Originally published in 2019, we thought this blog would provide great value – and positivity! – to businesses navigating the current situation.
Sure, remote work is mandatory for most of us in the time of COVID, but did you know that many people actually prefer working remotely? And people working away from the office are often more productive – and even happier!
That’s a mighty big leap for a working style that was once relegated to freelancers and those mysterious people in coffee shops hunched protectively over their laptops. It turns out they weren’t just writing the next great American novel - they were working remotely!
What is remote work, exactly? Put simply, it's a working style that allows employees and teams to operate outside of traditional workplace settings, with an emphasis on working from any locale or destination.
Whether part or full time, remote workers can execute their tasks and achieve goals without having to be in one specific place with their office counterparts. More employees are pushing for remote work opportunities, making it a key driver of recruitment and retention for many organizations.
According to Regus, increased productivity and improved work/life balance account for nearly 70% of employees’ reasons for wanting remote work opportunities!
Remote work may not be suitable for everyone, but there’s no denying the need for remote opportunities. While it’s easy to assume that remote workers may be unproductive, this working style is only growing in popularity.
There are six things organizations need to consider regarding remote work before deciding whether they should implement this working style and remote opportunities into their operations.
1. Remote work opportunities are no longer ‘nice to have,’ they’re a ‘must-have’
Organizations can no longer ignore the modern workforce’s demands for remote work opportunities.
51% of employees would willingly change jobs or companies for those which offer more remote options and flexibility, and companies have little choice but to adapt to the realities of how people want to work.
Millennials are perhaps the biggest proponents of remote work, where the opportunity for more flexibility takes priority over other benefits associated with their jobs. Studies have found, for example, that 69% of millennials would trade other work benefits for more flexible work options!
"Millennials are perhaps the biggest proponents of remote work, where the opportunity for more flexibility takes priority over other benefits associated with their jobs. Studies have found, for example, that 69% of millennials would trade other work benefits for more flexible work options!"
It’s not just existing employees that want more flexibility in their work styles, either. More people are searching for roles that allow for remote work! On job search engines like Indeed, for instance, in Canada alone, searches for remote roles have increased by 19% since 2017.
Flexible work styles are also one of the foremost considerations for millennials when pursuing a career opportunity, with 75% of millennials wanting remote work options at least part of the time.
Moreover, in a survey conducted by Buffer, an overwhelming 99% of respondents said they would like to have the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers!
2. Employees aren’t the only groups who benefit from remote work
It may surprise leaders to learn that remote work has its benefits for more than just employees and remote teams!
44% of companies don’t allow any form of remote work, but those that do often experience significant increases in productivity and retention when providing their teams with remote opportunities.
Surveys have indicated that companies that allow some form of remote work experience 25% less turnover, but that’s not all. Agile workers, such as remote employees, are 36% better equipped to meet changing customer demands; provide organizations with 34% more access to a broader range of skills and specialized talent, and offer 36% more general skills and expertise to organizations!
Productivity is also an incentive for organizations when it comes to remote work. OwlLabs conducted a study in which they found that fully remote workers are twice as likely to be individual contributors to their organization than their managers! Similarly, a study by Stanford University points to the benefits of remote work, which include, among others, improved job satisfaction, higher productivity, and an increased sense of autonomy.
Which brings us to our next point…
3. Remote teams are engaged - sometimes, even more than their office counterparts
It may be hard to believe that remote workers can be just as engaged, or even more so than their office-bound counterparts.
However, research shows that employees who have the opportunity to work remotely are not only engaged and connected but sometimes even more productive!
Gallup studies have shown that approximately 35% of those who work remotely at least 20% of the time are more engaged. Meanwhile, 60% of an employee’s time spent working offsite results in higher engagement rates, and 58% of employees feel more motivated when working remotely versus in-office.
Those who have the opportunity to work remotely at least a few times each month are also 24% more likely to feel happy and productive in their roles versus those who have no opportunity to work remotely or from home.
Remote work may also promote the opportunity to do what employees do best. For example, Gallup reports that employees who work remotely are 31% more likely to strongly agree they have the chance to do what they do best, every day!
4. Remote workers are productive (seriously!)
Remember we mentioned remote work and productivity? Well, it turns out that remote employees are not only engaged but also productive! In a 2018 study of Canadian remote workers, Indeed found that 90% felt they were more productive when working remotely.
In that same study, 65% of Candian employers agreed that their employees were more productive when able to work remotely!
"Surveys have indicated that companies that allow some form of remote work experience 25% less turnover."
