As the number of companies that adopt remote work policies keeps growing, more businesses are looking to take advantage of the telecommuting benefits. In this guest post, Grace Lau of Dialpad gives a glimpse of a working environment recognizing remote work as the new normal.
Is remote work the new normal? This is just one of the questions businesses around the world are currently asking themselves. There’s been a lot of hype about remote work for years. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced firms to make major changes sooner than most had anticipated. Since then, many companies and workers have embraced remote work, and it has largely continued, no longer by necessity, but by choice.
Companies have come to realize that there are a number of benefits to having a remote workforce. In their turn, many workers have expressed a preference for this. This affects businesses across the board. Demand for software as a service (SaaS) solutions, for instance, is likely to surge as we adapt to this ‘new normal’. It is essential to understand what businesses will be looking for in their efforts to adapt, and where SaaS can help.
It’s had transformative effects for businesses too. Of course, it’s not feasible for everyone to work from home. However, remote work with the advent of digital workplace tools is transforming the way we do business, from full-scale work-from-home arrangements to occasional virtual meetings. Remote work is here to stay, and here are just some of the reasons why:
1. Remote Workers Are Happier and More Productive
The remote revolution in business communications is already well advanced. But some employers are still stuck in the old mindset that if they can’t see what their employees are doing at any given time, they must not be doing very much. In actual fact, this isn’t true. Study after study has indicated that people who work from home aren’t just happier that they don’t have to trek into the office every day, but they actually get more work done as well. This just goes to show that trusting your employees can work for everyone concerned.
It makes sense when you think about it. Working from home does away with the need for a lengthy and tiring commute. There’s no more cramming yourself onto buses, trams, or trains in order to get to work. This wasted time and energy has genuine detrimental effects. It has adverse effects on mental health by making workers more stressed. It also leaves them with less time to look after themselves — by taking exercise and preparing healthy meals, for example. Working from home allows people to devote more time to this.
In addition, long commutes can also have a negative effect on productivity. They mean earlier rises in the morning, which can affect sleep. Likewise, fighting your way onto public transport, or getting caught in rush-hour traffic, is a draining experience. This all means that by the time you get into work, you’ve already expended valuable energy. That’s energy that you could put to other, more productive uses. An employee who’s persistently tired is more prone to making mistakes and getting distracted from their work.
But as we’ve noted, a lot of employers still find it difficult to relinquish control. They don’t feel able to give employees the freedom to work remotely. They might think that if they aren’t able to keep a watchful eye on their employees, those employees will abuse the privilege. Yet, generally speaking, the opposite is more likely to be the case. Workers are quite capable of managing their own workloads and taking responsibility themselves. In any case, offices are full of their own distractions. Home can be a quieter place to focus on your work.
2. Office Space Is Expensive
There’s great economic uncertainty at the moment, and it’s not clear how quickly the global economy will bounce back. What that means is that businesses will be looking to cut back on overhead wherever they can — office space is one of the most significant.
Remote work is becoming increasingly commonplace and proving to be a practical alternative. Hence, many employers will wonder whether they really need all that office space. This is not to suggest that these firms will switch to digital-only working arrangements, of course. In addition to the practicalities, having physical office space still gives businesses a prestige they would otherwise lack. But it will increasingly make financial sense to scale down office space and save money on rents, where this is practical.
According to one survey, 45% of US workers are working remotely on at least a part-time basis and 16% of global companies are fully remote. Remote work will help firms keep their overhead reined in while the economy remains fragile.
3. Remote Work Gives Firms a Wider Choice of Talent
Any entrepreneur worth their salt recognizes that recruiting the right talent is everything. But finding the right people is always a major challenge for employers. One reason for this is that, ordinarily, they’re restricted to recruiting people who either already live within commuting distance or are prepared to relocate. Relatively few people are happy to uproot themselves and do the latter — particularly those with families. This makes it that bit harder for employers to find the talent they need.
One of the advantages of remote work is that it potentially allows employers to recruit from a wider and more diverse pool of talent. It goes without saying that face-to-face contact between colleagues remains important in certain circumstances. However, instead of requiring employees to locate themselves close to the workplace, employers can now hire people who live many miles away.
Firms based in the larger cities are already at an advantage when it comes to hiring, having more people based locally who they can recruit. But when there’s a huge worldwide pool of talent to choose from, it makes sense for employers to take advantage of that. Those that do will find themselves at an advantage.
Workers are becoming more and more accustomed to remote work. There will come a time when many simply don’t want to give up the enhanced freedoms it offers. Employers, in their turn, will have to adapt to this new reality. Those that remain set in their ways and don’t make allowances for remote work, even where there’s demand for it among prospective employees, will risk falling behind their more flexible competitors.
4. Flexibility Is Good for Business
Flexibility has been one of the buzzwords of modern business for many years. Remote work helps take business flexibility to a new level, from SMS-based customer support to video meetings. It’s going to be a fact of life from here on in, so if, for example, you need an introduction to cloud technology, now’s a good time to familiarize yourself.
Inspiration can strike us anywhere, not just in the office. In fact, being in the office might be counterproductive to inspiration. Remote work allows for greater flexibility in this sense as well. Part of the reason for this is that it allows us to do away with many of the distractions of the office and concentrate purely on our work. We can streamline the entire work process. That means eliminating all those inessential meetings and a lot of menial tasks. This can have a genuinely transformative effect on the way we approach our work.
The rapidity of the shift to remote work should give us real reasons for optimism. Businesses, like people themselves, are incredibly resilient and capable of extraordinary innovation. The future of work is changing. So long as there is a continued demand for remote work, and companies continue to reap the benefits, then it will continue to be a big part of our working lives.
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform with a business phone line app for better and easier team collaboration. Dialpad is also known for its call forwarding software to further maximize businesses’ growth. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content.
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