Remote Working: How to Make it Work

Remote working is growing in popularity. But is it really suitable for all businesses and individuals and what do factors do you need to consider?

Thanks to the digital age, you can now successfully complete projects and communicate with your team without being in the same room, (or even the same country). This is known as remote working.  But does it really work for everyone?

As an employee, flexible, remote working sounds idyllic. It can reduce stress levels thanks to avoiding hefty commutes. You might be more productive when working alone, without distractions in a set up that suits you best. It can even make you happier; the Owl Labs Global State of Remote Work reports that “employees who work remotely at least once a month are actually 24% happier than those who never work remotely.”

While remote working seems to offer incredible benefits to employees – can the same be said for the business owners? Well having a more productive, engaged and happy workers can only be a good thing. Offering remote working should also increase employee retention.  There is an added benefit of potentially reducing building costs if you require less desk space to accommodate remote workers. Being more flexible will even help you to ensure your business if future-fit and attracts the young millennials who expect a more nomadic work life.  A career network, for college students, did a study on this and found that “Policies that cultivate a flexible, fun, and casual work environment have a positive impact” on young people’s interest in specific employers.

It sounds simple right. But if that were so wouldn’t everyone be doing it? We explore the factors to consider when considering a remote work life.

Trust

The world of work has changed and as such Management need to understand that the 9-5 set up may need to be changed too.  Of course some business owners may be skeptical about offering extensive remote working, however it is trust that is one of the most important factors to making it work. Nick van der Meulen of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, gathered data from 1,450 employees at four public and private organisations that practise working from home to assess the best ways to maximise performance they found that “managers need to offer trust and freedom to get the most from their employees in return. Any failure by managers to offer this was found to be highly detrimental.

For remote working to be successful there must be explicit trust between the individuals and the business.

Autonomy

Remote working will not appeal to everyone. Some individuals thrive in a busy, team environment and enjoy the comradeship and buzz. While others prefer working alone and find this far more productive. For those who don’t enjoy the solitary nature of working alone, remote working can make them feel isolated and unmotivated. In this case, remote working would be detrimental to the individual and employer.

Implementation

Remote working is not an all-inclusive term. You can be a remote worker if you work from home once a week, or you could be completely remote where you conduct all your working hours from an alternative location. As a business owner if the thought of your whole company working from home for the foreseeable future fills you with uncertainty, be aware there are lots of ways to make it work for your business. One size does not fit all. Identify your needs, and those of your team and then fine-tune your flexible working strategy and tailor it to work for your business. It can always be offered as a benefit or on a trial basis and therefore there is scope to amend the set up where necessary as you progress.

Culture

While remote working can offer a host of benefits for individuals, it has to work for the business culture too. Giants like Google and Facebook have famously built their workplace on teamwork and comradeship making is employees don’t want to leave. If that is the ethos of business then remote working might not be conducive to the team. However, businesses that are built on an autonomous culture are able to implement flexible working systems enabling individuals to work where and when it suits them and don’t need them to be in the office.

Progression

Despite the potential of increased productivity – a report found that 77% of remote workers reported greater productivity was achieved.  For individuals wanting to climb the career ladder and reach c-suite heights, working remotely could potentially hinder your chances.  When businesses promote from within, they would naturally look to those who are ingrained in the business. Only the most visible and integrated employees are generally considered. So if you are working remotely you will have to work harder to prove your enthusiasm and dedication to the business and team.

Roles

Most roles and businesses should have the flexibility to be done remotely. However, there are some roles that simply work better as a remote role. In the world of Tech, developer roles are famous for their flexibility and remote nature. Online marketing, social media and digital design are all roles that lend themselves naturally to a remote set up. Jobs that involve managing people, products and more hands-on roles are naturally suited better when they are workplace-based.

Remote working, it not for everyone, nor is it suitable for every business. But there is no doubt that the future of work is more flexible.  Remote workers can provide your business with employees on different continents across the Globe.

They can provide the local market knowledge and expertise to drive your business into new realms. With increased employee retention and productivity, not only will your business thrive but also be more attractive to top talent. For individuals looking for a better work-life balance, remote working is an excellent thing to consider. Remote working doesn’t have to be isolating. When you are part of the right business, engagement and collaboration will be strong no matter where you are based.

Looking for remote working opportunities? Or hoping to join a business with more flexible working? Explore our live roles here or contact our experts to discuss.

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