Once upon a time, the words ‘work at home’ or remote work made it sound like you were either out of a job or one step away from giving up. There was a time when “working from home”, as the modern workforce knows it, wasn’t even a possibility. Back then, remote employment basically meant a telemarketing or customer service position at below minimum wage. It was rarely connected with a full-time career.
However, the time has changed indeed!
Nowadays, technology affords us the ability to get the same job done, no matter where in the world we are. It has enabled us to be in contact with co-workers or clients at any time. Thanks to the internet, remote working opportunities are now abundant, spurring many new companies to successfully connect solopreneurs/freelancers to projects.
But the new trend that excites me and is growing exponentially is the area of remote work that’s not just for freelancers; but also for employees. What started as a practical choice for low-earning freelancers is rapidly becoming a conscious choice for skilled and educated professionals across all industries.
Not only the millennial workforce, but even the baby boomers are happily embracing this brave new lifestyle.
What’s causing this mass exodus from brick-and-mortar offices?
Thanks to new technologies, a physical office can now be replaced by a digital one; one which has enabled work environments that are much more flexible and customisable.
The typical 9-to-5 workday with its boardroom discussions, extended meetings and restricted cubicles is fast morphing into a flexible working arrangement where productivity and efficiency are the only office etiquette employers are demanding. Add to this freedom some interesting by-products such as creativity and innovation, and we have ourselves a winner.
Companies end up getting the best talent and saving on facilities costs. Many successful startups have already embraced remote work, and more and more companies are realizing that remote work isn’t just convenient – it’s often much more effective and breeds innovation.
Hence, remote work is no longer an exception to the rule, it is fast becoming the rule for many modern workplaces to attract and retain quality talent. Employees get to work on their terms (when they want, where they want), eliminating the hassle and expense of commuting.
It’s a true win-win.
There are several ways remote work is changing professional lifestyles:
Increase in Productivity
Imagine, you wear what you are the most comfortable in, sitting in your favourite spot and listening to music that will help you feel creative. People are more at ease in environments they choose. Regardless of whether you build and adorn a home office or go out to your most loved bistro, working in your happy place can give a massive boost to your productivity. Recent studies have shown that large organizations reported 15% higher productivity from employees working remotely as compared to their peers doing the same job from office.
Raise your hand if you’d rather skip most of your office meetings!
Innovation demands autonomy and independent thought, unobstructed by other voices. And that’s why innovation doesn’t just happen in the boardroom, where one or two voices tend to dominate discussions and the rest are often muted.
That’s what Apple encourages. They ask every employee, no matter what designation; to do independent and creative thinking. Then, once they’ve developed an idea, they can call a small meeting with relevant people on to how to turn their idea into reality.
HubSpot recently released an infographic showing just how inefficient traditional meetings are in the U.S. :
- Annually: $37 billion in wasted money
● Daily: 25 million meetings
● Overall: 15% of organizations’ time
As it turns out, meetings don’t actually encourage innovation.
Hence, by allowing workers to work remotely and to work flexible hours, as long as they meet deadlines, companies aren’t permitting laziness – they’re allowing autonomy. They’re telling the people they’ve hired that they trust them to do their job and to do it well.
Working on your own time optimises your distribution of working hours plus you can time breaks well to do daily chores or to relax – allowing you to voluntarily extend the work day without any additional stress and on your own time. When you enable individuals to telecommute, you give them greater adaptability to work during the hours that they find to be most natural, and therefore they are less stressed and more effective.
Interestingly, both the employer and the remote worker save on costs with this novel arrangement. While a recent survey of Global Workplace Analytics and Flex Jobs states the number at US$ 11,000 saved per employee p.a. for an organisation in the United States, the same survey attributed a saving of US$ 4,000 p.a. for the remote worker as well (savings on commuting to the office and other related costs). So, it truly is a win-win situation.
Higher Retention Rates
Employees who work remotely report consistently higher job satisfaction and company loyalty than on-site workers. The workers who telecommute have better work-life balance, lower stress level and higher productivity, which, in turn, reduces attrition rates by almost 25%. Worker retention is higher, HR costs are lower, and companies that allow for remote work, experience more growth.
The fact is that life gets dull and repetitive if you keep working in the same work environment every day. Workers of today are demanding more flexibility when it comes to working to break the monotony of their lives, and for once it’s beneficial for all parties. Companies can attract and retain the best talent while saving on facilities and other costs. Employees get to work on their terms, by eliminating the hassle of commuting and fixed hours.
This bold trend is here to stay.