Remote work has been a growing trend for quite some time. I’m referring, of course, to the practice of having workers who don’t necessarily come in to the company headquarters every day. It’s also known as telecommuting, to acknowledge the fact that these workers don’t come into the office by car or mass transit every day. Rather, they connect to the office by phone, and ever more so by way of the internet.
We’ve spent time questioning the growing popularity of remote work on this blog in the past, but at this point, in mid-2019, there is no longer a question as to whether it’s just a passing trend. A recent study by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com shows that 4.3 million employees, or 3.2% of the total workforce work remotely at least half the time. The same research indicates that 50% of the workforce is in jobs that are viable for remote work, 20 - 25% work remotely as least part of the time, and a staggering 80% to 90% of the workforce wishing that they could work remotely. This is definitely not just a fad that’s going away any time soon. Let’s examine why.
Today’s workforce functions and thinks differently from how things were even a decade ago. Job applicant have become bolder in their expectations and demands for more work-life balance. Spending 8 hours a day or more (plus commuting time) away from home. Telecommuting allows workers to spend more time connected with their homes and families, and eliminates the lost time, often two hours or more a day, that would otherwise be spent commuting to and from the job in rush hour.
You might expect it to be otherwise, and many employers have share the concern: that “working from home” will reduce productivity. It’s an understandable concern, that leaving your staff out of your direct supervision, and letting them work amidst the distractions of their homes and families could result in less work getting accomplished. But in fact the result, generally speaking, is just the opposite. The overall effect of taking people out of the politics and stress of the office, and eliminating the highly stressful commute time tends to result in significantly higher productivity.
Remote workers can be anywhere.
The rise in telecommuting has vastly widened the talent pool from which employers can draw, especially when there is a need for highly skilled workers. If the job needs to be performed fully on-site, companies need to either find workers who live within commuting distance from the office, or bear the expense of relocating out-of-town workers to their area. If the job can be performed remotely, an employer can find candidates with the required skillset, literally anywhere on the planet, and have them operate as a fully functioning member of the staff.