What comes to your mind when you think about work-from-home?
Probably someone selling handicrafts from their living room . Or maybe someone working part-time in anyway?
But that’s not the true definition of remote work. So what is it exactly?
Well, if I had to put it in the simplest words, working from anywhere other than a designated office desk, is remote work.
You could be in your home office, in a park, or in a cozy coffee shop where you are delivering the work at your best If your job does not require you to commute to a designated office every day, it makes you a remote worker.
Evolution of Remote Work
Humans have basically shifted from nomads, to living in small cities, bigger cities, or in insanely-large cities. This happened majorly during the industrial revolution. Technology was expensive and thus concentrated at hubs and not readily available. To access the machines and all other equipments one had to visit the respective place in person.
Then came the era of computers and internet. People started commuting to designated spaces to work on computers further facilitated by internet. The technology was only available at corporate offices. Personal PCs were a dream.
But we have come a long way since then.
From factories to cubicles to Wi-Fi. Employees are shifting from the traditional hub offices to flexible work spaces.
The number of remote employees are increasing every year and remote work is progressing at a high rate.
Mark Gilbreath, founder, and CEO of LiquidSpace said, “30% of enterprise workspace portfolio would be flexible by 2030.”
This is a paradigm shift that could even potentially reduce migration movements in the medium/long term future. Many people will no longer need to move to a different country just so they can get a job. Now the internet lets you work from anywhere. Read more facts and reason to believe Future of Work is Remote.
Why is the Shift Happening?
Advances in technology and access to high-speed internet allowed companies to go remote. But the real reason for rise in the remote work popularity is its benefits. People are realizing that remote work is, in fact, the future of work.
Independent workspace, flexible working hours, and personal life benefits appeal to the upcoming workforce. And this is why more and more people are hunting for a remote job today.
Companies are realizing how remote employees can be beneficial for the organization. More and more companies have started remote work and are looking to hire remote employees.
Are you looking for a remote job? Find out what an HR looks for while hiring a remote employee.
Stages of Remote Work
I am still surprised by the high number of companies, even startups working in tech, that are afraid of remote working. They just don’t get it. I have talked to a lot of entrepreneurs that can’t seem to get their heads around the fact that you can have employees located all over the world, and still run a successful company. Based on my understanding and experience I see remote work happening in these four ways:
- Traditional office with a work-from-home option - Employees who have to report in a designated office but do have the option of [occasionally] working-from-home fall under this category. If you have ever taken an off from office but still worked from elsewhere, you are a remote worker too. In fact, a lot of office going employees worked remotely without realizing it. Think about it yourself? You will recall multiple times when you have worked remotely outside of the office. Want to work remotely for your current organization? Learn how you can begin and convince your employer to let you work remotely.
- A remote team in a single timezone - This is a true remote setup. Employees do not have to show up in an office (if there is even an office), and everyone works remotely from their individual workspace. The workspace could be a desk in your home or the nearest Starbucks, that’s for you to choose. All the work is done using cloud-based tools including communication, collaboration, and meetings.
- Remote teams in various time zones - One of the biggest advantages of remote work is being able to work with the skilled workforce across the world. And teams working across different time zones fall under this category. This setup requires a little more structure to make communication and collaboration more efficient. There has to be set hygienes factors for every employee to successfully work remotely.
- Distributed team with nomads - If you didn't already know, a digital nomad is someone who travels the world and takes their work wherever they go. This is the most advanced case of remote working. Team members have full freedom and flexibility and are completely location independent. Although this structure can be a little complicated for some teams, digitals nomads have been successfully working while travelling the world. Connie Besalski, founder of LiveYourHeartOut, and a digital nomad said, “Remote work changed my life and me as a person. I was able to do what I love and in the best way possible. Learn from where to start if you want to move to a new country and work remotely.
Cloud-Based Tools make Remote Work Simpler
Take up any of the stage of remote work, as discussed in the previous section, the onus of being able to operate effectively in the “remote structure’ is on the technology you are exposed to. A lot of the dependency is the on the tools your organisation is using for work.
If you have never heard of cloud-based technology, I can assure you it is just the term you are not familiar with. Cloud-based is a term that refers to applications, services or resources made available to users on demand via the Internet. Every time you’ve sent someone an email, you have in fact used cloud-based technology.
Although it is possible for traditional office employees to have only used limited cloud-based tools but remote workers are greatly dependent on them. Cloud-based tools fill the holes (created due to the lack of a physical infrastructure) and make remote work easier. Here’s how -
- Easy communication - Remote work communication wouldn’t have been possible without cloud-based tools. Imagine how difficult it could get if you only relied on phone calls and text messages to communicate with someone else. Conducting a meeting would be a nightmare since there is only one-on-one communication. Cloud-based tools allowed remote workers to communicate and share more easily outside of the traditional methods.
- Reduced IT cost - Cloud-based technology significantly reduces the cost of system upgrades, new hardware, and software. You no longer need to pay wages for expert staff either.
- Flexibility - Work space flexibility is only possible due to cloud-based tools. You no longer have to be in an office to access files. You don’t even have to waste hours finding the right file on your desk. Everything you need is available regardless of your location. Moreover, you have flexibility of choosing your own working hours and setting up your own schedules.
Cloud-based technology is the essence of remote work. Find out the top 5 tools we use in our team to successfully work remotely.
Remote job vs Traditional Office Job
The success of any business unit having a workforce depends on how peers communicate with each other, how the team collaborate and what is the productivity level achieved. Keeping this in focus here we have tried to explain how these three functions look like in a remote environment in contrast to the traditional office setup.
