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Working Remotely: More Efficient, or More Distracting?

By Danny Moscoso   |    November 6, 2015   |    9:39 AM

Working remotely makes it easier to get work done whenever and wherever you are. But is it a more efficient way to work? For some people including freelancers and creative types, it’s the only way to work because it frees those individuals up to pursue their passions and unleash their talents. However, some middle managers believe that working remotely creates more setbacks because employees working at home are more likely to be distracted by food, the television, personal calls and other domestic interruptions that usually don’t come up in an office. Instead of debating the issue in an age when working remotely has become a standard practice, let’s take a look at the conditions under which remote workers thrive.

Working Remotely Works if People Have the Right Job

Unfortunately many people measure success in terms of financial compensation. Instead of taking a deep look inside to see where their passions and talents merge, most people only look at the number of zeroes in a salary offer, and subsequently spend years of their lives trapped in jobs they didn’t necessarily seek out.

The “right job” for most people is the one that lies between what they like to do best, what they do best, and what contributes value to an organization. That is an employee’s sweet spot. By extension, employees with greater job satisfaction, less stress and improved performance will work harder and better at their jobs—regardless of whether they are physically present in the office.

Working Remotely Works in Technology-based Small Businesses

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about Google or Oracle here. Technology has gotten cheap enough that small businesses can adopt dynamic and powerful remote work technologies cheaply and efficiently. Whether it’s sharing documentation changes on Google Docs, creating a conference call with other team members on Skype or sharing workflows and deadlines through Wrike, the technology exists to help small businesses achieve success across all teams.

Where this doesn’t necessarily work is in brick-and-mortar retail or production businesses where it is not optional for people to work remotely. Let’s face it: when it’s time to make the bagels, someone has to show up at 4 am to turn on the oven, lay out the production line, dunk the bagels and cook them up for the morning commuters. (We suspect this is why there are no good bagels in San Francisco. Someone is trying to think up ways to make them in the cloud.)

Successful Remote Employees Are Inherently Organized

There are good reasons why some remote employees work well, and others fail. The good ones are the employees who integrate systems of organization into their work process so they are better equipped to streamline their workflow. If your processes are organized and your desktop is identical whether you’re in the office or on a plane to China, it doesn’t matter where the employee is working. Strategic organization—and giving employees enough “white space” to implement it—can pay off tenfold in productivity for a small business.