The times when workplace used to be a traditional office building are long gone. It is being widely projected that approximately half of the U.S. workforce will soon operate remotely, it seems hard to believe. The truth is that this is not a random assumption; these are not the words of an aspiring digital nomad trying to get more statistics to sway to their side. It was an article published in the Forbes Magazine by Samantha Radocchia, which goes on to say that workers are ready to wake up extra early to work with internationally-placed teams. These workers can, by dint of scheduling their breaks and recharge hours strategically, work more than the usual 8-9-hour work-days, and sometimes don’t shy of clocking 12 hours of productive time. That is a sure sign of increased workability, in favor of a remote workplace getting the best out of an employee.
In a similar vein, Niraj Chokshi writes for The New York Times about how there is a golden mean to be found. It is not remote working 100% of the time, but workers who see their teams more than 60% and less than 80% of the time, which translates to 3 or 4 days out of the work week have the best possible engagement with their mates.
Sound backing by management theory explains the anatomy of trust
These statistics are from the developed world of work, but they do not lie about the very essential parameters against which professional success is measured. A slew of organizational research in the context of remote working corroborates the Two Factor Theory proposed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in the year 1959. The factors of workplace satisfaction, according to this theory, are dependent on a list of hygiene factors, as well as motivators. In the case of remote workers, an employer who backs an individual to work remotely is, in effect, showering the worker with a unique blend of hygiene factors as well as motivators. By showing the employee that he/she is allowed to manage his/her own schedule and trusting them to deliver on deadlines, the employer shows confidence, thereby recognition of the worker’s time management ability and dedication to the job. The recognition and trust showed count as the motivators, and the relaxation in company policy (to allow remote work) is seen as a hygiene factor. This can, organically, lead to an increase in productive work and the presence of satisfaction, in addition to a notably low or total absence of dissatisfaction.
When an employee reads an employer as a trusting, motivating factor, there is a firm trust established in return. Such a worker would need more reasons than simply better pay or promotions to be led away by a competitor trying to headhunt. In effect, there is a readymade loyalist for the company that has allowed some bit of relaxation of policy to engender a better work-life balance for the worker. A study by Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK found that remote workers are able to participate in household chores and domestic activities better than their full-time working counterparts, and this leads to better satisfaction among spouses and families.
Loyalists for the company would do everything within their ability to be more accountable. They would set up reminders, check with their teams by being available for communication, and generally work towards getting projects done on time.
Possibilities galore for trend-setting companies
This is a win for the employer as the company now has a wider talent pool to recruit from. Where local candidates are not the best fit, professionals from other cities can join a team remotely and deliver projects to the satisfaction of employers. By drawing in talent from a wider pool, there is the possibility of extending work hours. A company might soon be able to call itself a 24 x 7 business, with employees from different time zones logging in to keep the business hours virtually endless. By the same coin, it also brings in cultural diversity, which can prove invaluable to a company that hopes to enter new markets. The possibility of expansion can be laid in by finding remote talent before operations start in full swing. The World Economic Forum calls the trend of working from home to be one that is set to drive transformation.
The final argument for remote working that works out to the benefit of companies in any economy is the savings in real estate and operational costs. Companies are often plagued by unexplained, unauthorized absenteeism and an increased number of late arrivals on the part of employees. These sunk costs are remedied when an employee has the chance to work from home on a given task.
The savings in terms of logistics are also considerable. A notable example is the Aetna, a company which downsized office space of 2.7 million square feet to save USD 78 million in real estate costs.
Handling innate challenges effectively
All these glittering examples are by no means one-sided. The company in question has to face challenges in employee engagement and erratic behavior, but it becomes better positioned to retain good workers and motivate the ones with lagging spirits by offering them the option of working from home. Even the challenges mentioned can be effectively countered by creating a healthy blend of remote and in-house work options. Another concern is the lack of technical support and tools that facilitate working from home for professionals of some industries. Improvement of training and remote support systems is an area of opportunity to ameliorate the overall sustenance of businesses.
The findings of a Trades Union Congress Survey in the United Kingdom report that the trend of remote working is here to stay; the workforce settling down to work in a home environment is stronger by 20% when the figures of years 2005 and 2015 are compared. It is conclusive that the trend is sustainable too, given that avoiding the commute and physical/logistical demands of a workplace is also favourable to the ecological balance. Companies which take the pains to treat employees like accountable, responsible adults, reap rich rewards for the trust shown.