The very nature of work life is changing. In the past, it was typical for employees across a huge range of sectors to come into the office at 9 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. That was the standard, and few people questioned it. Then, technology advanced, making it feasible.
Now, the rise of remote work has created new options and opportunities for businesses and workers alike. In fact, it is now possible to see the remote workforce as an alternative to traditional staffing.
A popular option
To appreciate the impact that remote work can have, it’s first necessary to consider how popular and widespread this approach has become. A recent survey from the Global Leadership Summit found that more than one-third of respondents believe that at least half of their companies’ full-time employees will work remotely by 2020, Fast Company reported. What’s more, 2014 saw a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings relative to the year before, according to Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Sara Sutton Fell.
Partially, the growing embrace of remote work is due to its popularity among younger workers. Speaking of millennials, Adam Kingl, director of learning solutions at the London Business School, told Fast Company that flexibility “is the number one reason they’re attracted to a workplace.” For these workers, such flexibility is “a criterion that people are expressly looking for before they’ll sign on the dotted line. It’s not a perk or reward.”
Obviously, businesses would not be willing to accommodate these worker preferences if they thought that remote work would cut into employee productivity or had any other negative impact on the company as a whole. However, there’s a great deal of evidence suggesting that the opposite is true. Remote employees tend to work longer hours. Additionally, remote work eliminates many of the biggest roadblocks to productivity, including distracting office environments and demoralizing commutes.
A shift to remote work can save businesses a tremendous amount of money. With fewer in-office personnel, companies can turn to smaller physical spaces, which cuts down on rent. Similarly, the smaller number of in-house workers will result in lower energy bills and other utilities.
Furthermore, remote work strategies allow companies to widen their search for new workers, rather than being restrained by the local talent pool.
Making remote work
With all that established, it’s easy to see why remote work is increasingly popular. But that doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to deliver excellent results for every company. To be an effective, viable option, the remote workforce needs to be approached in the right way.
The most important factor to focus on in this area is communication. As iT1 explained, remote workers need to be able to reach out to and collaborate with their coworkers, managers and executives just as easily as if they were in the office. This can only be the case if communication is a priority.
It’s also worth noting that companies do not need to necessarily move their entire workforce to a remote arrangement. Instead, firms can benefit by embracing remote work in certain key areas. Notably, many companies are turning to contact centers that are fully supported by remote personnel. Handled properly, a contact center staffed by remote workers can be just as effective as an in-house contact center, or even more so, while providing all of the additional advantages discussed above.