There is an obvious appeal about working from the comfort of your own home. With the rise of broadband internet and a global pursuit of a healthy work/life balance we have seen an increase in a new age workforce of telecommuters. Advances in cloud services and video conferencing capabilities have resulted in it becoming more popular for companies to be virtual and to provide the option for their employees to work remotely.
Through technological advances we have seen a shift in the organisational structure of companies, the introduction of flexible working hours and a global increase in having a remote workforce. The old attitude of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ has fallen away in the modern business world and a virtual company can be just as viable, productive and successful as an on-site company due to the technological communication tools available.Estimates claim that about 2.8% of the global workforce work from home half the time. The top industries for virtual companies include IT, recruitment, marketing and travel. With some big companies promoting the option for employees to work remotely. Dell’s work culture is based on the company’s ‘connected workplace’ initiative which offers flexible working hours, remote working and part-time work. IBM has several full time employment opportunities that allow you to work remotely and Salesforce, recognized as one of the ‘top 100’ places to work also offers full time remote employment. The list can go on and is only extending as more companies are offering the option for remote employment.
How Remote Work Has Evolved
There was a time when working from home was not a possibility, if your colleagues or business partners wanted to get hold of you when you were out of office, it happened through fax or the now obsolete pager. New technology has made it possible to work from anywhere and still be in real-time contact with your colleagues and clients. Instant messaging platforms have allowed people to communicate efficiently and to collaborate virtually. Examples of instant messaging platforms used in business include, Slack, Google Hangouts and Skype and many others that are suited to a specific business.
The concept of video conferencing is becoming more popular in the workplace, as video conferencing is the next best thing from meeting in person. With applications such as Skype and Facetime, you can attend a meeting from anywhere or conduct an interview with a potential employee through video.
Ten years ago working remotely meant a telemarketing or customer service position that paid very little, technology now affords us the opportunity to work remotely and still have a full-time career, allowing people to get the same job done, no matter where they are in the world. An argument against working remotely is how will you know if your employees are actually doing their job, this is where collaborative technological tools are important and time tracking applications such as Toggl should be used. Businesses should leverage the communication tools available and implement systems whereby you can easily communicate with your employees in remote areas. Another concept to implement is setting KPI’s that need to be achieved, so that each employee has targets to reach by a certain deadline. Scheduling a weekly meeting with all your employees or each team will allow you to have an idea of what they are working on and what they aim to achieve that week.
Businesses have even gone so far as to do away with renting traditional office space and instead have opted for shared co-working spaces. Shared work spaces are now more available than ever, which is an indicator of how a remote workforce is on the rise.
Shrinking Global Borders
Incorporating collaborative technology into the workplace has shrunk the geographic divide in the business world. Companies have expanded and exist in many different countries, resulting in global corporations. Geographic location is no longer an issue due to the advancement in tech and the collaboration tools used in the workplace. It has become easy to outsource work across the world and employ people in different countries, proper communication and time tracking is key in this regard. Travelling for business does not mean you have to be out of the loop, businesses should implement tools that can be used with a smartphone or laptop so that employees can work from anywhere and stay in constant real-time contact with the business and their clients. We see more people travelling for business and doing business across borders because innovative and efficient technology has allowed for easy communication.
The Current state of remote work
A recent study showed that seventy nine percent of people worldwide, work remotely once a week, with the most popular form of telework being a combination of in-office and out-of-office work days. Studies have actually shown that employees are happier, healthier and more productive if they are afforded the opportunity to work from home. There is the expectation that employees should have the ability and freedom to work from anywhere in modern age business,therefore the business should provide the necessary tools to allow for a diverse workforce of both in-office and out-of-office employees.
In a recent study, fifty five percent of non-teleworking respondents said they wished they could work remotely and 60 percent of those that do telework said they would leave their current job for a similar full time remote position at the same pay rate. Organizations attitude to remote working is changing and more companies are implementing flexible working hours or the option to work 50% remotely.
The days of essentially ‘clocking in’ are no longer, some of the biggest companies have incorporated the option for employees to work remotely or for a combination of in-office and out-of-office work. Creating a culture of flexible working hours and the option to work from home gives employees accountability and self-motivation to complete the tasks they are assigned without being micro-managed. Providing technology that caters for virtual collaboration is key in accommodating remote employees. Although, the on-site office is becoming less of a necessity, being physically present in the office creates a unified company culture and the sense of belonging to a team. The ideal work environment is 50% in office, with the option to work remotely without being hindered by the failure to collaborate effectively.