Remote working has experienced a renaissance in recent years, with it being reported that 70% of people worked away from the office at least once a week in 2018. This is only set to increase with many workers now desiring this perk. It has been predicted that half of the UK’s workforce will work remotely by the year 2020. With all this in mind, will the ‘traditional’ office soon be outnumbered by remote ones?
Once reserved for those that worked for themselves, by themselves, remote working has now become one of the most sought-after employee perks in many places around the world. In fact, according to research by TotalJobs, 59% of employees believe that flexible working (including the ability to work from home) is the most important benefit to look out for when searching for a new job. A further 28% even admitted they would move jobs for the chance to work remotely.
But why has it become so popular? It’s easy to assume that everyone just wants the chance to snooze their alarm for a little bit longer in the morning or skip the frustrating traffic queues and delayed trains that they deal with on an almost daily basis. But, while it is true that these factors can boost morale, the modern workforce simply demands flexibility.
Workplaces and the people that frequent them are changing, particularly for new parents. Gone are the days where many women would take significant time out from their career to raise their children with plans to return much later down the line – or sometimes, not at all. Now, there is more fear that this will halt their progress if they take too much time out, especially with data from the Chartered Management Institute and XpertHR showing that men are 40% more likely to be promoted to managerial roles than women.
This is backed up by ONS analysis which shows that the number of women in England who are employed and have children aged between three and four has increased by almost 10% over the past two decades – and the prominence of women in the workplace can be seen in places other than the UK too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, more than 70% of American women with children aged under 18 are in employment.
With concerns about growing childcare costs all across the world, remote and flexible working has made it easier for working parents to juggle their career and home life, making jobs that offer this as a perk more attractive to them. Not only can they be home to do the morning school run and collect their children from school, but they are also able to be there (and carry on working) if their children are feeling under the weather and are unable to go to school.
But, it isn’t just working parents who desire remote working. Almost everyone has occasions where they need to dash off early or during their lunch for an appointment – no one wants to fall behind on their dental check-ups (as much as they may dread going). Ask a room full of people, and the majority wouldn’t say no to the improvements working remotely from time-to-time can bring to their time management and work-life balance.
Flexible working doesn’t just benefit your workers. We all know that happy employees make more productive ones, and you can boost their morale by making them feel trusted to ensure they’re putting in the hours at home and delivering the work they’re meant to.
However, when it comes to remote working, we’re not necessarily saying that every business should do away with their physical office completely. Regular human-to-human interaction is still important for team-building and ensuring that communication is completely clear. We all know that problems can quickly arise if not everyone is on the same page when working on a project.
For many businesses, offering the option for their employees to work from home two or three times a week may be the perfect solution. In fact, figures from Global Workplace Analytics suggest that if businesses in the US let their staff work from home for just half of the time, they could cut their operating costs by around $11,000 a year. This isn’t just great for your business’s bottom line – it’s also better for the environment.
The reasons for this are simple. Your office will use less energy if it’s not being used all the time, and the fewer employees that need to travel to and from the office each day, the fewer fossil fuels that are being burnt by them getting to work.
Going back to the topic of feeling under the weather, remote working can also be a great way to reduce days lost to sickness absence. If an employee is too ill to travel into work but feels up to the task of answering emails in their pyjamas, giving them the tools to do this from the comfort of their own home will mean that important things still get done.
According to statistics, 58% of those aged between 18 and 30 years old in the US took up to five sick days in 2017. This is something that can seriously cost businesses in the long run, so reducing the amount of work lost by offering this option can only be a good thing.
Continuous improvements in technology have made it possible for businesses of all shapes and sizes to offer remote working. It no longer has to be reserved for the industry bigwigs, such as Amazon, Xerox, Dell and American Express. Thanks to the growing accessibility of cloud-based software, your work can be accessed anywhere and everywhere (as long as the person has the permission to do so, of course).
Email and instant messaging help to ensure that everyone is able to communicate quickly no matter where they’re located. Online document authoring and sharing tools (such as Google Docs and Office 365) also make it easy to share your work with others and get feedback by giving them permission to edit your documents. All you need is an internet connection, and collaboration can maintain a seamless process.
But like with most things in life, remote working isn’t “one size fits all”. Work with your employees to understand their specific needs when it comes to their preferred working culture. Giving them the option to work remotely or from the office means each individual can work where they feel most productive. Giving them the tools to stay connected is vital for its success. Not everyone feels motivated when working solo (even if this is only physically) and no matter how dedicated your team may be, it’s normal to have concerns that not everyone will pull their weight if they’re not working in an office environment.
Home may be where the heart is, but it also has plenty of distractions; even the most disciplined of us can fall victim to watching rerun after rerun on daytime TV when we should really be doing something else.
This is where work management tools come in handy. For instance, Ayoa lets you delegate tasks to other members of your team, and set due dates and reminders so that nothing is left to fall to the wayside. Those who have been assigned tasks can then set progress indicators for each one, so you always know how far along everyone is with everything you’re working on. With accountability clearly outlined in Ayoa, you’ll rest assured knowing everything is taken care of.
When it comes to meetings and conference calls, the show can also easily go on if you have the right gadgets and technology. With a high-quality webcam, microphone and conferencing and video messaging software (like Skype, Zoom and Go To Meeting), you can feel like everyone is in the same room, even if that’s not the reality.
After all, what is one of the biggest benefits of having a virtual team? This is the fact that they can be based all over the world – across different cities, countries and even continents. This doesn’t just give you a bigger talent pool to choose from when hiring, but also makes it easier to cover a wider customer market.
Using these means to schedule regular calls and virtual meetings in between less frequent face-to-face catch-ups can help keep your teams’ relationships strong and ensure they produce the best work possible, no matter where they’re based.
We’ve all heard that ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and that ‘two heads are better than one’ – and that’s because it’s true. By keeping everyone in near-constant communication (even if they’re apart for the majority of their time at work), your remote team can be productive and collaborative while achieving the work-life balance they crave.
Want to start embracing remote working? Ayoa makes this a seamless process by giving you and your team the tools you need to work together – even when you’re apart. Invite your team members to contribute to the Task Boards and Mind Maps you create, delegate tasks, get progress updates and set due dates all from one app. Discover more about Ayoa for remote teams or sign up for free today.