Over the past three months, the way we do business has changed dramatically. Nearly every non-essential worker has been working from home. While we initially believed it would be temporary, it’s looking more like these changes will be the norm even after the pandemic has passed. With that in mind, let’s consider what we already knew about remote working prior to Covid 19.
“Look at those who’ve succeeded with remote working, and it becomes clear that it needs two things to thrive, and both boil down to good communication.” – Nigel Davies, Founder of Claromentis.
A recent Zapier study of US knowledge workers (people whose work does not require them to be on-site for customers or production etc.), working primarily in a professional setting using a computer to do their job, found that 95% wanted to work from home. 74% would be willing to leave their current job for the opportunity to do so, and 26% have quit for a job that does allow it. Another Forbes-cited study in
UK found that 71% of workers that have the capability to do their job remotely also wanted to work from home, citing better work-life balance, greater productivity, reduced transportation costs and time consuming commutes etc. Surprisingly, over 30% of those surveyed would prefer the option to work from home over the perk of unlimited vacation time. And yet, prior to Covid 19, only 32% or workers in both the US and UK were allowed the opportunity.
There are proven financial benefits to companies with a remote workforce. According to PGI, full-time tele-workers save companies on average $10,000 per employee annually on real-estate costs alone, 63% decreased absenteeism and 25% lower turn-over. Most importantly, 77% of respondents reported greater productivity with 30% accomplishing more in less time. Almost one-quarter of remote workers were
even willing to work longer hours than they normally would on site.
When there was solid evidence to support a remote workforce, why is it that some companies didn’t allow it prior to the onset of Covid 19? Especially when it’s been proven that workers do their job with the same efficacy? I believe it ultimately boiled down to a lack of Trust. Employers feared lost productivity, assuming their workers struggle with time-management and the discipline to ignore the distractions of home. There was also anxiety about losing their competitive advantage with teams not being able to come together for face-to-face interaction, ultimately hindering innovation.
For all the benefits that flexible working brings, and the new ways of working offered by technology, none of it can happen without trust. – Adam Henderson
Now companies are realizing that communicating virtually works. They have been able to establish, nurture and prioritize cultures of clear communication. Technology has allowed us to stay connected and we’ve learned how to share information with each other virtually. We’ve proven we can be accountable to agreements and commitments we make to one another while working remotely. We have built Trust in this virtual world in our geographically disbursed teams. In fact, it’s worked so well that 98% of remote employees would like to continue working remotely (at least for some time) for the rest of their careers.
These unprecedented times have forced us all to adapt in new w
ays, and we’ve learned so much in the process. Working remotely provided new opportunities to successfully balance work with life, manage our time effectively, improve productivity, reduce our carbon footprint, and save time and money. I’m not one to gamble, but I would place a bet that remote working and virtual teams will stick around long after the pandemic fades. Over the past several months, we’ve successfully created cultures of robust communication, trust, and accountability. Why would we change anything?