Today’s Remote Workforce

Is Your Company Prepared for the Remote Working Revolution?

  • What Is Teleworking
  • What are the benefits for the Company?
  • What are the benefits for the Employees?
  • Are there any disadvantages?
  • Learn More – information (links?)

What is teleworking?

Teleworking (also known as remote working, working from home, telecommuting or the remote workforce) is the act of using technology to be able to work as close as possible as you would in the office, but from home.

Many firms have implemented this in one form or another in the last 15 years, and these days it’s actively encouraged. In fact there are now many apps and computer programs to help.

We searched online for some statistics, some surveys are suggesting growth as much as 44% over the last 5 years, 91%over the last 10 years and 159% over the last 12 years.

There are many benefits for the company, mostly attributed to happier people mean more productive people.

What are the Benefits for the Company?

Many employees nowadays see remote working as a necessary benefit before joining a company. In order to get the best people on your payroll, it might be one of the differences that makes them decide you are the right choice.

Not all companies will benefit, there are certain sectors that are more suited to teleworking employees than others. For example data-oriented companies, service companies and some smaller call centres are well suited, builders are not!.

Teleworking can improve your productivity, many freelancers who work from home work when they are most productive and work increasingly to an objective (like call 300 people per day, get 5 clients, finish a block of code), as opposed to an 8 hour day.

Teleworkers can be more flexible, increasing hours as the company expands or decreasing hours if the company contracts (let’s hope it’s the former!). Some jobs only require a few hours so the work can be viable for people that only have a few hours per day to spare. This can benefit people such as parents with children or people that only want to work for a few hours per day.

Employees that work from home mean lower operating costs for the company, less light, power, water, carpet wear etc. This might not seem to mean a lot in the short term, but over the year, even a £1 saving per day, per employee, means over £100,000 saving in a company of 300 people.

Teleworkers seem to be more motivated, think about it, after getting up early, getting showered, getting dressed in a stuffy suit, walking to the station, getting on the train, getting through the crowds, getting on the bus and walking to your desk only to see there’s no coffee left, PHEW!!! And all this before you even log into your computer!!

Teleworkers however, get up, get showered, get dressed and they’re ready!! All fresh and focused on the job in hand after 20 minutes.

So it makes sense, working from home is less stressful, making the workforce happy and motivated.

What are the Benefits for the Employees?

Well, read all of the above plus a few more…

Teleworking means being able to live a bit further away from the office, after all, if you’re only going in twice a week, it’s worth the ‘long commute pain’ for just 2 days for a bigger house, in a cheaper (read ‘nicer’) area.

Some teleworkers only go to the office once every couple of months or not at all, so they can live in cheaper economies, by the beach, eating lobster, etc, you get the picture.

Life is much cheaper, commuting every day is expensive, eating lunch outside is also expensive, coffee, beers after work etc. Home life is (normally) cheaper.

Life can also be healthier, picture getting up early, going for a run or walk with the dog, home to drink a home-made smoothie, avocado on toast. THEN start work. The commuter leaves the house without breakfast, grabs a terrible latte on the way and a BLT with brown lettuce and raids the biscuit tin when they arrive at the office.

Studies show that people that work from home are happier, more balanced, more productive. Workers are able to spend more time with their families, taking half an hour out to spend with the kids at the park, helping with the house etc.

Homeworkers are more likely to work when they are more productive, for many of us that’s in the morning, for some it might be when everyone is asleep.

So we are all in agreement, there are many benefits to working from home, but there must also be some negative aspects.   

Are there any Disadvantages?

There are some downfalls to working at home of course, both for employees and employers, here are some of them:

Employers

Much more difficult to manage someone who’s not right in front of you, are they really working, are they where they say they are? (read Facebook shame)

Being more ‘task’ oriented can sometimes mean leaving everything to the last minute and producing less quality work and more quantity work. We are all human after all, if you can look after your friend’s kids for the week and also do your job, seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it’s a reality and you find yourself with no time to dedicate and a list of targets that you may not be able to achieve without cutting a few corners.

Ditto above and lack of discipline, not wanting to work on a Monday because, well, it’s Monday.

Security, security, security. This is (for me anyway) the biggest downfall, security MUST be done properly or you stand to lose everything. We explore in more detail in other articles, but think hackers, theft, spilled coffee etc

Technical faults, lack of decent internet, no access to files etc. Basically instead of one single site to manage, there are various, possibly hundreds. All of which need to be set up, monitored, managed and (very important) disabled or disconnected when the employee leaves. Again we explore this in other articles.

Less ‘connection’ with your employees, less ability to ‘read’ a situation accurately. There’s nothing like a face to face meeting, according to Albert Mehrabian, the author of Silent Messages, only 7% of messages are verbal. His studies show that 38% are through ‘assured vocal elements’ (such as pitch of voice or pauses) and a staggering 55% are ‘non-verbal’.

This means that speaking over the phone to your teleworkers means you are only getting 50% of the story. This can be in either direction, your employee may not be giving you the full picture, read Chinese whispers, or may not get the full gist of the tasks required of them.

So there are many, each of them needs to be addressed, but there are pitfalls for employees too:

Employees

Boredom and distractions (“just taking the dog to the vet”). Working from home is not like ‘being’ at home, it’s easy to fall prey to the occasional distraction such as lunch out with a friend who recently became unemployed, or to pick up the kids. You find you get to the end of the week without hitting your targets and you’re up all Thursday night making up time.

You see less people – seems strange but a lot of people need that human interaction, be it the happy ticket collector or the miserable security guard at the office entrance, we need to see this variety of people every day.

See above in Employers – lack of discipline, for some people it’s difficult to discipline yourself without your manager breathing down your neck. Working from home means you’re the ‘boss’, so you give yourself a deserved long lunch break etc.

Sometimes, and especially if you live on your own, you can get a feeling that the walls are closing in around you. You may not go out for days or weeks. You find yourself in your pyjamas for days on end (hopefully not the same ones).

Sometimes you will feel that you always have something to prove to the guys in the office, especially if you are one of the only ones that are working from home. Perhaps a perceived sense of mistrust by the management that you are not pulling your weight, therefore you do more to disprove this.

One of the major problems, especially if you are working to a target and not just specific hours per day, is that you sometimes find yourself working at 3am in the morning just to finish that last bit of code, or that last article or that last email. When does the work day stop, you have to have a specific start and finish time and stick to it.

Sometimes you seem less connected with your workmates, therefore you have less camaraderie, perhaps less motivation to work in a team. Working in a team can be difficult when the team is not physically together and should be managed with software. We have an article on this subject that you can read HERE.

Remote communication can be a lot worse, slow, for instance if you need something quickly in the office you can just ask across the desk. If you are remote you may have to email, which might take a couple of hours to get a response (especially if the other person is at the vets (see point above)

You will have additional costs in electricity and water at your house.

So there you have it, in other articles we are going to explore some of the psychological effects on teleworkers.

For more information on teleworking you can go to the teleworking society HERE, where you can find more articles.

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