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Remote working is no longer a blurry concept

The way we work is changing.
2 minute read

Whether it is generational, socio-economic, digital or just inevitable, the way we work is changing. The phenomenon of remote working is no longer a blurry concept. It is coming into focus. It is time to rethink our misconceptions and consider why remote working is a growing trend. Perhaps it is time to embrace it or get left behind. 

It feels alien, almost abstract, it’s a dilemma, “…if my employees aren’t in the office where I can see them, how do I know that they are doing any work?” There is a leap of faith to allow current workers to WFH and possibly a reticence to hire fresh talent who are upfront about wanting to work remotely. What will they do all day? Will they do any work? How can I manage them? 

Yes, remote workers do personal tasks during the day

Here is where it gets interesting.  A managers fears in a way are correct. The majority of remote workers will do less work per day! The results of a recent survey showed 64% of remote workers said, “yes, I do personal tasks during my work day.” They pick up the kids, walk the dog, go for a run. Furthermore, 39% said they spend an hour or more of company’s time on personal tasks a day. A travesty surely? But, 70% of employers said they they are ok with that. What is more, that companies thought their remote workers would be spending up to 2 hours on a day on personal tasks. 

To rephrase, it appears employers are happily paying remote workers the same as their office based peers, to do less work. How does that make any business sense? Let’s take a look. 
Remote workers have proved to be highly productive.

Considering ‘work’ in metrics of productivity and performance, 54% of employers said remote workers are “highly productive,” and 59% said their performance was “above average.” In other words, bosses of remote workers feel that their out of office employees are getting the same (if not more) work done, to the same (if not higher) standard. Taking into account what we learnt above, they are also doing this in less time as they complete a bit of life admin along the way. 

One question – why? There has been much research over the last few years into this phenomenon. Nicholas Bloom, the Stanford Economist carried out a 500 person experiment with China’s largest travel agency Ctrip in 2017, and delivered a TED talk on his findings. He discovered remote workers are less distracted by nattering co-workers and office banter. They are less susceptible to the office lurgy or flu on the tube. Not having to get up at the crack of dawn to commute means that they are less tired. They save more money and hitting those necessary personal tasks means they are less stressed. 

Remote working benefits companies too

If that wasn’t enough, it benefits companies too! Bloom found happy WFH employees meant office churn dropped 50%. Managers spent less time and money on recruitment, on-boarding & training. Even the environment wins as the reduction in people commuting into work means less pollution in the air we breathe. Although it won’t be for everyone, it seems remote working is here to stay.

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