Remote work isn’t in its infancy stage anymore so much so that it’s taking over many aspects of the workplace. But while it seems like remote work is becoming familiar, there are still a few things that you should know before plunging into it.
The Future of Remote Work
Wide Range of Remote Work Options
The types of workers who fall under the category of remote work have expanded through the years. Of course, homebound workers are traditionally considered as remote workers but their ranks have swelled with the addition of freelancers whose work are performed in different locations; employees who work outside their respective officers for several days a week at multiple locations; and the co-working space workers; as well as the digital nomads. Indeed, a worker who doesn’t stay in the office and doesn’t follow the typical 9-to-5 routine on a daily basis may well be considered a remote worker.
There’s also the changing nature and structure of remote work that companies are scrambling, if not struggling, to keep up with. Take note, too, that the technology used in remote work has fast obsolescence so companies and remote workers that fail to stay updated on the trends run the risk of eating dust.
Numerous studies have also been made about remote work and its impact on the way companies are treating their employees and doing business. An Upwork study, which involved more than 1,000 decision-makers, demonstrates the increasing prevalence of remote work, among other conclusions.
- 63% of the companies surveyed employ remote workers but, surprisingly, only 57% of them have no clear policies on remote work.
- 48% of these companies hire freelancers, an increase from just 43% a year ago, and work performed by freelancers also increased by 168% – and that’s impressive any way you look at it.
The study also revealed that more hiring managers think that brick-and-mortar offices will become temporary places of work and that flexible team structures will be more acceptable. In fact, they also think that remote work will have more influence in changing the workplace than artificial intelligence.
In another study conducted by Imgur, the range of remote work being done nowadays is becoming more varied. These include client services, speech-language pathologists, business development managers, writers, accountants, nurses, and account managers, to name a few. (Just take a look at Upwork and Craigslist for their lists of remote work and these cover nearly everything you can think of.)
And with the increasingly varied types of remote work comes the companies that serve remote workers. There’s Selina, for example, which provides everything that digital nomads need – coffee, quiet spaces, meeting rooms, and fast Wi-Fi connections. Selina offers huge co-working spaces in trendy places, such as luxury hotels, where digital nomads can do their jobs without even reporting to the office, not to mention that it’s possible to change your location whenever you like.
Well, of course, there are companies that have called their employees back into the office and away from remote work. IBM, Yahoo, and Bank of America are just a few of them.
But more workers are considering remote work because of its numerous benefits including a flexible schedule that allows them to spend more time with their families and friends, work at their own pace, and avoid office politics. But flexibility is also a double-edged sword that remote workers should be aware of.
On one hand, remote workers are less likely to experience burnout because of their flexible schedules. On the other hand, they can also feel indebted for the benefit and, thus, work harder to return the favor – and burnout may well follow soon after.
The Need for Creating a Culture of Flexibility
With that said, how can company leaders allow their remote workers to enjoy the benefits of flexibility?
- Manage based on the outcome and skip the observation aspect. As a leader with remote workers on the payroll, you have to let them work at their own pace but you should expect them to deliver on their deliverables, on time, and in the agreed format. Your focus should be on the outcomes.
- Be clear on your expectations, goals, and objectives. You want your remote workers to deliver work “on the mark”, which requires setting clear, reasonable, and time-bound goals. Since you don’t see them in the office every day, you have to set the goals before the actual work starts as well as monitor their progress at regular intervals.
- Give your employees the tools to promote collaboration and productivity, of which there are plenty to choose from.
Remote work doesn’t mean maintaining control over your employees from a distance. Instead, it means being a flexible leader who will still require their people to meet targets and expectations without having to keep an eye on them all the time.