Remote Work: Benefits and Best Practices
Remote working has been shown to offer big advantages when executed under the right circumstances. Here are some of the benefits, along with tips for successful remote work-days.
Examining the Research
Although they're constructed to promote productivity, office spaces tend to come with all sorts of noisy distractions. For this reason and countless others, more and more businesses are allowing their workforces to tackle projects off-site.
Studies have linked this movement to better job performance and satisfaction, thanks to a number of key benefits. In its report Work without Walls, Microsoft polled over 4,000 workers in the retail/hospitality, financial, manufacturing and professional services industries. Among other things, surveyors asked the participants to list the top benefits of working remotely. The top responses included:
60 percent - Better work/home balance
55 percent - Saving on fuel expenses
47 percent - Avoiding traffic headaches
45 percent - Increased productivity
44 percent - Fewer distractions
44 percent - Avoiding long commutes
43 percent - Quieter atmospheres
38 percent - Less stressful work environment
29 percent - More quality time with family
23 percent - More environmentally friendly.
Unfortunately, according to the Microsoft report, many business leaders resist the idea of remote workforces, because they fear their employees won't work as hard without oversight. In reality, however, evidence suggests that workers are actually more productive when they work off-site:
Best Buy enjoyed a 35 percent jump in employee productivity after switching to a flexible work program.
The Chinese travel website Ctrip experienced a big boost in productivity when half of its contributors were allowed to telecommute.
Researchers from ConnectSolutions determined that 77 percent of remote workers achieved more in fewer hours due to fewer interruptions related to conversations, meetings and noisy colleagues.
Dozens of studies show that telecommuting boosts performance, job satisfaction, productivity and overall life satisfaction, according to Assistant Professor Michael Boyer O'Leary of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
Still, while the data appears to paint remote work as a godsend, its effectiveness isn't a given. According to the Association for Psychological Science, success depends greatly on how remote work is executed, based on the needs of individuals and organizations.
Making Remote Work, Work
When it comes to working off-site, experiences can vary depending on the circumstances. Some people are more suited to remote work than others, and some jobs just require more face-to-face interaction. At the same time, there are other factors that can either aid or inhibit remote work, including:
Challenge: Poor communication with colleagues
Solution: Good collaboration tools such as Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype.
Challenge: Distractions at home or in public settings due to a lack of dedicated work space
Solution: A well-equipped virtual office
Challenge: Low mood and depression related to excessive isolation
Solution: Co-working spaces that allow remote workers to network with other professionals
Challenge: Slow or non-existent diffusion of in-house company knowledge
Solution: Cloud-based scheduling, memos and collaborative software
Challenge: Turning "off" work when operating from a home office
Solution: Scheduling more time to work outside the home in virtual office spaces
Again, not everyone is suited for remote work, and not every circumstance guarantees a successful off-site experience. By making some smart choices about how they work, however, professionals are able to increase their chances for success, whatever the setting.
Intelligent Office provides private virtual offices, along with fully-equipped coworking spaces that allow professionals to work and network according to their unique schedules. Contact our office to learn how our business solutions can help you reach a higher level of success.