What's in this article
It wasn’t so long ago that the ability to work remotely was seen as a rare privilege. The idea of allowing employees to work from the comfort of their own home was sneered at, with the overarching belief being that output would suffer.
What's in this article
The concept that a full day’s work could be completed amongst the deluge of distractions present in the home environment was seen as alien. Remote working was reserved for the lucky, crafty few. It was the realm of high-flying freelancers, self-employed software engineers and stoic novelists scribbling away their next bestsellers. The average office worker simply couldn’t be trusted.
Pre-COVID, the majority of those in management positions were sceptical of their teams’ ability to be productive outside of the office. No matter your stance, there’s plenty to be said for the switch in mindset that being present in the office brings. From the background ambience of water-cooler gossip to the wheel-y office chairs and plastic plants, it’s an atmosphere conducive to working. Aside from that, it’s really all we’d ever known.
However, in the post-pandemic age, offices aren’t viewed as necessary. Nowadays, the prevailing attitude is that the company commute is optional (but often encouraged). During the initial COVID-19 outbreak, managers weren’t given an option on remote work. As vital as it may have been, the office was now hazardous to our health. A massive shift was in order.
What both employees and employers alike have now come to realise is that there are huge benefits to remote working, some of which we’ll delve into below.
The commute certainly isn’t dead, but the remote working revolution has drastically reduced the amount of traffic running through our cities and towns. This in turn has slashed the employee costs incurred by travel, whether by car or public transport.
A late-2021 study found that the global shift to working from home had left a positive impact on air pollution. The research indicated that opting to work remotely for four days a week could reduce traffic pollutants by up to 10% in our major towns and cities.
The shift away from the office has also led to a reduction in waste, with fewer paper documents needed due to digitalisation. Food waste has decreased too, as many workers now opt to prepare lunch in the comfort of their own kitchens instead of rushing to the nearest stores to grab pre-packaged meals.
Remote working means job opportunities are currently more open than ever before. Businesses are now able to source candidates from a vast pool of highly-skilled professionals instead of needing to compromise due to geographical limitations.
Notably, this hiring process isn’t limited to bringing in recruits from overseas or hiring them as freelancers. It’s now relatively common for a business to use an employer of record service to bring on full-time employees located elsewhere in the world. Also known as EOR, such a service sees a third-party corporation route the hiring through a legal business umbrella in the required country (and handle associated admin like payroll and HR).
Furthermore, remote working empowers and encourages hiring managers to recruit from a more diverse selection of candidates. For example, commuting can represent a significant entry barrier for those with disabilities. What may be a simple journey through town for most can be an ordeal for individuals affected by mobility issues.
Shockingly, a recent survey found that over a quarter of offices in the UK have no wheelchair access. Remote working may not fix this issue, but it provides a great opportunity for candidates who have previously been excluded from the hiring process. It also bridges a major wealth divide, allowing those who are less economically privileged to work for businesses located in prohibitively-affluent areas.
It’s a simple equation. Most employees are happier working from home. Happier employees are more productive. The confidence gained from a greater sense of autonomy, coupled with an improved work-life balance, provides fertile ground for productivity to flourish.
There’s more: a recent study found that remote employees actually work 1.4 more days per month than their colleagues in the office. Tot this up across an entire year, and it amounts to over three additional weeks of work per year. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.
Remote workers also avoid being looped into last-minute meetings as colleagues pass by their desks. A workspace with less disruption means that employees can access their ‘flow states’ more easily, resulting in more focused and driven mindsets (and thus more work).
Like it or not, since the events of 2020, professionals have come to expect to have the option of working remotely. Does your business actively reject the notion of a hybrid or remote workspace? If that’s the case, it’s likely that you’re scaring away many potential applicants before you’ve even had a chance to review their credentials.
The formerly-rare privilege of remote work has become a must-have for many, so refusing to accommodate it could mean losing out on top-tier picks from the talent pool. Consider the case of file-sharing tech company Dropbox, for instance, which found that introducing remote working to its employee policy nearly doubled its applicant numbers.
Feeling hesitant about remote working in general, or unsure on the best way to implement it? Despite the rate of global change, you don’t need to rush things: starting by introducing one or two mandatory ‘WFH’ days will give you time to stress-test your IT infrastructure. Once your current workforce is comfortable with working remotely, you can move towards a more flexible policy (and attract more candidates as a result).
Remote working might not be for everyone. Some of us love the ‘buzz’ of office culture: morning meetings, team lunches, and essential Friday drinks. But for those of us who are less keen, the remote working revolution of 2020 has given us a fantastic alternative. So whether you’re a dedicated disciple of the daily commute or you’ve found inner harmony in your home office setup, there’s no denying that our relationship with work has fundamentally changed.
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