Location independence through remote work
Start your workday not at a fixed workstation in the office, but at home, in a coffee shop or co-working space? Manage virtual collaboration via digital tools? Work only when you are most productive? For many companies, remote working is already part of everyday operations.
At the latest since the Corona pandemic, this form of work has become an unstoppable trend. It promises a better work-life balance, more productivity and a flexible working day.
Remote work means working on one’s own projects or business independent of location (e.g., as a web developer), completing jobs for a client, or working as an employee of a company. This flexibility in the choice of working environment is made possible by the Internet.
The 4 most important benefits of remote work
What many employees really want is not a work-from-home job, but rather the advantages of location-independent working. They want to work where they feel most comfortable and productive, be it in the office, in a co-working space, while traveling, at grandma’s or in another country.
For a company or employer, this means that distance can be eliminated as a hiring criterion. This allows them to work with the best talent without having to worry about where they live or relocation costs.
The concept of remote working also strengthens employee retention. Nowadays, older employees who are offered the opportunity to work remotely are more likely to take up the chance. They have the opportunity to move to the place where they plan to retire later and work from there. This way, they can continue to use their expertise and experience for the benefit of the company and pass it on to younger employees.
Benefits of remote work: There are various reasons why employees prefer remote working:
1. Work from anywhere
The office environment is often not the best workplace for all workers and jobs. A work setting where employees feel comfortable, relaxed and focused leads to better results, higher productivity, greater job satisfaction and less stress. The same goes for planning the workday. If it’s easier to get work done in the late evening or early morning, remote work can be combined with flexible hours.
2. Save money
When employees work from home, they can save a lot of money that they would otherwise have to spend on commuting or lunch. It also leaves more time to prepare healthy meals or exercise. The net gain is a healthier, less stressed and more prosperous employee. Reducing commutes is also good for the environment. But it’s not just employees who save money. It’s also true for employers. Thanks to remote work, companies can save on rent, furniture, electricity, heating, air conditioning and water.
3. Work when you’re most productive
While most work-from-home employees have traditional work schedules, those who work location-independently don’t need to be available at a specific time, they just need to get their work done. This can be done in their time zone and according to their individual work schedule, which has an extremely positive impact on employee morale and engagement. A remote employee who canoes in the morning and works late into the evening is most likely very happy to have this flexibility at their job. Such employees are often more engaged and satisfied with their work and therefore enjoy increased productivity.
4. Take care of your personal life
Remote jobs are allowing employees to focus on their family and private lives. Being able to adjust ones working hours to a flexible schedule often means the world to families, and it also makes sense if you have a partner or live alone. The ability to put personal matters first and work virtually without a physical presence in an office space often results in a huge productivity boost as well. No employer should view this as time wasted. In fact, allowing employees to take care of their personal business first means time savings.
The 3 disadvantages of remote working
1. A matter of tools
When it comes to remote work, it’s almost entirely a matter of having the right tools. Tools like video calling, chats, social networking, and a collaborative intranet for easy information and collaboration are essential. Without any of these basic tools, it becomes fundamentally difficult to work efficiently and productively. Even when the right tools are available, remote workers risk missing impromptu discussions, important whiteboard sessions and informal chats.
2. Can be distracting
Working from home can be extremely distracting. Even a coffee shop or a tropical beach in the Caribbean can be distracting, of course. Remote work requires self-discipline, a strict schedule and a sense of responsibility to stay focused and get the job done. This can be a challenge for some employees, and not everyone finds it easy to get into work mode, no matter where they are.
3. Salary negotiation, networking and promotion
The less time employees spend with colleagues and supervisors at work, the more difficult it becomes to negotiate salary and convince supervisors of their value. Supervisors have a harder time assessing employees when they are only in contact via email, phone and video conferencing and may not even know each other in person. This applies to the entire team.
Reasons why remote workers can perfectly match their work-life balance
The boundaries between personal life, workplace and working hours are less defined in remote working.
This has the advantage of greater flexibility and self-determination. Remote work can also be done on weekends and after business hours, while private matters can be handled during the “normal” working day. This can lead to higher productivity and economic growth for the company, as work can be done when one is most efficient. It also improves the balancing of family and career.
In addition, many employees are generally less stressed when working remotely. There are no strict office politics, as is often the case in a traditional office, such as a detailed dress code or not being able to leave the office space until the boss does too.
