Remote work is an idea that has likely occurred in the mind of every office worker during lengthy commutes, early day starts or traffic disruptions. During such days, for many the freedom of working from the comfort of your couch, or substituting rainy Northern European winter for a coworking spot by the tropical seaside looks very appealing.
Yet, however, most of the country still raises well before the time they would otherwise choose to, to make it to the office at 9 am, struggling through the rush hours and traffic jams. Does that mean that remote working is still unaccessible for most, or just a fad, made up by millennials in their constant search for new meanings? Or is it an actual new way of working, which is not employed by more companies because of inertia and unwillingness to change the old ways?
What is remote work exactly?
There is still a lot of misconception regarding what remote work exactly is. While some may imagine the idyllic image of a sunbathing worker answering his emails in the sun bed in Bali, others might have a less picturesque image of someone stuck in the four walls of his apartment with no one to talk to or ask for guidance. While both these options are indeed possible scenarios for remote work, they are just two of hundreds.
One of the key advantages of remote work is that people can choose to work in such a way which benefits the most to their lifestyles. This can be done in a great number of ways – working from home for some of the days and coming to the office for face to face meetings for the others, working from home, co-working space, nearby cafe, hotel lobbies, other people’s homes (S2M for locals), or hitting the road to work from the world’s most picturesque spots.
Trends in remote working.
While the question whether remote working works for them is still unanswered for many, the stats show a rather clear picture of how the future of work is changing in general. Remote work is on the rise – between 2005 and 2015, remote work increased 115%, going from 1.8 million telecommuters to a whopping 3.9 million in the US alone. For many upcoming companies flex work is not just a nice extra perk certain selected employees can enjoy but a way of living. For example, one of the tech latest unicorns, Gitlab, currently valued at more than €1 billion dollars, has employees in 45 countries and zero offices – all of their operations are completely distributed. The existence and success of such companies prove that remote working is a viable alternative to the traditional in-office structure.
On the other hand, recently a number of companies, such as IBM, Yahoo and Best Buy, decided to pull back to the office their remote workforce. It can be argued that this decision to the overall difficulties with the organizations’ management. However, currently many companies consider an important value collaboration, and collaborative effort still often relies on face to face communication. Whether that is an issue which can be resolved with the development of communication technologies, we are yet to find out.
Remote work – how and why.
While entrepreneurship and freelance are two obvious flex-work-friendly paths, with the technological advancement working for a company remotely becomes more and more common. That doesn’t mean just tech companies – you might be surprised to see the growing number of education, marketing, sales and financial services positions available remote.
A reason while remote work is appealing for many is that it offers a more flexible lifestyle, which allows to combine non-work related activities and family commitments. Also, it reduces stress levels in employees – commute-related stress level alone is reduced by 55%. Moreover, flexwork allows to further foster trust in the employer-employee relationship, as an employee gets remote almost full control of structuring and performing its work and an employer receives extra time resources, freed from constant supervision.
In conclusion, remote work is surely establishing itself more and more firmly in the job market as a whole. From being a prerogative of just tech startups and freelancers, it’s spreading to more industries. It is still a long way for remote work to become a default option and in some areas not feasible yet, but it is certainly a solution which contributes to the development of work/life balance, reduces time wasted on lengthy commutes and unproductive office communication and increases intrinsic motivation of employees.
However, one of the best and easiest ways to connect and collaborate still remains an interpersonal communication, which is facilitated by face to face contact. Therefore, even the most proactive advocates of distributed teams and remote work are finding it productive to occasionally bring its workforce together to facilitate innovation, connectedness and feeling of belonging.
One of the ways for a company to connect with remote work is by opening up its free facilities to co-workers from outside of their company. S2M has been allowing this kind of collaboration for many years with the help of our software. It allows to connect co-workers and the company they work at, showing their skills and experiences and allowing both parties to understand and share the ways coworking and remote working can be used in modern day organizations.
Article by Kamila Ishalina