Notes From the Road

What Companies Are Getting Wrong About Remote Work

Though remote work is becoming more common in corporate environments, there are still misconceptions surrounding this lifestyle. As leaders in the remote work space, we are breaking down a few of these myths and explaining why remote work works.
Remote work is not just having a moment. Employees are searching for positions that will offer them location flexibility along with their traditional benefits. To put it simply, they are eager to work for companies that value their time offline just as much as they value their time online.

Generations of employees are coming to the realization that when they are fulfilled in their personal lives, they are more effective in their professional roles. Remote work offers this to them.

As remote workers, they have the ability to travel, to take a class that expands their professional skillset and to care for their children without worrying about adhering to a strict in-office schedule. The freedoms created by remote work allow them to live their lives in passionate and effective ways, which in turn encourages them to make their professional time as productive as possible.

It is becoming more common for companies to offer location-independence to their employees, but there are still misconceptions surrounding remote workers. Stereotypes like pajama-wearing employees working from bed and a lack of commitment to the company culture still persist.

As leaders in the world of remote work, we know that these misconceptions simply aren’t true. With enough education and resources about working with remote team members, any organization can implement this flexible work concept successfully.

Are Remote Workers Productive?

When you are thinking about offering location-independent working opportunities to your employees, the first thing that you’ll be asked is whether employees will be able to get as much work done when they are working outside of the office.

To this, you can confidently say ‘yes’. In fact, you’ve experienced this working style yourself. You’ve answered emails on your phone in the back of a taxi, wrapped up a project at your dining room table after your family has wound down for the night and utilized the WiFi on an airplane to finalize a presentation.

This is a way of life for a remote employee.

Employees that work remotely are also less prone to distraction caused by random interruptions that can come from an open-concept office. One study featured in the Harvard Business Review even showed that employees completed nearly an extra day’s worth of work each week while working remotely. Just think about how much that adds up to in a year!

To put it simply, employees who are inspired by their surroundings feel more passionate about the work that they are doing. That passion translates into better work from the employee, which results in greater returns for the company.

Does Remote Work Make Communication Difficult?

Even though remote workers are not physically “in the office”, they are members and leaders of teams that need to meet deadlines and produce great work. How are they supposed to coordinate with their coworkers who may be in the office or similarly remote?
The answer for many location-independent employees is to meet over video. Video meetings allow coworkers to interact with a more human element than regular phone calls, and allow for discussions rather than back-and-forth conversations via email. In fact, 92 percent of remote workers think that video collaboration fosters better teamwork, according to a study by Polycom.

Are Remote Workers “Always-On”?

Just like an employee that works in the office, remote workers require downtime to recharge after a day of productivity. Although they are not necessarily tethered to the “9-5” schedule of a traditional office environment, they work as many, if not more, hours as they do within the office.

To ensure that remote working works, it is important that managers work with location-independent employees to determine when they will be considered “online” vs. “offline”. This often comes in the form of setting “base hours”, wherein a remote employee must be reachable during a certain timeframe, but can decide if they would rather start their day earlier or work further into the evening depending on the timezone that they are in and when they are most productive.

Do Remote Workers Cost More?

In actuality, having remote employees can save a company money. On top of savings due to increased productivity and better work, companies can reap the rewards of decreased overhead costs.

Although the company will initially need to provide its remote employees with the necessary equipment and technology, they will see a reduction in their overhead costs for line items such as their office’s rent, furniture, and utilities. According to Flexjobs, employers can save $22,000 per remote worker per year.

Are Remote Workers Unhappy?

Employee retention is a key reason why companies are jumping on board with remote work. Because location-independent employees have more flexibility and are inspired by their environment, they are inevitably more content with their position - and their happiness contributes to an improved bottom-line.

While some worry that working remotely inhibits employees from becoming fully integrated in the company culture, the opposite is often true. Employees who work outside of the office tend to reach out proactively to build relationships with their coworkers. Companies that want to foster an even closer connection between their employees can schedule times for new hires to periodically “grab coffee” over a video call with a coworker to get to know one another and provide opportunity for non-work-related conversation.

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