Is Remote Working the New Normal?

 

Between March and April of 2020, users of the Microsoft Teams application surged by 33 million users. This unprecedented growth, demonstrated in the chart below, was mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IMG_20200514_050824

Source: Statista

While the rise in remote workers is hardly surprising given the circumstances, it does raise an interesting question. Is remote working the new normal? 

Modern Technology Supports Remote Workers

The pandemic has accelerated the move toward a remote working model. The business world had, however, started embracing telecommuting models long before 2020. In the last ten years, remote working increased by 91% in the United States alone. 

The internet, and particularly advances in cloud-based technology, have fueled that growth. Cloud-based collaboration services such as Google Docs and Slack make sharing information quick and easy. 

Video conferencing apps like Skype and Zoom have made it easier to conduct “face-to-face” meetings virtually. 

Finally, time-tracking software, such as Hubstaff and Quickbooks, has made it easy for employers to ensure that employees spend their time productively.

Remote Working Improves Productivity

Changing workplace attitudes favor offering employees flexible schedule options. Research in now shows that working from home increases productivity. Remote workers put in an average of 1.4 days more than their office-bound counterparts.   

Contrary to common belief, working from home improves productivity because: 

  • Employees face fewer distractions, like office gossip and intrusive phone calls.
  • The model allows employees to create a better work-life balance and, consequently, improves employee satisfaction.
  • Employees don’t waste valuable time or money commuting. 
  • By structuring their days, employees can take advantage of their most productive periods.

Flexi-Time Options are Seen as a Significant Job Perk

In many industries, employees demand that flexi-time options be made available to them. For companies to remain competitive in the job market, they must keep pace. The concept of the traditional nine-to-five job is fast giving way. 

In industries that can accommodate flexible working hours, the importance is shifting to how much work’s done rather than when it’s done. 

Businesses Realize the Benefits

Hiring remote workers allows businesses to draw on a global talent pool. They may opt to outsource work to reduce staffing costs. Firms also save on infrastructural expenses, like office expenses.

Not All Business Models Translate Well for Remote Working

Naturally, there are some cases where this model won’t work. In the retail industry and some entertainment industries, for example, there’s no substitute for personal interaction. A professional escort, for instance, won’t be able to phone in companionship. Retailers will also always need employees to manage a walk-in business.  

Final Notes

As a general rule, office work translates well into a remote working model. Thanks to technological advances, it’s possible, and even beneficial, for firms to allow telecommuting. Remote working won’t suit every industry, but it suits enough to ensure its place as the new normal. 

Employees benefit through a better work-life balance. Employers enjoy lower costs and increased productivity. While there are some challenges to teleworking that businesses must address, there’s no going back now. 

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