Why go remote?

Why go remote?
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen / Unsplash

Today I woke up at 6:30, took a shower, prepared breakfast, and was already working at 7 am from my living room; no traffic jams, no need for dressy outfits or heels, no pressure on catching the bus, no worries on leaving something at home, no need on programming my alarm at 4 am in order to be on time at the office, located almost 18 km from where I live -which by car doesn’t sound as much, but when one has to use public transport, oh boy, you can imagine-.

I got to sleep 2 hours and a half more than usual and once the job was done, I was already at home; once again, without having endured any congestion, long traveling distances or hunger from forgetting my lunch thanks to the morning hastiness.

This is a perpetual reality for many workers that spend all their labor time at home -some from a congregated office, others from a prepared corner of the living room, some from their bed, all according to their personal preferences- because they have chosen a remote work dynamic with which to maintain contact with people from other countries and, sometimes, even from other continents, while still signifying a capable, resourceful and available workforce.

But, apart from all of this, what really is Remote Working and which effects could it have in the workers’ lives and in their respective corporations’ development?

What is remote?

We have discussed various topics related to remote working previously, just like when we talked about onshoring and offshoring. Then, we exposed the benefits of focusing on nearshoring, especially in Latin America when related to USA-based companies but, why going remote at all?

Remote Year defines remote working as “a working style that allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment”, this as they develop professionally away from a centralized office compound. This means they normally do it at home, with all the commodities that can represent.

However, wouldn’t that mean that they end up distracting, wasting time and being less productive? Not necessarily, it all depends on your specific remote work policy -topic we’ll focus on later- and the chores each individual develops; plus, there is, likewise, no insurance that your personnel won’t present this same behavior even if crowded in an office.

Yet, don’t believe me.

Statistics show a strong inclination from workers towards a remote attitude mainly because of a flexible schedule, regardless of the effort their job already implies. Also, even if they are free to work wherever they want, employees also prefer staying at home, so is really uncommon for staff members to use this location-freedom in order to take, let’s say, some really convenient vacations; which, as is shown likewise, if they do, they are prone to still fulfill with their responsibilities before enjoying their immediate environment.

However, these are mandatory securities at the moment of developing with your workforce but, what can remote working bring to a company specifically?

5 Benefits from having remote workforces

1. More productivity

Contrary to what is thought when work-from-home is firstly considered, remote workers tend to signify more productive spent-hours than those of their equals that develop at an office. Either because of distractions or unwillingness to complete the activities, even if both, a remote and normal worker, each invested 2 hours doing the same assignment, it results more likely for the distant employee to finish it during that time and/or with a better quality.

2. Wider working market to choose from

Let’s imagine a manager is in desperate need of an experienced programmer for a project he is developing, but he has to look for it in a limited ratio of 20 km around the working point for it not to mean much traveling time and raising the probabilities of starting at once. He will find no more than 100 in that stance, most likely only 20 will apply, 10 will actually present themselves to the interview, half of those will have the desired experience and knowledge, and finally only 2 people will actually be eligible options according to the company’s values.

However, once you consider remote working a possibility, you open that range pretty much as far as internet connection allows, obtaining a much wider market from where to choose available workforce that can start working by getting to their closest computer or device and begin operating.

3. Lower price from office services

Let’s get back to examples once again. Visualize an office with 30 employees working in it, every single one of them means a cost in electricity, in water and, with so many people in a closed space, hopefully also in air conditioner.

Now, with only 1 person that worked from home, all it’s charges according to said assistances are already being completely saved, and therefore being won by the company. Imagine then if all 30 from them worked from home, not one dollar would have to be used for paying any of the resources mentioned above, that limited to only those 3, but could even be more.

4. Satisfied workforce that concludes in more retention

Remote working isn’t such a new modality, it has been applied diversely for more than 30 years ago, meaning that it has had since then to generate noise about its success. Because of this, many employees seek for it to become a constant hiring alternative, either as part time or fully remote.

This has a direct effect on their satisfaction and, therefore, on their retention. Many studies have shown a significant amount of workers to prefer the choice of working from home than a salary raise, as it means a more flexible schedule or, because of its location, one that is easier to adapt to. This being said, organizations ought to consider the dynamic if a worker they’re interested on keeping is pondering over other offer than includes it.