Saving time that would otherwise be spent on the daily commute can also bring many benefits: Apart from reducing the individual carbon footprint and the emission of greenhouse gases overall, employees can use the extra time to take care of their well-being and work on their career goals, for example.
Many remote workers enjoy having full control over their own time instead of their employers. Of course, they also have to get their work done and to deliver when they work remotely. But they can do it at their own pace, and sometimes that means doing more work one day while spending more time with family and friends the next.
Benefits for employers who hire remote employees
The advantages of a remote workforce for employers: more productive and satisfied employees and lower costs.
Remote working saves employers a lot of money – for example, in the provision of workstations, resource consumption, overhead costs and personnel costs. Satisfied employees are also sick less often. And last but not least, thanks to video conferencing, fewer business trips and travel costs are incurred, and job seekers who live far away can be hired remotely.
How companies can successfully implement remote work
The remote work model comes with many current and future challenges. Many employees complain about the visibility of their performance, more work and poor career opportunities. In addition, many workers would like more support from superiors and better work equipment. The risk of social isolation also frequently becomes a problem in the “remote work world.”
Companies must therefore create the right conditions for their employees to reap the benefits of working remote. These include:
- A comprehensive analysis of company processes and employee tasks in terms of their suitability for remote working
- The provision of appropriate technology that meets the latest security standards, such as mobile work devices that give employees the ability to access corporate data
- Training existing and hiring new employees on the skills needed for remote work (self-organization, etc.)
- Establishing, communicating, and modeling clear policies regarding remote work hours, accessibility, decision-making processes, and use of devices
How to stay productive while working remote – 4 tips
In order to establish a normal workday, it is important to create structures for oneself during remote work, such as scheduled meetings with colleagues:
- Create routines
For most workers, a flexible schedule is the best part of working remotely. However, without preparation, focus and set routines, chaos quickly ensues. Having goals and organized tasks will help counteract this and work productively on a remote office job.
- Create a schedule for the day
A separate workplace and fixed working hours create a clear separation between personal and professional life. Remote employees should stick to their own working hours and also communicate these to their team and anyone living in the same house.
- Communicate clearly
When in doubt, colleagues should always call each other instead of sending messages. Virtual tools like Zoom, Skype, Slack and many more allow them to share the screen so the person on the other end knows exactly what they’re talking about without a lot of back-and-forth emailing.
- Create a feel-good workplace
Having a dedicated workspace is extremely important for productive remote office work. Having one’s own desk in a quiet area of the house is important for concentration and mental transition from personal to professional activities.
Even with remote work, a clear structure of the workday is important in order to plan tasks and achieve set goals. Daily rituals, such as fixed lunch breaks, help with this, even without a fixed work place.
How to take care of mental health with a remote job
Even if working from home or the beach all the time sounded like a great idea at first, the reality is sometimes tougher than one might imagine. It’s not uncommon for remote work to lead to unhealthy working conditions, psychological stress and restrictions for many workers.
For example, many remote workers feel pressured to prove they are actually working. Remote work brings unique challenges that differ significantly from working in an office environment. As a result, many employers wish to provide some stability for their workers. They could support them with the following offerings, for example:
- Openly communicated updates (tailored internal communication channels and content to keep all employees informed and up-to-date at all times)
- Remote events (e.g., digital coffee breaks, where employees are randomly paired weekly to encourage cross-departmental networking)
- Open Q&A sessions to ask questions
- Open conversations about psychological health and the opportunity to talk about one’s personal difficulties
- Collective online sports (e.g., a Monday morning dance)
It is very important for team leaders and managers to learn how to provide feedback to employees who perform remote work. Supervisors need to take more time in digital meetings to ask, “How are you (really) doing?”. Experiencing a person in the office and being able to see their mood, body language and facial expressions usually makes it much easier to empathize with employees. This is why efficient communication and the right soft skills are so important when working remotely.
While remote workers enjoy a better work-life balance, generally have more freedom, and infrastructure costs are also reduced, the downsides are that there is no face-to-face contact with team members, sometimes there is a lack of access to information, it can also be the case that people feel isolated.
– Improved employee experience
– Increased productivity
– No limitation by geographic location
Remote workers enjoy freedom and flexibility, can save time when they don’t have to commute, and generally have more peace of mind in their workplace.