Working from home, or working remotely, is trending up. And while many people love it, there is still a large number that turn their nose up at it. So, what’s the truth behind it?
There have been several studies on the pros and cons of working remote. At Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., we have the whole range of work arrangements. From traditional in-office employees, to people who split their time between the office and working at home, and several employees who work from home. So, over the last five years, we’ve seen results firsthand.
If you’re anything like the masses, you have a ton of questions and/or skepticism about employees working from home. Does it make employees more productive? Does it make them happier? How do you keep track of employee work flow?
Let’s get to the bottom of some of these questions, and dive into what working from home could mean for your company.
Why Would I Want a Remote Work Force?
Starting with the basics – why would I even want remote employees?
Three reasons that come to mind immediately, the first being overhead. While established companies may be able to handle an increase in overhead costs for a growing workforce, such as office space, furniture, and things like heating and cooling a building, smaller or new businesses may not have it built into their cost structure.
Another major reason is accommodation. Sometimes the commute is too much, other times great talent relocates for personal reasons. Losing a great employee can be heartbreaking. To keep your excellent employee, working remote might be the perfect workaround.
Last but not least, flexibility is known to boost employee morale. In some scenarios, working from home daily wouldn’t jive well for business. But on days when working from home is viable, even for half a day, it can be an excellent bonus.
According to Forbes - A robust 68 percent of job seekers who are Millennials said an option to work remotely would significantly increase their interest in specific employers, according to a survey by AfterCollege. – If you’re looking to grow as a company, offering flex home/office hours could help.
How Technology Has Advanced Remote Working
Technology is responsible for a significant jump in remote working. Companies are now investing in cloud-based programs. This allows employees to gain access to almost anything with an Internet connection. Because these cloud-based programs are so advanced, working from home or in a hotel, or at your office workstation lends the same experience to the end-user and anyone they are collaborating with. With powerful computers becoming more affordable, and the ease of high-speed Internet at home, there is a lot more freedom in the work force.
Collaboration or communication tools have also kept up with the times. A conference call can now be held over video. There is software that allows multiple users to not only communicate but work on the same project, document, or PowerPoint simultaneously. The only way you know that person isn’t physically present is because you can’t physically shake their hand.
Related: Get the Guide to Enabling Remote Workers with Technology to learn how you can maintain productivity and security when your employees have to work from home.
The Science Behind Remote Jobs
Stanford University recently did a study about working from home trends and what they found is fascinating.
The Test Subjects: Ctrip – China’s Largest Travel Agency
The Study: For two years, half of Ctrip's employees worked from home, coming into the office one day a week. The other half worked in the office daily.
The Hypothesis: Because telecommuting has grown faster than any other “getting to work method,” up 159 % since 2000 (Quartz Analysis) there must be benefits to working from home.
The Results: Those that worked from home had a 13% improvement in performance. The study attributed the gains to longer working hours (no running errands or getting stuck in traffic) and improved concentration.
*Stanford also mentioned the “worker gone wild” scenario in which working from home might not be productive for certain individuals. These are based on the entire populous tested, not individual performance*
How Accent Makes Remote Jobs Work
As a partial work-from-home employee for Accent Computer Solutions, I enjoy the freedom of working from home three days a week. My direct manager, on the other hand, works remote daily and is physically in the office a few days per month. I even have co-workers in other states who only come to the office a few times a year. And as I mentioned above, we also have full-time in-house employees as well.
The keys to remote work for us are communication and accountability. All of our departments have daily huddles. What's a huddle, you ask? It's a practice we implemented from Verne Harnish’s book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Basically, they are quick 10-15-minute daily meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
They include things like: Tasks for the next 24 hours, a quick review of daily metrics, and reporting anywhere you’re “stuck” or might need help. This uncovers bottlenecks and issues that need addressing.
Remote huddles are possible by phone or online. To use a phone, your service must allow multiple calls to connect simultaneously.
The other option is an online meeting service. Services like GoToMeeting or Zoom help connect remote employees to a shared session on a computer. Video conferencing, viewing meeting materials, and interacting with the presenter can be accommodated. We use a combination of these to huddle daily.
Another major component of success while working from home is based on resources. Our phones are Voice Over IP (VoIP), which allow us to use our Internet connection to make and receive phone calls. We also use Skype instant messaging. Getting ahold of someone by dialing their extension or by sending an instant message is as easy as if they were sitting in the office next door.
Do You Lose Any of the Team Feeling When People Are Remote?
If it's new to your company, it might take some getting used to.
At first, having some people out of the office can be uncomfortable to manage. It’s a shift from using "office time" as the measure of job performance and productivity, to relying more on results and trust. With Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), daily check-ins, and the right communications tools, the team can stay on track just like they’re in the office.
For us, it’s not “set it and forget it.” It’s constantly evolving to make sure the team stays connected and that our clients continue to get top-notch service.
It might not be right for every employee, or for every company depending on the type of work you do. But for our team, having a combination of remote and in-office employees works.
What conclusions have you drawn? Do you agree with the science behind working from home, or are you still on the fence? If testing remote positions is in your future, chat with your IT department. They’ll be your go-to resource, not only for the latest remote technologies, but they also know the ins and outs of your current system. They’ll know the best way to give employees a seamless remote working experience. They can facilitate any changes, upgrades, or adjustments that will need to be made to accommodate remote workers.
Remote Working and IT Strategy
Enabling a remote workforce can be a strategic component of your business model. If you're not confident that your IT team is giving you the guidance you need to identify and implement IT strategy that will grow your business, we should talk. Contact us at 800-481-4369 or schedule a FREE IT assessment.