We have talked about the in-office expenses, reducen when you have no staff getting together physically in one place. However, what about location related expenses? These divide in two:

Firstly, those that take a base in the workers’ life quality.

In order to analyze this situation, we have to understand that, at people’s geography not being limited by the closeness it has to their work place, they can settle down wherever their personal economy fits better; therefore, we don’t have employees buying a house in a neighborhood they can’t afford in order to drive less to their office, which takes us to another important detail: they are not wasting money in transportation, either if it is bus or gasoline for their car, train, etc.

By giving these aspects no percentage of their savings and incomings, peoples’ life become easier, their days become happier and their desire to remain in the remote modality increases, which ends up in, once again, more retention of laborers.

And, how can this also save bills for the company?
You’re not rehiring over and over again due to lost subordinates, which conserves time and money.

When contracting people remotely from other countries, the salary you provide them has an absolute influence from their specific national-economic circumstances. Hence, if we have a company from, lets say, the United States, employing in Costa Rica, the expense this particular worker means to the organization would be considerably lower than if this same staff lived in the United States, for it adapts to the employees reality without affecting her or his wellbeing, as it goes in concordance to its country’s budgetary development.

Far from harming the worker’s life or its country’s situation, it may even end up being beneficial for both, as the individual is still contributing to its nation through personal and familiar purchases that part from her or his incomes, which are normally somewhat higher as they come from a more developed economy.

All Remote Companies vs Full time office jobs:

This trend is becoming more and more popular. Remote offices consist basically in a company that hires all their employees for remote working. This practice has become more and more common, that’s why managers and leaders need to be aware that they have to accommodate. As the world becomes more digital companies are considering taking a step back from the traditional way of hiring people. The idea of having a top talent workforce from all over the world can be pretty positive.

On the other hand, companies that are still full time offices have different perceptions. Many businesses have the perception that working remotely lost productivity and synergy between its employees. But this might not be true, only a misconception. Look for example the case of IBM. “In 2009 IBM reported that 40% of its workforce (386,000 employees in 173 countries) worked remotely. In 2017, the company asked thousands of these employees to return to the office. This might be a panic move from the leaders of IBM. After 20 quarters of straight losses employees must need to be in the same building for a “great idea to occur.”

At first the makes sense because bring everyone back to the office could improve collaboration. But this isn’t necessarily the case. To prove that the stock today is lower than it was in 2017. So maybe bringing everyone together might not be the best answer.

Taking these into considerations this are the best practice for remote team workers:

1.Set Boundaries With Remote Workers:

Working with remote teams can be a little tricky with the different time zones or the cultural shock. Many persons can be disturbed with the constant messaging or emails in the late hours of the night. For these reasons it is really important to discuss work schedules with each member of the team, and consultation hours.

2.Encourage and Embrace Diversity:

The more common obstacles in remote organization are the multicultural teams, language barriers and different accents. These can produce misunderstandings, and conflicts with the task assigned. One way unit managers can solve this kind of problem  working in teams in the same cultural range and embracing cultural diversity. Leaders should see this as an opportunity to learn more, and promote a mindset of celebrating differences.

3. Set The Expectations For The Team:

Every unit of work should have the expectations clear, whether they’re working remotely or virtually. This would help the employees feel the structure and same mindset to work towards a common goal. For example: work hours, the availability, and the communication system that is going to be used.

4. Improve Your Online Communication skill:

Remote teams present the setback of communication when they’re working on projects, the distance becomes a bigger problem, when you don’t have the necessary skills to communicate with your teams. As leader of a team you have to encourage the use of the right remote collaboration tools and assertive communication.

Here are some pieces of advice:

  1. Having One-on-One Interactions
  2. Encourage two-way feedback
  3. Show appreciation
  4. Conduct team building activities
  5. Use time wisely

5. Invest in the right remote project management software:

This one is maybe one of the most important one, having the right software can help you to keep track of the project evolution, and productivity. Also it let's all the people in the team share the information in real time. These kinds of improvements are really useful because it helps teams make the decision at the right time.

As you can see, just as remote working can bring many benefits not only to employees but also to their companies, it also has been tested enough to declare it a successful method, and to demonstrate that, even if communication can become difficult to handle at first, there is no problem that can’t be solved.

Read more