Remote work came into the global scene as we entered the 21st century, coupled with an upsurge in digital innovations. After the worldwide pandemic of early 2020, remote working experienced another wave of popularity like no other, not just out of preference, but out of necessity. It has now come into the forefront of the way we work and do business.
Remote working has become part of the “new normal” in the market workplace as traditional workers shifted to working from home due to lockdown orders. In fact, 88% of enterprises asked their employees to work from home, and 91% of working teams in the Asia Pacific region resorted to remote working arrangements in the height of the pandemic.
But before the global crisis, 41% of remote workers were opting to do freelance work permanently. Being able to work outside the company’s primary location and having a choice of the work environment were critical factors for many job seekers. How much more now that the world is still recovering from the Covid-19 virus that has claimed so many lives.
What is Remote Work?
Remote work is being able to work outside fixed a business location or a traditional working environment. Known also as a virtual job, telecommuting, teleworking, mobile work, flexible workspace, and work-from-home, this kind of work arrangement gained popularity in the 1970s. Several people during that time chose to work mainly from home and communicate with the company by email, telephone, and other means of communication.
Remote working became a pop culture in the 1990s as more people lived by the idea that “work is what we do, not where we are.” With the internet becoming more mainstream and mobile devices becoming more and more efficient, remote working became more plausible for more types of jobs, especially digital-heavy tasks like programming, IT, design, and the like.
Why Choose Remote Working?
- Small business owners are twice as likely to hire full-time remote workers. Because business owners can now hire the best talents in the world at a fraction of overhead costs. The rise among home-based workers, remote workers, co-working space workers, full-time freelancers, and digital nomads creates a new dynamic of functionality in teams.
- Businesses are saving on OP EX (operational expenses)
Amidst the pandemic, businesses can that continue to operate through remote teams have a shot of staying afloat. These businesses can even begin to thrive amid the global crisis that has driven so many businesses to close.
- Relevant work set-up for changing times.
Prior to the pandemic, remote work was already growing. Traditional work set-up has could no longer meet the demands of workers battling modern-day challenges. These challenges include extreme traffic, remote location, keeping work-life balance, managing young-aged children, lack of daycare, health concerns or physical limitations. Social or political unrest is also another factor why people may want to work from home. Health crisis and safety management are now part of that growing list.
- Adapting career choices for future work opportunities
Workers on labor-intensive jobs, for instance, needed to rethink career strategies to adapt to the new normal. Some brick-and-mortar stores also brought their businesses online. We also see other businesses restructure or repurpose the nature of their business. It is either to meet the current demands of people now, or so their businesses can function during the pandemic.
That is why most college hopefuls and high schoolers are starting to rethink strategies for their future. For example, it will not be a surprise if more IT-related courses that can lead to software developer jobs that have high pay even for freelancers.
- Desire to work for the best employers for better work experiences
The opportunity to work for employers that were once inaccessible for most is now a possibility as well. Even big-name companies who used to avoid work-from-home arrangements currently operate on this set-up.
As a result, more and more professionals are desiring remote work for better job opportunities and work experience.
5 Ways Remote Work is Affecting Work & Business:
Indeed, we cannot deny nor stop the evolution and explosion of remote work. Here are ways it has revolutionized work and business:
1. Remote work brings flexibility to work.
Remote work enables employees and freelancers to complete tasks with flexibility. Through technology innovations and improved internet networks, remote work is more efficient than ever.
Talents from developing countries and small villages now have the platform to prove their skills and expertise, even to international clients.
Time is an asset, and work flexibility has given better handling, management, and use of it. The backward impression that remote working can diminish time management and productivity is not accurate at all.
Remote work also lessens a worker’s expenses. They not only save on travel expenses but also manage food expenses better as they do not have to eat out. They also cut costs in clothing allowances and other non-essentials. All these savings can now be directed to better equipment, more stable internet connections, and upskill training.
Remote work also benefits businesses. In a study made by Owl Labs, remote workers would stay in a job for the next five years, especially if they can keep working remotely. But 55% of remote workers, according to the same study, will most likely look for another job if they cannot work from home.
Some remote workers feel indebted to their employer for the benefit of this flexibility that they feel the need to give back. Workplace culture is where remote work will also affect how we do business, which leads us to our next point.
2. Remote work provides a different way of doing things.
The culture of a typical business environment has a focus on “seeing is believing” regarding how one manages both office-bound and remote workers.
