For the longest time, most work could only be done in the office. Employees had to be physically present if they wanted to get their tasks done. Attendance heavily impacted performance reviews and individuals had to settle for the 9-5 if they wished to have any sort of stable income. It was the norm. But COVID-19 came and swept the world, and suddenly, companies were scrambling to adjust to remote work set-up.
However, the popularity of working remotely did not start with the pandemic. For one, tech-savvy millennials began making up the majority of the workforce, and they weren’t willing to get stuck in the office when they could do their job anywhere. The digital revolution just amplified the situation— you can now finish tasks on a laptop, send documents through email, hold meetings and conferences online, and even collaborate with team members from anywhere in the world. All you need is your gadget and an internet connection, and you can start working.
For the most part, companies still preferred having their employees on-site. Remote set-ups were a privilege reserved for more senior employees, or independent contractors and freelancers. But the pandemic has forced companies to shift to remote work if they want to survive.
Now that we’re entering what’s been dubbed as the “new normal”, most companies should start to consider transitioning to remote work. It’s no longer a privilege in an increasingly digital world— it’s the next step in the evolution of the workforce.
What is remote work?
Remote work involves working outside of your office. This can be in any location, such as your home, co-working spaces, or even in other countries. In this set-up, employees use internet-enabled platforms to share files, attend online meetings, collaborate, and talk to other team members wherever they are.
Even before COVID-19, around 7 million Americans were already working remotely. It’s now considered one of the most compelling reasons to accept a job offer. Two-thirds of employees say that losing their remote work privileges will make them start to consider quitting and looking for another position.
Even as the practice of remote work becomes more commonplace, some companies are still resistant to the concept. That can prove to be a bad business decision in the long run. Here’s why companies should permanently integrate remote work into their system:
It reduces commuting time
Reducing the amount of time spent on the commute can provide a significant boost in the morale and motivation of employees. It’s also a big waste of time, whether that’s 30 minutes getting stuck in traffic each way or enduring a one-hour train ride there and back. Allowing employees to work remotely means they can remove the commute from their workday and focus on the task ahead.
It improves employee retention
One of the most significant issues for companies is losing prized employees. Unfortunately, top-caliber employees are less likely to stay in companies that make them unhappy. Endless meetings, uninspiring workplaces, being tied to their desks for the better part of the day, and having to commute every single day are some of the main reasons why good employees start being dissatisfied and eventually quit.
The good news is that you don’t have to break your budget by increasing salary and benefits just to make your employees stay. By offering remote work, you’re also giving your employees the freedom to define their work-life balance. Surprisingly, a lot of employees value freedom and flexibility over salary and can be a crucial way to retain top talent.
Your company gets access to a broader pool of applicants
Many younger employees from the millennial generation and below, immediately write-off companies that don’t offer flexible work set-ups. It’s understandable since this demographic grew up being able to do their work on gadgets and online. On top of that, not only will you be able to appeal to younger applicants, but you can also hire talent beyond your area. You can even outsource tasks to offshore companies or create a global team that’s made up of employees from different countries.
Enjoy lower operating costs
Office spaces are expensive. Costs include rent, work equipment, utility bills, maintenance, security, and other expenses. It’s usually one of the highest fixed costs for any company. Allowing your employees to work from home can reduce the amount of office space that you need to pay for. One way to do this is through hot-desking in which employees only come to the office on certain days.
Create a more tech-savvy team
To be able to work from home, an employee needs to be familiar with a wide array of advanced tools. This includes messaging apps, cloud computing, VoIP, and project management software. This creates a more agile workforce in terms of technology because they can quickly adapt as your company moves up to more advanced tools, equipment, and processes.
It boosts productivity
A recent Stanford survey found that remote workers considered themselves more productive when working at home than in the office. Working on-site can have many distractions such as loud noises, co-workers engaging in small talk, unnecessarily long meetings, and other issues that can prevent employees from working on their tasks.
Remote Work is Not an All-Or-Nothing Proposition
While remote work has tremendous advantages, embracing it doesn’t mean shutting down the office altogether. For instance, companies can designate two days a month when their employees can choose to work from home. You can split the week 50/50 between being present at the office and working remotely. The key is to give it space within your organization and recognize its valuable benefits not just for your employees, but for the company as a whole.
Remote Work: The Future of Work is Here
COVID-19 may have shown a spotlight on the potential of remote work, but its impact on the world of work will remain long past the pandemic. Companies should keep in mind the changing demographics of the workforce— for instance, the tech-savvy younger generation is starting to become the majority. Digital innovations open up more efficient and cost-effective ways to get work done. The ability to adapt to such shifts, which includes remote work set-ups, can spell the difference between thriving or being left behind by the competition.