Work Better Part 4 | Remote Working
The fourth part of our Work Better series brings us to the controversial topic of remote working
- The Future of Teamwork – Part 1
- Team Motivation – Part 2
- Teamwork – Part 3
- Remote Working – Part 4
- Effective Virtual Meetings
- Freelance vs Teamwork
- Optimal Tools for Optimal Results
- How to achieve ten times more
Remote working is one topic that has been dominating my thoughts for quite some time now. Does it work or not? If you research this topic there are many different opinions and stacks of data either supporting or not. There are many stories of small and large companies that got it right to have more than 50% of the company work remotely. On the flip-side, there are stories where it completely failed and companies had to change their policies back to office-bound working.
Where to from here though?
How do I know if this will work for me or not? How does one implement this without potentially losing a lot of money or damaging your reputation in some way?
The employee hat
One way of getting to my answer was putting myself in the shoes of the employee first. One thing I know for sure is that happy employees most certainly perform the best. So what if I briefly replace my employer hat with an employee hat and think about what would increase my happiness levels with regards to work. Wouldn’t it be great if I could be in charge of my own schedule? Go to weddings or day events without worrying about what my employer would say? Or go travelling to some holiday destination without it affecting my work?
These types of reasons contribute to the global growth of remote working and I believe the future of work is a lot less tied to a location and a 9-5 time slot and more focused on what people deliver at a particular deadline than a matter of when or where.
So without wasting more time, let me dig into why I believe that remote work is, in fact, beneficial to both employee and company under the right circumstances and terms, and let me just say this upfront, remote working is not for everybody.
Remote work is still work
Where you do the work does not change what you are doing. It is the same tasks, just delivered at a different location and possibly outside of the 9 – 5 structured time frame. Freelancers, contractors and entrepreneurs have been working this way for years. It certainly isn’t a new concept, only a growing one. According to many studies I have come across, the majority of workers will be freelancers by 2020. More businesses are operating in multiple cities and across international borders, so it is no longer weird to work with someone that is not even in the same city or even the same country.
More importantly, more people are seeking careers in what they are passionate about and not just for having a job. Passion means that you are willing to put the time and effort in, no matter when or where. If you are passionate about your career you also care more about the end product you deliver and about growing your knowledge and expertise on the subject. I believe the overall quality of such an employee is much more valuable than someone simply paying their bills.
There is a difference between Digital Nomads and Remote Workers
Remote work is often associated with digital nomadism. Although digital nomads do remote work, remote workers don’t necessarily want to be labelled as digital nomads. The way I see it, stereotypical digital nomads are people in their 20’s who sell all of their belongings to travel around the world, live out of a backpack and work from the beach. Digital nomads intentionally travel while working remotely with the primary purpose of travelling. The remote work is just a means to this end.
Remote workers are people who want more freedom, without being tied to an office and a start and end time. It is about independence. They can live in one city all year long for whatever reason, being it to follow the work commitments of their spouses, or having their children in a specific school. Whatever their reason, they can do it while working for companies in a different city or country. Some work in the same city but have two office days and three flex days from wherever they are.
Some people are just really good at working at night time, especially in the tech and creative industries. I for one perform much higher levels of creative work when I work late at night than during the day. Like right now I am writing this article and it is 23:30 and my mind is crystal clear. No interruptions, my music is playing, the family is in bed, this is my time.
The future of work is flexibility and the ability to choose.
Work has changed drastically over the past decades. Certain technological advances have just simply changed the way people work. Business tools like Monday and ydox have enabled people to work more efficiently and more productively and the best of all is, the outputs are more measurable. I know many people that would prefer having more time to work out, eat healthier and spend more time with loved ones. Working in an office and time-consuming commuting makes this very difficult. If we could learn to work in ways that would allow us to get our work done while also having time for these important things in life, then why not do so?
Where did the 9 – 5 schedule come from? It started during the industrial revolution when consistency was needed for factory work. With the technology shift, we don’t need this anymore. I believe work is no longer about the place but more about authenticity. Right now I am writing this article at this late hour because I am passionate about what I do. I don’t have to wait until tomorrow morning to write this article at work during office hours. I am being authentic. I am busy putting a piece of myself into my work, my mind on paper.
Digital Communication Tools
In my opinion, at least 70-80% of business operational decisions are made through digital communication tools such as Slack, Calendar, Evernote, YDOX or even Whatsapp. The internet changed the way we communicate, personally and in business.
If you have the right tools and apps, you can make remote work very easy and effective. In the past, we formed a level of trust by having someone in the same room, which has changed entirely. Now you can work with someone you have never met, from a different country and culture, and have a better working relationship with them than the person you cannot stand to be around within the office next door.
Remote work is for people that wish to be in control – not just for millennials.
Remote working has been associated with the millennial generation, mostly because of the digital nomads, yet we have been working like this for generations already. It is true that Millennials seek more meaningful ways to work on something that inspires them, but even though millennials probably make up the biggest generational part of today’s workforce, I believe everyone can benefit from location independence to work.
Mothers want to be around their kids while building their careers, travellers want to see the world while they work, introverts want to work in their own private spaces and many people are exhausted from spending so many hours a day commuting. The more I think about the more it makes sense.
Remote working is not for everyone
There is a flip side to this conversation too. If you are not totally comfortable with spending a lot of time with yourself, working remotely can get very lonely. If you don’t have the discipline and you don’t have 100% surety that you can get the work done in your own space and time, remote work is not for you. Certain jobs and teams require you to be present at the location in order to work effectively, so remote working is not an option for everybody. If you perform certain important office tasks like reception, or key relationship management or something down this line, then you cannot leave the office. Your work also needs to be clearly defined and measurable in order for you to be able to work remotely without your employers losing trust or faith in your ability to do your work. There are many things to consider before you can start working remotely.
In general, I believe remote work comes down to being able to work in a way that works for you without having a negative impact on the company you work for. Happiness at work is one of the top priorities for modern professionals.
My final thoughts on this matter are that as a company you need to really think this through carefully and consider that you need to make this option available to everyone and not just a select few. You need to think about how this could impact your business in the short and long term and how remote teams will influence your relationship with your clients. If you want to make this work you are going to have to work really hard on transforming the culture of your company into a remote working machine where deliverables and outputs outrank timetables and locations.