Most managers are more comfortable when they see that you are working at your designated desk all day. For environments like this, rewards and incentives are usually meant for office-bound workers.
But managers must be able to give tools for remote productivity and collaboration. You cannot just introduce remote work without addressing the very culture that remote workers must co-exist with.
A worker’s physical presence may not be within the vicinity, but the productivity of that work should be proof of the worker’s existence. “Seeing is believing” is suitable for a typical office environment without remote workers.
The inclusion of remote work as part of your company will demand a shift in your company’s work culture. Remote workers need trust. The (perceived) busyness of an employee will not be given as much focus because productivity and outcome get the limelight.
Create an environment that relies on results more than hours rendered. Let remote workers with the right expertise provide solutions in different areas where needed. Establish a culture of encouragement that caters to remote workers and mitigate the effects of social isolation.
A recent analysis called Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker revealed that North America performed 77% of its operations remotely. It experienced a 23% increase in productivity, but mostly because of Canada. The United States experienced a 7.2% productivity decrease.
NordVPN also discovered that the length of the average workday has increased by almost 40% in the US. It means that Americans may be working three hours extra per day but are being less productive despite the added hours.
You might blame remote work for this decrease, but because their North American counterpart, Canada, experienced remarkable productivity increase, we need to look for the real culprit in productivity drop. We need to note that the United States experienced the most devastation in terms of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Europe also experienced sharp drops in productivity in Italy, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Germany. But because Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden experienced high increases in productivity, it offset the drop, and Europe registered 8.2% in productivity since shifting to remote work.
The world is not out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic. The hope is that these drops in productivity will change. As the world heals in all aspects, the vibrancy of work will resume as well.
3. Remote work opens risks to social isolation.
Being able to have more time with family is one of the advantages of remote work. But this also diminished the boundary between home and work.
Remote workers are finding it harder to unplug. Most remote workers also work more than one job for better salaries and opportunities. It is typical for a remote worker to go beyond the needed number of hours, take fewer breaks, and take fewer days off their vacation time.
So, before the pandemic that calls for stringent social distancing measures, social isolation was already a risk for remote workers.
For this reason, businesses are advised to include remote workers in their corporate events, even via video conferencing. It is truer now, as everything is now done through video conferencing as we wait for things to get back to normal.
Although this will not replace physical interaction, it helps foster team unity for all your workers. Maintaining group chats, use collaboration tools, and using online messaging boards to keep communications open and support remote staff-relationship building.
4. Remote work demands high-performing team managers.
As mentioned earlier, remote puts a higher demand upon managers. Results and outcomes will be the focus instead of an employee’s busyness. Managers sometimes tend to give remote workers were given responsibilities beyond the job description or project details to compensate for the lack of physical monitoring, which is not reasonable.
Owners or managers must be able to set clear work expectations and responsibilities for the remote worker’s protection.
5. Savings from overhead expenses.
As mentioned, the company’s overhead expenses are lessened significantly because of remote working. The company will be able to save much money on office space rent (usually located on prime real estate), electricity costs, office equipment procurement, and other utility bills.
Business owners can also save up on devices and software purchased and installed because these expenses are shouldered by remote workers. In fact, productivity tools such as Microsoft Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365 experienced an increase in sales since parents are not the only ones going remote but also their children that are doing distance learning.
Depending on the arrangement between the employer and the remote worker, these expenses can be included in the remote worker’s pay. It can also come as a separate expense shouldered by the company.
Expensive server set-ups and maintenance costs are also lessened because the remote workers take charge of maintaining their equipment. Automation software increased in sales as well, as businesses had looked for touchless solutions to adapt to remote work set-up.
Conclusion: Remote Work is the New Normal
Whether people revert to traditional working set-up after the pandemic threat, there is no doubt that remote working is here to stay. It is part of our new normal and will even continue to increase.
As communication technologies continue to improve and develop, it will help remote workers provide quality services. As businesses move forward, virtual teams will become ideal in today’s workforce.
There will be a greater emphasis on work output, the excellence of communication, and quick feedback within the workforce rather than hours rendered.
Remote work is here to stay. It will continue to broaden its grip on the global economy as modernization continues to permeate the workplace, breaking traditional work parameters, breaking new ground on more flexible ways to earn a living in this digital world.