Remote working has been an option for some time, but it took a pandemic to make it mainstream. With so much buzz surrounding remote work, we thought it’d be a good idea to talk about how to make remote working work for you.
How can employees and employers alike leverage this new way of working? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about working remotely, including what it is, how to do it, the benefits of remote work and tips for making remote working work for you.
What is working remotely?
Remote working happens outside a company’s office or traditional workplace. It can be at home, a library, a co-working space, a café, an airport, a park or a holiday resort. Of course, the most popular remote setup is to work from home. But you can remote work from anywhere you like.
Remote work has taken a definitive place in working culture. Right now, 58% of all Americans work from home at least once per week, and 35% can work from home a full five days per week. But, perhaps most significantly, 87% of employees will take the opportunity to work from home when offered, illustrating how much remote work has become a desirable option for employees.
How do you work remotely?
Remote working is all about flexibility. The goal is to find the working environment that’s best for you.
Working from home might be the most popular option because it’s easy to turn a corner of the kitchen, living room, or den into a part-time office. In addition, many people have dedicated home offices.
Co-working spaces are popular with people who prefer a more conventional working environment and anyone who has a noisy home. And, of course, many people switch between working at home and using co-working spaces.
Libraries are great quiet places to pop into without having to pay for a co-working space. Cafés make things a little more interesting but can be distracting. Cars, hotel rooms and airport lounges are tried-and-true remote working hubs for road warriors and business travelers.
You can truly #WorkFromAnywhere when you work remotely. All you need is a reliable internet connection and an environment that you can focus in and is professional enough for the odd conference call or videoconferencing meeting.
Fully remote companies are also emerging. An all-remote company is one where all of its employees work from their own spaces. There’s no office for workers to go to, and there might not even be physical headquarters.
Back in 2018, 16% of all global companies were fully remote., and that number has only grown. As more well-known enterprise companies like Zapier and GoDaddy have made the switch, experts predict more small-to-middle-market companies will follow suit.
Even more companies, like LinkedIn and Spotify, consider themselves “remote-first,” in other words, they prefer their employees to work remotely but provide them with co-working or part-time in-office options.
Working remotely doesn’t mean toiling away in isolation or missing out on company culture. Technology is a fantastic way to stay connected with teammates, co-workers, supervisors and other colleagues. That’s why around 56% of remote workers use online platforms to keep in touch with their co-workers.
To keep company culture flourishing, many companies like to schedule video meetings and check-ins. Some places like to do virtual games, challenges and other team-building exercises. And some even like to meet up in person from time to time.
Every company has its own remote working culture. If you aren’t fond of yours, remember that you can also choose to spend time working with friends, find a more outgoing co-working space, or even adopt an animal companion.
Is remote work the future?
Working from home is incredibly popular. You don’t have to deal with a commute fighting traffic or traveling on public transportation. Instead, you can work from your comfort zone, spend more time with loved ones and have a better work-life balance.
It’s probably why 87% of Americans who have the chance to work from home seize the opportunity. And companies are increasingly committed to offering remote work. In fact, 40% more American companies offer remote work options than pre-pandemic.
Microsoft is one of those companies. It had a mandatory work-from-home policy at the height of the pandemic. Since then, it has switched to a permanent hybrid arrangement that prioritizes remote working with a limited in-office workforce.
People love having the flexibility to work from anywhere they choose. Ken Matos, VP of Research at Life Meets Work, said, “People today really value workplace flexibility and remote work because it allows them to focus their energies on work and life as opposed to commuting or other complications due to geography.”
Remote working isn’t just for those who prefer it. Many companies attempted to force employees back into the office once pandemic restrictions were lifted. However, the Great Resignation and ongoing Covid-19 waves subverted those ideas.
In an interview with ZDNet, Mark Lobosco, LinkedIn’s VP of Talent Solutions, said, “Now that companies have built the framework – and experienced the cost and time savings associated with it – there’s no real reason to turn back.”
Corporate culture was already shifting to include options that prioritized the work-life balance. However, Covid-19 forced corporate culture to change across the board. And those changes are here to stay. As a result, the future of work is remote, hybrid and flexible.
The benefits of working from home (or a coffee shop or a co-working space)
Everyone benefits when employees have the flexibility to work from home – that means organizations, workers and the wider community all benefit from more flexibility. Here are a few of those benefits.
Benefits of working remotely for employees
Let’s start by looking at how working remotely benefits employees.
