase stress and negatively affect long term health.
Remote working: the way of the future
We, at Coded Lines, have long embraced the remote working model and above all, the corresponding culture and mentality. Working remotely transcends the limitations of the traditional definition a.k.a. just having a team who work partially or fully from a remote location without central offices.
Having deeply etched the remote working mentality in our ethos we have adopted flexible working policies that work great for our staff that are based all over the world; through the abundance of SaaS-based cloud software that’s designed for this exact purpose, remote working has been easier, most effective and more cost-efficient.
Given how normalized remote working has become this year, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s the way of the future. That said, businesses have to make the right accommodations. The ability to establish home offices, without many technological sacrifices, is just one example that the likes of Carola Jain can attest to.
Working remotely has really changed my attitude to a positive instead of a negative. I’m one of the few people that go to work, to actually work. The distractions are at work, not at home. People coming up to your cubicle & the constant chatter decreases productivity when you’re actually in the office. Besides, not having to battle traffic and office politics is a major win for me.