The way we work has significantly changed in recent years. Enterprise software came a long way towards enabling employees to perform their jobs more effectively. From digital workplace solutions to business-specific platforms like knowledge management systems, Enterprise social networks and chatops, employees now have a multitude of ways to communicate, collaborate and get things done.
These advancements, coupled with the emergence of a tech-savvy workforce paved the way for remote working. Whether from the comfort of their homes, the nearest coffee shop or on the road, employees are always kept up to date the latest company news and are able to work as if they were in their office.
Recruiting, engaging and retaining talent in 2019 is quite different to a couple of decades ago. Increasingly, candidates are asking for flexible work hours and to work from home. According to the state of remote work, a study of 2,500 remote workers, 99% of respondents were in favour of working remotely at least some of the time. 95% expressed their willingness to encourage their peers to work remotely as it brings a number of benefits. A flexible schedule, working from any location and more time spent with family are among the most cited benefits according to the report.
Another study made by the CIPD, found that remote work empowers employees and helps them stay in control of their workload and be more productive. However, the same study found that a third of respondents feel that working remotely made them unable to switch off in their personal time and 19% that they felt they were constantly under surveillance. Remote workers are also under pressure to prove that they are more productive while working remotely and that they deserve the special treatment.
“Remote workers are overcompensating to prove to their colleagues that they are not in their pyjamas at home and prove to their employers that they are a safe pair of hands willing to go the extra mile in return for the discretion an employer gives them to work at home or in a remote location,” Professor Alan Felstead, research professor at the University of Cardiff’s School of Social Sciences
With a multitude of studies on the matter, some highlighting the benefits for both employer and employee and others stressing the negative impact, making the case for remoting working must depend on other factors like the nature of the job and the overall strategies of the company. Nevertheless, companies have started to embrace this new way of work. Amazon, Apple, and Dell are among the companies that have decided to introduce remote working for some positions.
In the case of Amazon, for example, virtual or work from home positions are available for qualified individuals who work in specific areas. Candidates can discuss the schedule and flexibility with recruiters during their job interview. Upwork, a global freelancing platform, expects that 38% of their full-time employees will work remotely within the next 10 years.
These initiatives show that remote working is more than a trend and that is slowly but surely becoming the norm.
Remote working today
Trying to make a case for remote working in the Eighties or Nineties would have been extremely difficult. Communication tools at the time were not efficient, laptops were not affordable and mobile devices were as basic as they can be. However, things started to change on the turn of the century with advancements in mobile technology and growing investment by tech companies in Enterprise software.
An average worker needs a combination of hardware and software to perform their job remotely. A laptop and a mobile device containing the apps used in the office are absolute must-haves for an employee to be productive. Instant messaging, project and knowledge management, and performance management represent the main ingredients for an ideal remote experience. However, as the number of apps used in every office continues to grow, so does the amount of time spent by employees locating information. This would make every remote worker bombarded with notifications form different tools and applications which will make his/her work experience more complicated and would negatively affect his/her performance.
The new generation of intranets, or what is commonly referred to as digital workplace solutions, has gained popularity within businesses, especially ones embracing remote working. Their ability to encompass different tools and applications within one centralised suite help remote workers:
- Communicate in real-time using a built-in chat application.
- Schedule, organise and participate in meetings with video conferencing.
- Collaborate on projects with an integrated project management functionality or integration with a third party project management tool.
- Access a centralised and rich knowledge base thus reducing the time spent locating information.
In addition, modern digital workplace solutions allow their users to get notified in real-time whether on desktop or mobile devices. In this way, remote workers stay updated on the latest company news and activities of their teams.
Remote working is a trend that is growing year-on-year, thanks to advancements in technology, increasing adoption with promising results and the emergence of a workforce with different expectations. The introduction of 5G will only help in enhancing the remote experience by making communication faster, especially video calls. New technologies like virtual and augmented reality would also help in establishing remote working as an essential way of doing work in the future.