Better work-life balance
Workers who go into the office devote a lot of time, energy and money to commuting, preparing or buying meals, making childcare arrangements and getting pet sitting. When you work remotely, you can save on those expenditures and redirect them where you wish.
You can use that extra time to sleep in, fit in an early morning workout, or prepare healthy home-cooked meals. You can use break times to hang out with family members, walk your dog, or take a quick power nap.
What’s your working style? Do you focus better with music playing or in complete silence? Do you prefer to work outdoors or inside with the AC on? Do you like it blazing hot in winter and super cool in summer? Are you okay with sitting on basic office chairs, or would you rather curl up on your favorite sofa or splurge on something ergonomic?
Remote working gives you the freedom to control and adjust your environment. As a result, you can work in the best conditions for you.
A recent study found respondents with flexible remote working reported better mental health than employees without workplace flexibility. The biggest mental health culprits were feelings of anxiety and depression caused by general workplace stress.
Commuting, office politics and interpersonal relationships are the most directly stressful parts of working in-office versus at home. Remote working is ideal for anyone who wants to skip all of that and focus purely on the work.
But you also have to factor in your ability to care for yourself. People with the option to work from home usually take better care of themselves. They sleep better, eat better, exercise more and meditate more than workers without that flexibility.
More choice of jobs
Working remotely puts the world’s career opportunities at your fingertips. You just have to speak the right language, have the qualifications and be willing to match their time zone when needed.
Or how about relocating as a digital nomad? Many remote working professionals are moving to places like Mexico, Portugal, Bali, or other exotic destinations while staying with their work organizations.
Remote working is perfect for anyone who needs a flexible schedule, has to break up their working day, or has ongoing obligations. Parents love it, as does anyone who’s had to fit in a banking appointment or important errand during standard working hours.
Some organizations still have strict working hours for their remote working employees. If so, you have to stick to that. However, there is still more flexibility during break times.
Benefits of working remotely for employers
Until the pandemic, remote working was relegated to a corporate sub-culture. Not all organizations were convinced about the benefits, and many employers wrote it off as something for entitled millennials only. But they quickly came around after experiencing the benefits for themselves.
There was a long-held misconception that remote working would lead to laziness and time theft. That’s not true. Productivity actually increased when people switched to working from home. People working from home waste less time in meetings, take more responsibility for their schedules, complete more work out of personal choice and view their work as more worthwhile. They’re more focused and responsible.
Employees report being more productive than before the pandemic. And their employers have noticed. Mark Zuckerberg discussed this in an interview with The Verge. He said, “The thing that’s been positively surprising to people is that people are more productive working at home than people would have expected. Some people thought that everything was just going to fall apart, and it hasn’t. And a lot of people are actually saying that they’re more productive now.”
The boost in remote work productivity came as a surprise to everyone – employees, economists and employers. It’s a permanent phenomenon that employers and workers are happy to take advantage of. Perhaps that’s why the July 2022’s WFH Research data shows employers steadily offering workers more and more remote days.
Enabling business continuity
Business goes a lot smoother when employees can work from anywhere. Having remote workers on staff and digital infrastructure in place ensures business continuity. Workers who are slightly under the weather often feel fine enough to work from home. And those who have to self-isolate for a few days can keep things going.
In short, business continuity is a lot simpler when the company is digitized and location independent.
The remote work option is a must-have for attracting top talent. Job seekers value autonomy, and working from home at least part of the time is high on the list for knowledge workers. In fact, remote and hybrid work opportunities attract seven times the applicants than similar in-person roles. And workplace flexibility is a top reason why applicants accept new jobs.
Failing to provide this can lead to workforce losses. Recent surveys found that 54% of office workers would leave a job for one with more flexibility. Another survey found that 58% of remote workers would leave their job if they no longer had the remote option.
Enable a better work-life balance
People are over the idea of pouring all their energy into a job – with zero time for themselves and no work-life balance. Self-care is in, and working from home is the best way to find that balance.
Remote employees enjoy yoga, fresh food and meditation time. They can relax in their own space during breaks and have a bit more time to themselves. They can catch up with their children, friends and colleagues.
It’s also fundamental for attracting millennials. Millennials are the least engaged working cohort, have the most turnover, experience the lowest levels of well-being and highly prioritize their work-life balance. As a result, they thrive in remote and hybrid working environments.
