When you think of someone working remotely, you may imagine them meandering downstairs from their room after waking up, casually turning on their computer before brewing some coffee, readying themselves for a relaxing day of work, possibly in their pajamas. Well . . .I hate to break it you, but that may be right in some cases, but it’s not all bad.
Remote workers may be more engaged and get more done with their work week.
Over the last decade, the percentage of remote workers has increased significantly. Since 2012, the percentage of American workers who work from home at least some of the time has jumped from 39 to 43%, according to a Gallup survey. Another study by Flexjobs found that nearly 3% or 3.9 million American workers work from home at least half of the time— a whopping 115% increase from 1.8 million in 2005.
But, there seems to be a bit of a sweet spot when it comes to remote hours. A second Gallup study found that workers who spend 60-80% of their work week away from the office are more engaged in their work and more productive.
And it’s not the fresh-out-of-college 20 somethings that are working from home. It’s professionals, 35 years and older with college degrees, making 50k a year or more.
Remote working is on the up and up. In fact, WebPunch relies on its own team of remote workers from across the globe. Most live in the U.S., but a good many live abroad too. But like anything, there are pros and cons, which we got to thinking about recently:
The world is a manager’s oyster, for talent that is.
Looking to hire new talent? A business that allows remote working, especially 100% remote, can hire from anywhere in the world. They can pick the cream of the crop and not worry about relocation costs or convincing them to move. Quite the opposite, working remotely may even be an incentivizing benefit to some talented employees you may be eyeing.
Businesses will benefit, especially start-ups, because they won’t have to pay for an office or at least will be able to cut back on space. Granted, it may behoove them to invest in some digital communications like Slack and Trello—which we use—so there is always a dialogue open and workflows have a visual. But, those are still more cost-effective than thousands of square feet of office space you’ll have to decorate. Another option for businesses is to rent out shared space for those days of the week the team is scheduled to meet face-to-face. Those places usually have all sorts of amenities like community space, coffee and beer on tap, and an accessible kitchen.
Workers can create their own schedule.
Sleep is good. So is having a life outside of work no matter how much you love your job. Working from home allows for employees to craft their own schedules. Naturally, they’ll have to fit into a little bit of a schedule so they can work with their remote teammates in real time. However, doing the real work like writing a blog post, running a financial analysis, reaching out to new customers, or researching market trends, to name a few tasks, can all be done on their own time. Enabling your employees to have that flexibility means they get more time with their friends and family, enjoy their other passions and hobbies, and get sleep!
We spend a lot of time driving to work. The average American spends about 25 minutes a day commuting to work. That equates to about 200 hours a year, holidays not included. Working remotely would cut that down significantly, even if they’re working from home just a couple days a week. Not only that, cutting down on commuting means decreasing a company’s and an employee’s carbon footprint while cutting travel expenses.
More productivity is the cumulative result of the above benefits. Letting employees have control over their schedules in order to have more time with families and enjoy their other hobbies, while cutting down on the negative effects of commuting, all contribute to a healthier, happier workforce that should provide better results. In other words . . . clock in and stay home!
Digital communication has its limits.
Sure there are loads of communication methods these days like Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, and the list goes on. Then there are the messaging apps that facilitate teams communication through text. But there’s still the void of distance. Working remotely, particularly those teams that work remotely 100% of the time, may miss out on team cohesiveness. There’s only so much connection that can go on in digital communications and it’s much more challenging to read body language in any sort of video conference. That could hinder closing a sale or communicating a point to a colleague effectively.
Behind the computer screen.
There’s the potential for a lack of accountability among remote workers. No one is there watching them and making sure they are getting their work done in the manner agreed upon. You want to trust your employees and you hire them for good reason, but sometimes people slip through the cracks. It can be challenging to manage an office of a hundred, let alone a hundred employees scattered across the globe. This can be combated, however, with careful hiring practices, strictly managing and enforcing budgets, and maintaining open communication with your employees.
Sense of ownership.
Remote employees may not have a similar sense of ownership of the business as a result of that limited team cohesion. They may not see the business’s bigger picture because they don’t know what’s going on in other departments. At the same time, it may be easier for remote workers to simply go through the motions of work to get to their “life” quicker since it’s much closer. Encourage your employees to take ownership, take charge, and be innovative so they continue to stay engaged. WebPunch is very good about cross-informing departments about what’s going on—the different teams are regularly informed of the various activities through different chat groups on Slack as well as monthly newsletters. Also in Slack there is a channel for idea generation and things everyone is thankful for.
Remote working is trending up, whether we like it or not. Like anything, it’s got its ups and downs, but from what we’ve seen and experienced, the good seems to outweigh the bad. And there are always tools to combat the negative aspects of managing remote employees.
As a remote worker myself, I look forward to communication with my WebPunch team and its owners, whether that be the weekly strategy meeting or daily Slack conversations about content being published. I’m encouraged to endeavor into my own research on digital marketing and online reputation management in an effort to better inform our audience. At the same time, I have the freedom to suggest and develop new ways to engage our audience and potential clients.
Don’t rule out sending your employees home to work for the week; you may be pleasantly surprised.
Matthew Van Deventer is a content creator for WebPunch. As a dealer of words he dabbles in journalism and loves a good story, whatever the medium. Matthew lives outside of Denver, CO with his wife, daughter, and pup, Chewy.