Other studies of Canadian remote employees support these stats for productivity. As of 2017, for instance, approximately 47% of Canadians work remotely, with 54% reporting they work remotely to improve productivity.
From a global perspective, organizations can expect similar results and benefits regarding remote productivity. Udemy performed a study in which they found that 40% of employees report more flexible or remote work options would help with work-related distractions, while 52% find remote work allows for more productivity.
Further, though work/life balance remains a critical factor in employees’ desires for remote work options, the number one reason is productivity and focus, according to recent studies of global remote workers!
5. Remote work is the way of the future
At the outset of this article, we mentioned that remote work is steadily on the rise, evolving from a trend to a mainstream practice for a range of companies across a myriad of industries.
Many organizations are moving towards remote working styles to provide their employees with the freedom and agility they need to accomplish their tasks outside of common work environments.
Randstad predicts that, by 2025, approximately 32% of company work models will include remote work. Looking even further into the future of the workplace, other studies like those from Upwork predict that, by 2028, 73% of all working teams will be working remotely!
Remote work can be advantageous to many organizations and their teams, but we may be inclined to think of remote work as a practice relegated to startups or mid-size businesses. On the contrary, remote work can be employed by enterprise companies, as well! Global Workplace Analytics has found that employees working for Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are working away from their typical office environments 50-60% of the time.
That’s a significant amount of time spent working remotely!
It’s not just millennials that seek out more remote or flexible work options. Remote workers also include those considered to be ‘Baby Boomers,’ meaning employees over the age of fifty. Both younger and older generations of the workforce are demanding more remote opportunities from their organizations, and those same organizations are employing millennial teams to recruit and plan how their working environments will function with this working style in mind.
Upwork discovered that, as hiring managers grow increasingly more millennial, 69% of these young managers are more likely to allow their teams to work remotely. Those same millennial managers are 28% more likely to utilize remote employees than leadership from the Baby Boomer generation.
This may not come as a surprise, however, to those with their finger on the pulse of workplace trends and planning. The World Economic Forum has frequently reported on remote work as one of the biggest drivers of transformation in business operations of companies around the globe.
"Randstad predicts that, by 2025, approximately 32% of company work models will include remote work."
That may be why more managers and leaders are focusing their attention on retention and the future of their workforces; in particular, 52% of young managers rank future workforce planning as a top priority, especially in regards to managing remote and flex teams.
By proactively designing their organization’s workplace operations with remote work in mind, managers and leaders are taking into account the engagement and productivity of their teams! Engagement is critical for remote teams; overall, 60% of employees feel that managers and leaders are responsible for implementing engagement strategies.
6. Remote workers might just be happier, both in their roles and in general
Aside from the obvious benefits of remote work, such as agile teams and increased productivity, a myriad of research also showcases how job satisfaction, well-being, and overall work ethic improve when employees can work remotely.
A National Institute of Health study, for instance, revealed that remote workers report feeling less stressed and more satisfied with their jobs and thus less likely to quit - good news for organizations concerned with retention! Studies from PGi indicate much the same, where 82% of remote workers feel less stressed by work-related tasks and responsibilities.
That stat, in particular, is notable, given work-related burnout is one of the more significant drivers of turnover. Deloitte’s research has found that 84% of millennials experience frequent burnout while at work, while half of millennial employees have left jobs due to burnout.
Yet, when working outside of traditional workplace environments, 70% of employees report feeling healthier. Remote work may be the answer to many organizations’ ‘prayers’ for retaining top-performing yet burnt-out employees.
There’s also something to be said for the connection between healthier, happier remote teams and how they feel about their organizations. For example, 87% of remote workers feel more connected to their organization thanks to remote tools and practices and are 27% more likely to agree they have the materials and equipment they need to do their work versus office-bound employees. Moreover, a study from Harvard showed that 87% of remote workers actually felt more connected.
"A study from Harvard showed that 87% of remote workers actually felt more connected."
Thanks to collaborative tools, remote teams can remain connected with both their leaders and colleagues, anywhere, anytime. Regus notes that 86% of remote workers use instant-messaging tools like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack, while 50% of employees use platforms like Google Drive and 60% use tools like Skype.
Not every organization or employee will find remote work compatible with their needs or working styles; after all, remote or flex work is not a one-size-fits-all style. However, companies would be hard-pressed to find an employee who isn’t even remotely curious in remote work opportunities.
By taking into account how your people work, and how it impacts their productivity, leaders and organizations as a whole can make more informed decisions about the implementation of remote work possibilities!