Protect the environment
Remember those pictures of nature taking over abandoned streets and urban areas once lockdowns were enacted? Nature made an instant comeback once people retreated into their homes. Carbon emissions fell, air pollutants dropped, and environmental noise pollution decreased.
We can extend those environmental benefits by switching to a location-independent, #WorkFromAnywhere culture. Corporations can do their part to protect the environment by allowing employees to skip the twice-daily commute by working from anywhere.
Early adopter Xerox slashed 41,000 tons of its emissions by having 11% of its employees work from home. Likewise, Dell’s work-from-home employees save 6,700 metric tons of emissions every year simply from not commuting to work. Of course, there were increases in residential power use during the pandemic. But those spikes were positively balanced by a large drop in industrial energy consumption.
Ultimately, for companies looking to slash their environmental footprint, allowing remote work is one easy way to do it.
Widening the talent pool
Corporations are seizing the opportunity to source talent without the restrictions of geographic boundaries. Remote work enables them to hire from anywhere and retain a pool of flexible, distributed workers.
Zuckerberg mentioned this benefit in his The Verge interview. He said, “ One [advantage to remote work] is access to a wider talent pool. There’s an advantage to opening up more widely. The advantage is not just on the recruiting side — it’s also on the retention side. A bunch of the people who leave the company, who are good people who we would want to keep — they leave because they want to move somewhere that we don’t support. So remote work will help us retain those key folks, which in a lot of ways, is better than having to recruit a new person. So on both sides, it will help us access more talent.”
However, it does make employees more vulnerable to poaching. It’s getting competitive out there. Let the best offer and corporate culture win.
Boost employee engagement
It may seem counterintuitive that a remote setup increases employee engagement and happiness. But that’s exactly what happens. According to recent research, remote working boosts employee engagement, happiness, loyalty and retention. In fact, employees working from home are 20% happier than in-office employees.
Reduce real estate costs
Corporate real estate and operating overhead costs represent massive expenses. Companies can reduce real estate costs to nil by switching to remote work. In fact, companies who switch to hybrid working reduce their total real estate costs by half!
7 Top tips for working remotely
Now that you know all the remote working benefits – here are some tips for making remote working work for you.
1. Find the right space
Find the sweet spot between comfort and focus. The best remote working environment will help you stay calm, alert and productive. Play around with ambient noise levels and make sure to get enough light. It’s best to have an ergonomic workspace with enough room for all your tech and supplies. It’s a good idea to have water nearby.
2. Set a schedule
Set a firm schedule with boundaries between work and personal time. Then stick to it. This improves focus and can reduce interruptions if you have a family. It also prevents you from feeling like you’re always on the clock. Remote workers can easily end up working more hours than they should simply because they don’t have a clear schedule.
3. Get Dressed
Wear professional attire to prevent feelings of slovenliness and stay motivated, confident, polished and sharp. It’s important to dress in a way that fits your job role and future goals. Consider checking out business casual for outfits that are formal but comfortable.
4. Plan breaks
Schedule breaks and take them. You don’t want to end up pushing through the entire day without taking enough time away from work. You might even schedule activities to do. For example, try going for a walk, doing some yoga or checking in with a friend. Taking breaks will help increase your overall productivity.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Make sure to stay connected while remote. Communicate with your supervisors, colleagues, teammates and other cohorts. Many companies run organizational or team-based group chats. This can be a great place for general discussions – but always keep it professional and clean. If in doubt, err on the conservative side.
6. Adjust your communication style
Not everything translates over text, phone or even video conversations. So, watch out for sarcasm, jokes and vague hints. Be very clear in your communications and provide enough contextual information. Don’t assume that people know what you’re talking about or are on the same page as you.
7. Ask for support
Tell your colleagues when you need assistance. Remember to communicate in a way that’s clear and detailed. Don’t expect people to know what’s going on or what you need. Don’t wait too long to bring something up. And don’t snip at anyone when bringing things to their attention. It’s much better to have frequent, proactive communication – than delayed and highly frustrated conversations about what’s gone wrong.
Bonus tip: use Outstaffer.com
If you’re an employer looking to level up your company’s remote work, consider using Outstaffer.com’s #WorkFromAnywhere technology to #HireFromEverywhere. We enable you to hire, pay and equip remote employees from around the world in just a few clicks.
With our managed devices, employee time tracking, real-time employee monitoring, 24/7 support and EOR platform, we give you everything you need to overcome the limits of your local talent pool and take advantage of the benefits of remote work. Schedule your demo today to learn more.