Remote work benefits most business but for some, it just doesn’t work out. Because their employees aren’t self-starters and they need someone to keep a check on their work (otherwise they would just never get it done in time).
This is because things happen differently while working remotely and while working in an office.
In a traditional office, you find windowless cubicles, water cooler, and typical office pranks pinned to the break room cork board. While someone working remotely has to pick their own schedule, set their own working hours and make sure that they are productive throughout.
Communication in a Remote Environment
Communication is easy in a traditional office. If you wish to speak to Kate, you can walk up to her desk and have a conversation. But you cannot do the same in a remote environment [obviously].
While working remotely most of the communication is written and happens over cloud-based technology. And if you do not set communication hygienes, things can go very wrong very quickly.
For instance, if you need urgent information from Kacey, you would send her an email. What if she doesn't respond quickly? Your work would suffer because of this. One need to set up clear guidelines for synchronous communication and asynchronous communication in remote environment.
People do often assume that efficient communication is not possible in a remote environment. But that’s not even close to the reality. All you need is knowledge of tools that you need to communicate in a remote setup.
Another major myth about remote work is that the communication is not smooth which affects collaboration and hampers team productivity.
There is a long list of myths associated with Remote Work. Check or response to each of it here.
Collaboration Among Remote Team Members
A friend told me the other day that he could never work remotely. He asked, “How do you collaborate working remotely? Aren’t meetings hard? And does every member even get what the meeting is about since there are too many team members?”
I agree that it might look like collaboration is much easier in an office space but it only looks like it. Setting up guidelines and using cloud-based tools helps in effective collaboration in a remote team.
Using the appropriate tools for all the function can help in smooth collaboration across teams. For example using Trello for project management, Zoom to record meetings, Task to maintain to-do list, Calendar to schedule meetings, Dropbox to store files, Github to share code and libraries, Mailchimp for emails and newsletters, Zapier for automation and so on.
Working with a remote team is way different than working with a team in your office. When your entire team is distributed all across the globe and face-to-face interaction between you and your team is minimum or none, collaboration amongst the team can get very difficult.
Still some remote managers are able to manage their team way better than other managers simply because they follow three basic steps of improving collaboration in their team while working in a remote environment- Schedule, manage and evaluate.
Learn how to effectively collaborate in a remote team in three simple steps.
Employee Productivity in a Remote Environment
Remote workers boast about being more productive than traditional office workers. Instead of spending time at the water cooler, staring at the clock longingly, dodging your boss, and trying to look busy, a remote worker actually gets stuff done and thus maintains the status-quo of being more productive.
Employees are less stressed in a remote environment as they are able to ditch the stressful office commute and choose their own working hours and space.
But as we all know nothing is constant. Distractions come easy for a remote worker as well. Though remote workers are self-motivated but to maintain high productivity and keep the work going smoothly one needs to put a defined process in place. For example simply stating shared and measurable objectives for a remote team member eliminates the temptation to micromanage the person for fear he or she is slacking.
I know ensuring productivity can be difficult, especially in a huge remote environment but it’s not impossible. Learn how you can achieve high productivity while working remotely.
Big Organizations can Benefit from Working Remotely
People have stereotyped remote work as a strategy followed by start-ups. But that's not even close to the truth. In fact, there are various big organizations that have been successfully working remotely for years now.
And for one simple reason. Big organizations are now embracing remote work because it benefits them.
Financial benefit - Organizations spend thousands of dollars every year on setting up offices. Not to forget the fixed cost of running an office and the variable cost that pops up in their balance sheet every month.
In June 2017, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, shut down it’s San Francisco office and went remote. Simply because it made more sense to do that. Read more about the story behind Automatic’s office shut down and benefits of Remote Work as experienced by them.
For a big organization like Automattic, a fully distributed team saves a lot of money spent on office rent and its operational cost.
Access to global talent - Remote organizations are able to hire skilled employees from all over the world. Since there is no need to commute to an office, the need to be in the same city or even country does not exist while working remotely.
Even companies as big as Microsoft have partially distributed teams because it allows them to work with the best employees over the globe.
Business growth - Remote employees enhance the overall productivity of the organization. Wondering how? Remote work gives a sense of responsibility to employees and they become very sensitive to deadlines, efficiently solve problems and put their best foot forward when it comes to work delivery.
This in return helps your business to grow dramatically.
But how do they do it? Isn’t managing over 500 remote employees difficult?
Well, it is. But it’s not impossible.
If you follow specific remote work hygienes, there is nothing that can come in the way of managing a remote team successfully. Not to forget, it is equally important for employees to follow the set work hygiene as sincerely as the employer.
Whether you are an Entrepreneur running a business e-commerce, SAAS, affiliate marketing or a solopreneur offering a personal service including consultants, coaches, and freelancers - You should definitely consider working remotely. And if you didn’t know, working remotely can also help you save a lot of tax money. Almost all of that you pay right now to be precise.
Learn how to legally avoid taxes as a remote entrepreneur.
Join the Revolution - Start Remote Work today
Ever wonder what stops people from working remotely?
I’ll tell you - fear. Fear of discomfort. Fear of consequences. Fear of change.
But did you know - remote work can positively impact your professional as well as personal life.
Remote employees and digital nomads chose this path for a reason. They soon realized that remote work is here to stay and it is without a doubt the best way to work. It not only has a lot in store for the organization but also for an individual remote worker.
And if it has worked out for others, it surely can for you too.
Join the remote work revolution and embrace the future of work. Start working remotely now!