Despite the practice of remote work being around for two centuries, lots of modern-day firms object to it for fear of employees being waylaid by distractions, time mismanagement, and productivity lapses. To top things off, Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work survey on remote worker responses mentioned the downsides to remote work. The top three included battling loneliness, the inability to unplug from work, and being in a state of “forever hustling”.
Most managers vacillate between micromanaging and expecting everyone to be self-starters and doers. The truth is, neither option works long-term, whether you’re running a collocated or distributed team. The trick to managing high-performance teams that are remote lies in your own intuition on when to lead, take a step back, or delegate.
Remote work hinges on a higher degree of self-sufficiency. In an office setting, you have different people to turn to for help, be it troubleshooting an IT glitch or prioritising task lists. Those who work from home, however, have to tend to all these things themselves besides their actual work.
If you’re facing upfront objection from your office on working remotely, here are some facts that can help set the record straight;
A. Cost savings
The average cost of corporate real estate, infrastructure set up and hiring talent is significantly reduced. For example, Sun Microsystems saved $68 million a year in real-estate costs alone, while the figure hit $50 million for BM. on an average, real-estate savings with fully-remote companies is $10,000 per employee per year. This is a boon for the startup economy who operate on tight budgets and can’t afford permanent overheads till their cash flow stabilizes. Even companies with deeper pockets can save millions with remote work.
B. Reduced employee absenteeism
Employees who work from home are less likely to take sick leaves and unplanned absences than ones who commute. In fact, 43% of American workers want to continue working remotely even after the crisis passes. The reason attributed to this is that employees can have time to socialize with family and friends without compromising on professional commitments. For instance, working parents need not take a full day off to attend a Parent-Teacher Association meeting. Or a caregiver can continue to work without the guilt-trip of their personal commitments eating into their work-life. They can plan work to fit around a single schedule and regulate breaks.
C. No tardiness
No more using excuses for coming in late or leaving early! While it helps to standardize virtual meetings and categorize them as daily stand-ups, group brainstorm sessions or 1:1s, you can be rest assured that everyone will be present and accounted for. No one will hold up the meeting with the excuse that they were stuck in traffic. Remote workers can decide on work times that suit them best, particularly if they are located in a different time zone. Together, you can predetermine a calling hour to check in on them for work updates.
D. Recruit top talent:
Remote work diversifies your resource pool and lets you tap into skills without having to bear relocation and accommodation expenses for such workers. To put it more precisely, you’re working with global talent. Such a workforce can even help you access opportunities in new markets, especially those in client-facing roles like business development and lead generation. With their insights on user movements and purchase behavior locally, they can fill you in on what is missing and enable you to capture demand. You gain momentum in the market with the knowledge of the reception towards your product line or service. Furthermore, they can refer professional acquaintances to your company, serving as a secondary channel for sourcing hires down the line. For one, there’s the trust factor. You are familiar with the person you hired, and the next new hire comes recommended by them, meaning that you already have an idea of the profile to size them up accordingly.
E. Increased Productivity
The average remote worker works 1.4 days a month more than an in-office worker. Studies reveal that even though the length of breaks taken by a remote employee is 22 minutes longer, they also work an extra ten minutes a day on average. Remote workers are more productive because they are more aware of the clock and in better control of the distractions.
That’s not to say there aren’t distractions when working elsewhere, only that you’re in a position to address it with the right remote team management tools proactively. For example, you can mute background noise when you’re making a call, with applications like Krisp.ai. A now-famous experiment conducted back in 2013 by Nicholas Bloom on a Chinese firm proved that remote workers were 13% more productive. To top it off, a separate report surveyed American Express workers, who produced 43% more than their office-based counterparts. An uninterrupted home office environment helps workers deep-focus on work. They can apply productivity hacks such as the Pomodoro technique or Pareto law, to make sure that they’re always aware of what they are on and can cross more tasks off the list as they go along.
While it may seem like we’re just throwing figures around, it’s a fact that remote work benefits both employees and the businesses that employ them. It lets you recenter your budget around what really matters, such as aligning your workforce with the business strategy and spending more time on the right opportunities. The key is to cultivate a culture conducive to remote work, one that puts workers, work and tools into the core of the company.