​The Remote Possibility

It is no secret that remote work is carving out a niche in the workplace worldwide. It isn’t just a generally accepted phenomenon either, but a topic of many studies by academics, news organizations, businesses, and government agencies.

Seeing as how the author of this article is a fully-remote worker herself, this article will give you the lowdown on remote working straight from the telecommuter’s keyboard, as it were.

There are overwhelmingly positive insights into how job flexibility impacts the market from various sectors, not just from a company perspective but a worker’s one as well.

Increased Productivity

Productivity is a common concern (some might even say obsession) for companies and working professionals alike. In the face of so many distractions like social media, meetings, team tension, cellphones, tablets, video games, family concerns, and traffic – it is no small wonder that we worry about how much work we can actually get done.

According to www.surepayroll.com, employers lose an estimated $1.8 Trillion a year in lost productivity every year because of a lack of engagement with the job, financial stress, chronic health problems, and so on.

86% of working professionals polled by the site above said that they preferred “working alone to maximise productivity”. So if we feel we produce our best results on our own, it makes sense that productivity increases in a remote work setting.

As a remote worker myself, I feel very much engaged with my work as it has been distilled into the essentials: deliverables and collaboration. Seeing as how I only have these two avenues to make a positive contribution to the company I’m working for, doesn’t it make sense to capitalise on the opportunity?

Improved Wellbeing

Stressors like office politics, braving traffic to getting to work and braving worse traffic to get home, the lack of time, energy, even desire for exercise and mindful eating, the lack of time for partners and friends and the eventual decline of intimacy, the neglect of children and elderly parents seeking connection with you – all these are supposed to be part and parcel of a healthy working life, yet somehow remote work makes being a working professional seem way less bleak.

Office rivalry can be shelved, or better yet, turned positive if you see your output as a way to put your coworker in his or her place. It doesn’t take as long, or as much out of you to go to your computer and start your work. You don’t necessarily need traditional office hours as long as deadlines are met. You stop working when you complete tasks rather than when the clock strikes 7:00, leaving you with so much more time on your hands to go about what makes you happy, interested, fulfilled, healthy, loving, and so on.

Consistency, Stability, and Reliability

In a study by www.globalyworkplaceanalytics.com, it has been found that 46% of companies that allow remote work say that it has reduced attrition. 95% of employers say that remote work has a high impact on employee retention. 78% of employees who call in sick usually aren’t – but do so because of family issues, personal needs, and/or stress. On a telecommuting program by the American Management Association, there was a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences.

Working remotely gives you flexibility, and it seems that this is what people want out of a professional arrangement. No need to quit because it’s such a chore to get to work. No need to be unproductive if you’re sick. You can’t technically be absent unless you miss a conference call, Skype meeting, or deadline. You can deal with your own issues on your own time and not worry about work getting in the way of that. As a result of having flexibility with their time and responsibility for their output, it seems that stability is created because of a personal initiative to be consistent and reliable rather than an external requirement to show up and look busy.

Employer Standpoint

It isn’t surprising that these positive things for the employee greatly benefit employers as well.

One company who was considering remote work found that remote agents closed 30% more contracts that the traditional agents the year before. Customer complaints decreased by 90%, and their turnover reduced by 88%.

IT giant IBM was able to slash real estate costs by $50 Million with the advent of remote working. McKesson reports savings of $2 Million a year. Sun Microsystems reported that its 24,000 US employees participating in the Open Work Program avoided producing 32,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide last year by driving less often to and from work.

Regarding the positive aspect of remote work, it seems as if there are few downsides if at all to considering being a remote worker or starting an open work program in your company. But as always, there are obstacles that telecommuting must encounter and hopefully resolve to get the full benefit of an efficient remote working arrangement. For example,

75% of managers say they trust their employees, but a third say they’d like to see them just to be sure.

It’s not for everyone; for some social needs must be addressed; telecommuters must be self-directed, and comfortable with technology

Career fears of stagnating, or halting professional growth arise; employees believe that if they are “out of sight, out of mind” they will be forgotten or passed over for promotions and responsibilities

Some managers feel that distance inhibits rather than encourage collaboration; they look for the “energy in the room” when crisis occurs

Double taxation; some cities, most notably New York, impose taxes on home-based workers whether or not they work in the city. For example, a New York company who employs a remote worker from Connecticut owes taxes to both States

Drucker, Six Sigma, and other management experts agree that goal setting and performance measurement is the key to successful management. For telecommuting to be effective, remote workers should be measured by what they do – and not where or how they do it. With the constant advancements in technology, particularly in communication and collaboration, remote work might even become more prevalent than traditional work – but its success (or failure) depends on the worker.

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