Working remotely is the new norm with the recent Coronavirus disaster, many businesses around the world were unprepared, forcing them to scramble to arrange alternative solutions for employees to work from home for the sake of business continuity.
As such, working remotely has become a renewed topic that urgently needs consideration by both small and large businesses.
According to a Forbes article published on March 29th, 01:20pm EDT, only 16% of global companies are now fully remote, although 52% of employees work from home at least one day of the week.
If anything, COVID-19 taught us that we need to be prepared to look at doing things differently.
It’s not only pandemics that we need to prepare for – what about natural disasters, which are being reported throughout the world on a daily basis?
Technical innovations like 5G, VAS and applications make remote working a viable idea for most companies.
Working remotely in the future
While pandemics and natural disasters are a major reason for business to contemplate remote working, innovation and technology are also pushing the drive for remote teams.
Even more pressing than risk mitigation planning for “in case”, is Gen Z and Millenials:
Gen Z is a term used for those born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, while Millenials are slightly older; born between 1983 and the year 2000.
By the year 2025, Millenials are expected to comprise 75% of the total workforce, and of course, Gen Z’ers will follow closely on their heels.
What makes this important?
Gen Z, more than any other generation, grew up with the internet and technology; they are digital natives fully adept at using the technology that older generations may not feel so comfortable with.
Born into technology, Gen Z’ers are a different species. They demand a different culture and a new way for businesses to do things. They expect flexibility, and more of them are already disconnecting from the daily chaos and becoming digital nomads who travel the world to earn an income.
Because of technology, their thinking has been shaped in a way that previous generations are not familiar with, but to engage them, companies are going to need to accommodate their desires, and the more in-demand workers in the Gen Z generation are, the more flexible businesses will need to become.
Here’s what defines this generation in business:
- Technology is key. They respect and are comfortable with it, and they use it for most of their daily interactions.
- They are socially conscious, more so than any other generation. They desire to do work that is meaningful for themselves and society.
- They are a DIY generation, so micromanaging is out of the question.
- They demand flexibility.
- They embrace diversity.
Already the US workforce experienced a 159% increase in remote working from the years 2005 to 2017.
According to Smallbizgenius, a 2020 report states that 16% of companies only hire remote workers and don’t employ anyone to work in the company office.
Under normal circumstances, a 2020 report states that 61% of people have left, or are considering leaving their place of employ because it doesn’t offer the flexibility they require.
You could be thinking that you don’t see why this younger generation’s needs should be accommodated if they get paid a salary, but it is a sure thing that the most innovative companies are going to be grabbing the best talent, because they know the value that Gen Z bring in terms of innovative thinking and workstyle, and how their businesses will benefit from it.
So the big question is: Is your business ready for Generation Z?
Benefits of working remotely
There are more benefits to working remotely, for both the company and it’s remote employees:
Benefits for businesses
The primary benefits for business include:
- Productivity. Statistics show that remote workers are in general more productive. In fact, the biggest problem for 22% of remote workers is unplugging after work.
- Performance. A survey found that while office workers take slightly less time for breaks, remote workers work 1.4 days more than office bound workers.
- Engagement. Flexibility breeds self-determination and company loyalty. Remote workers are happier than office workers, and therefore more engaged to the company, which positively impacts performance.
- Retention. Companies who offer remote working have higher employee retention rates.
- Profitability. Gallup has found that remote workers increase company profitability because they are more emotionally engaged with their employers and this drives performance. For multiple reasons, costs are also decreased.
Benefits for employees
Working style is a major drawcard to attracting best in talent, and the world’s most successful companies understand this.
Remote working is a major perk to champion workers because:
- They save time by not needing to commute, and transport costs are decreased. In addition, they are always on time because the reasons for tardiness are automatically removed.
- Working remotely reduces stress dramatically.
- Better time management. Working in an office usually means a lot of wasted time from low-value meetings, distractions, and loud colleagues who wish to chat.
- Flexibility equals higher employee retention.
- Increased efficiency and productivity due to reduced distractions, and higher levels of emotional engagement with the business.
Where to after Covid-19?
According to the 2019 National Compensation Survey (NCS) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7% of US workers had remote work as a benefit before Covid-19, and they were the higher paid employees.
Insurance carriers, professional and technical services and Information have been the industries with the most remote workers:
Even if the numbers of remote workers have been fairly low, the trend has continued to rise. An annual survey by Flexjobs shows that remote work growth has grown by 44% in the last five years, and 159% in the last 12 :
When Covid-19 dictated social distancing for a time, millions of employees around the world needed to quickly set up offices at home to continue working.
Global Workplace Analytics estimates that after Covid-19, 25-30% of the workforce will work at home one or more days a week within the next two years.
We’ve seen that remote working has benefits for both organisation and employee, so then why have not more companies made the transition to remote working before they were temporarily forced to when Covid-19 hit?
Mostly, management doesn’t trust that employees will put in the hours when they work from home. They are used to managing teams by counting bottoms in chairs, but is this real management?
Which brings us to the next point: how productive are employees when they work from home?
How productive are remote workers?
The truth is that most people who work from home tend to give more of their time.
A survey of 1,004 full-time employees revealed that while office workers take slightly less breaks in the day, remote workers put in 1.4 more days per month.
When asked what their biggest challenge was when working from home, employees said that after a lack of collaboration and loneliness, they found it hard to switch off from work when the day was officially over:
While it’s been shown that remote workers produce higher performance, we would still recommend that new employees be office bound until they are more experienced, so that they can learn from other staff, and learn more about the company in person.
Steps for business to ensure successful remote working
While there are benefits for both business and employee, it must be noted that the greatest barrier to remote working is technology and psychology, and it is essential to take this into account, or it can have an adverse effect.
How do you start planning?
- Use an organisational chart to see which roles need to remain in-office, and which can be moved to remote working.
- Ensure you have the right processes and standards in place for each remote role.
- Understand the emotional aspect to remote working, such as loneliness, and brainstorm ways to eliminate those barriers innovatively and successfully.
- Get the right technology to make remote working a success. Stable and secure internet connection is essential, plus:
- APN is a superior way for companies to offer remote workers internet access. Adapt IT｜Telecoms offers an easy to use and manage APN-as-a-Service platform for remote working that is set up within 72 hours.
- Collaboration tools are critical, so that remote teams are fully distributed by staying on the same page.
- The right communication technologies. It is important for managers and workers to have strong communication. (Find recommended tools below).
Recommended technology for working remotely
These tools are offered by Adapt IT｜Telecoms:
- APN-as-a-Service provides secure intranet or internet connection or both for remote employees, who can be located anywhere, and get connected to the internet at any time. Data management is simple and reporting provides data views for better business decisions, and for complete management. With Adapt IT｜Telecoms, your employees could be connected remotely within 72 hours, and with minimal effort on your part.
- Mobile Device Management connects devices to the company’s network. Manage, control and locate any device anywhere and anytime.
- Expense Management with Corporate Customer Self-Service Portal integrates workflows between finance and administration, providing data on all voice, data and messaging that gets used across the company to identify high-cost or high-traffic users.