Is remote work just a trending topic, or is it a viable way of life? Through technology, a growing number of jobs can theoretically be completed without having to walk into an office at all. In most remote work conversations, the assumption is that employers instinctively recoil from the idea while technologists plead for the opportunity. The truth is that there’s a little more than meets the eye when setting remote work expectations for yourself or your business.
Debunking Remote Work Myths
Let’s clear up four common remote work misconceptions right off the bat:
- Remote workers are less productive – With fewer distractions and no commutes, remote workers are statistically more productive than their in-office counterparts. A two-year Stanford study found that remote workers in one company completed an extra day’s worth of work per week compared to their non-remote peers.
- Communication suffers – Collaboration can still thrive via phone or video calls, and over half of remote workers connect with their manager one or more times per day. Plus, research shows that companies with remote workers score high in employee engagement.
- Few companies allow remote work – Although some are reluctant to adapt, 70% of professionals around the world work remotely at least one day per week, with 50% working remotely at least half of each week.
- Working from home is easy – A remote working day is not a vacation day, nor taken lightly. 77% of workers get more done remotely than in the office, and it’s by working hard.
Secure and Retain Technologists with Remote Work
Do you want the best technologist or the best available technologist willing to work in an office? When a business doesn’t contemplate offering remote work, it alienates a large portion of technologists who will only consider more flexible jobs. By opening up your recruiting process to include remote employees, you gain access to an enormous talent pool that includes the cream of the crop. Not only does this attract prospective technologists, but remote workers are happier employees. In the aforementioned Stanford remote work study, retention of remote employees improved by 50%.
Offering remote work doesn’t have to be an all or nothing initiative. At BridgeView IT, our internal staff works remotely one day per week. For other companies, the right balance may be one day per month or three days per week. Not every company or employee is wired the same way, but remote work helps unlock the full potential of your resources. With younger generations gaining a presence in the technology industry, it’s important to remember they are digital natives who grew up communicating remotely, making many of them natural remote workers.
Of course, managing a remote workforce requires strong communication along with a clear plan and set of expectations. While that will require extra effort from managers, fewer in-office employees produces a cost savings on office space and utilities. On top of that, some technologists may be willing to take a slightly smaller salary for the opportunity to work remotely, and that can help your technology hiring budget. As you consider all of this, remember: if you can’t trust your employees to work remotely at least some of the time, why hire them at all?
How Technologists Find and Keep Remote Roles
When you’re a technologist, the interview process is the critical time to gauge how open a potential employer is to the idea of remote work. The best-case scenario is that they already have a remote work policy in place, but if not, or if you wish to ask for remote work in your current role, it’s time to come up with a plan. Do your homework and make a proposal, perhaps including a trial run, and be specific. State how you plan to stay in communication, what tasks you’d be working on remotely, what your remote working space would look like, etc. Doing so makes it as easy as possible for your supervisor (or potential supervisor) to say yes.
Once you’re working remotely, know that your work product might be under a bigger microscope than before. Taking too long to answer an email or reply to a missed phone call could raise questions. Make sure you’re on an instant messaging platform like Skype or Google Chat so that you’re easily available, offering a virtual way for your manager or coworkers to knock on your office door. It’s an employer’s worst fear that their remote workers will become disconnected from the company, so alleviate these concerns by staying responsive.
To set yourself up for success, you must have your own remote working space. If working from home, make sure there’s a dedicated room free from kids, significant others, TVs, and your personal life. It’s also a good idea to find local libraries, coffee shops, or coworking spaces where you know you can be productive. While remote work is a great perk, it can be easy to lose true work-life balance if you’re not careful. Don’t burn out by working regularly into the evenings or weekends. Remote workers will often keep working even while sick, which only negatively impacts health and degrades the work product. Think carefully about your time, and you can successfully be a remote working technologist.
Setting Remote Work Expectations
Working from home isn’t just a novelty, it’s the future of many roles in technology. In fact, remote workers who have been in their remote roles for 3-5 years feel happier and more valued than when they first began their jobs. That alone proves it can be a feasible long-term setup that is mutually beneficial for technologists and the companies who rely on their skills. Set your expectations accordingly, and your career or business can thrive in a modern and efficient way.