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Work Remotely and Travel

Flexibility is our Secret Superpower: Greg Caplan of Remote Year

Future of Work 2018 is bringing together policymakers, HR executives and technologists from Fortune 500 companies, startups, agencies and non-profit organizations who are interested in understanding how the workplace and workforce are changing.

Future of Work Summit 2018 has been filled to the brim with innovative discussions, illuminating ideas and the types of talks that make your brain light up with the thought of what the future could bring.

Greg Caplan, the CEO of Remote Year, put his own twist on the concept of the future of work during his keynote speech on April 24th. Here were the key takeaways:

Flexible workplaces are the future

It’s no secret that the workforce is extremely competitive. With highly-qualified candidates continuously searching for a position that fits all of their needs and provides them with professional satisfaction, it’s important for businesses to keep up with workforce trends. One of the major shifts that Greg brought to light was the need for flexibility. The best job seekers want to work where they want, when they want, how they want on what they want. These top performers want control over their lives and the careers that sustain them.

To this point, remote work has become a major discussion for many businesses and employees over the past few years. As flexibility becomes more important for the lives of employees and their managers alike, businesses are allowing workers to work from places other than their traditional corporate office. Greg shared that 51% of people report working at least part time remotely and as many as 31% of people are working at least 80% of the time remotely. We’d call that a trend in the right direction.

If remote work creates more happy, committed employees, then why aren’t more businesses jumping headfirst into this new way of working? Behind a connection to “the way things have always been done” lies a deeper truth that not many want to admit: the traditional 9-5 is built on mistrust. Being able to see someone working at their desk does not mean that they are more productive than someone who is working outside of the office. When people are required to show their face in the office for set periods of time each day, they are incentivized to actively waste as much of the day as possible. In fact, Greg said, 93% of remote workers report being more productive when working remotely.

Another piece of the puzzle that holds businesses back from implementing a remote work policy? They think that their culture will suffer if employees are not working from the same space every day. As the leader of a fully-distributed company, Greg had a few pieces of advice for how to cultivate and maintain a positive and productive workplace culture, even through a computer screen:

Create a succinct mission and a guiding set of values

Spend some time considering what your company’s core values are and use them to create a mission statement that speaks its purpose. If each employee knows that they are working toward the same goal, they will feel a sense of camaraderie and understanding even if they aren’t sitting beside each other in the office.

Video calls are king

Video calls can be even more intimate than in-person meetings if you set the standard and build the right culture around them. Encourage participants to stay off mute and turn their cameras on so that everyone stays engaged.

Real relationships are built outside of the office

If the majority of your company works remotely, it’s still important to create opportunities for coworkers to have real experiences together through different activities. This could be anything from a community meal to an offsite retreat.

Technology is changing the workforce

Society has become reliant on technology for connectivity and productivity which has allowed businesses to expand in ways that they couldn’t have imagined just twenty years ago. Global companies have thrived in this new world, foregoing traditional means of communication and buying into the idea that productivity could - and should - be moved to the cloud. Digital tools to manage your team, organize large scale projects and automate daily tasks are as normal in today’s organizations as fax machines, landlines and a mailroom were in businesses of old.

While some modern businesses hesitate at the thought of letting their employees work from wherever they choose, many global enterprises don’t have to think about it twice. With offices already around the world, they are used to the coordination that it takes to run a fully-distributed team. Technology is their secret weapon. They use chat services like Slack and project management services like Trello to keep things organized and up-to-date, making sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Finally, technology has the power to automate many basic tasks. By taking busy work off of employees’ plates, businesses who employ technology to their advantage are allowing their team members to focus on creative work that only a real human brain can do. Greg put it like this, “In a knowledge economy, the best people can be 10x better than average, instead of 10% better as in an industrial economy.” As technology continues to evolve, this capacity for employees to pursue innovative work that keeps them engaged will only grow.

Flexibility is the key to attracting talent

Once you have a workplace that embraces flexibility, you not only get more out of your existing team, but most importantly it opens up a whole new world of amazing candidates to attract. Think of it this way: 99% of the best talent doesn’t live within 25 miles of your current offices. Greg gave this personal anecdote to drive the point home, “Our team is distributed across the world.  Remote Year’s Head of Experience is in Singapore, our Head of People Ops is in Nashville and my home base lately is in Mexico City.  We wouldn’t have been able to recruit these amazing people if we didn’t open our minds to anywhere in the world.”

This flexibility of location and mindset will drive the way that we view the modern workforce. We are no longer confined to work in our geographical location, nor are we resigned to hire candidates just because they’re within driving distance. Our minds are open to the possibilities that technology affords and we are keen to see how we can encourage our employees to offload routine work and broaden their professional perspectives to focus on work that requires creativity and intellection. This is the future of work - and we’ve never felt more ready to take it on.

Join the #RYFOW18 conversation on Twitter! Send any questions you may have to @RemoteYear and we’ll be sure to find you an answer from the wealth of talent at the event. We’ll also be hosting live Q&A’s with some of our guest speakers on Facebook. We hope to see you there.

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