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Global Benefits of Flexible and Remote Workplaces

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How does the rest of the world perceive remote work? In this article, we explore the global benefits of remote work and how international employers and professionals benefit from telecommuting. 

Global Benefits of Flexible and Remote Workplaces

Companies around the world are continuing to embrace alternative work arrangements to ensure they stay competitive and retain talented staff. Some focus on redesigning their workspaces to create more energizing environments that support innovation and collaboration. Others offer flexible schedules, a Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE), and telecommuting options to give their workers the freedom they need to do their best work.

But does all this effort pay off? The answer is a resounding yes.

Flexible and Remote Workplace Trends Around the World

Here in the U.S., telecommuting was introduced in the 1970s and has since become commonplace, as many companies large and small now allow their staff to work from virtually anywhere. However, the remote work model was actually developed from a German experiment to boost efficiency and job satisfaction in the 1960s. Since then, industry leaders around the globe have sampled this progressive work style to see if it helps them save costs, increase productivity, and retain hard workers.

In March 2019, the International Workplace Group (IWG) published their annual IWG Global Workspace Survey on how flexible work environments have improved businesses and employees around the world. The results clearly show that telecommuting and remote work options are gaining momentum worldwide and that currently, over 50% of employees telecommute nearly half of each work week. Perhaps even more telling is that finding that over 80% of employees would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexibility.

Remote Work Global Benefits Trend 1: Improve Productivity

In addition to its other findings, IWG’s report found that 85% of companies are more productive with flexible work arrangements. The report also cited some staggering figures that prove telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements can dramatically boost business performance. Figures provided by Regus Workspace indicate that by 2030, the U.S., China, and India could add an additional $4.5 trillion, $1.4 trillion, and $376 billion to their annual economies respectively.

Remote Work Global Benefits Trend 2: Increase Workforce Diversity

Diversity is a major motivator for companies to switch to flexible and remote work environments. As LinkedIn reported in Global Recruiting Trends 2018: The 4 Ideas Changing How You Hire, 78% of respondents state that diversity is an essential component in modern hiring strategies. Employers find that diversity in the workplace often yields a more inclusive company culture, improved operational productivity, and broader customer engagement.

Remote Work Global Benefits Trend 3: Make Employees a Priority

Gallup points out in their 2017 State of the Global Workplace report that social and political changes are tightly interwoven with international economies and greatly influence employment capabilities. Of the global working population who hold full-time positions, Gallup reports that only 15% are engaged in their jobs. Thus, organizations who prioritize their employees’ needs and preferences have a better shot at boosting productivity and overall performance.

Remote Work Global Benefits Trend 4: Embrace Advancements in Technology

As evidence that telecommuting and workplace flexibility improve employment and economic conditions, Eurofound and the International Labour Office (ILO) published findings in their Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work. They note how advancements in technologies, especially mobile technologies, such as smartphones and tablets, create more portable employment opportunities for a broader range of workers.

Remote Work Global Benefits Trend 5: Increase Employment Levels

Finally, one of the key drivers across all nations is to increase job capacity and give employable persons more opportunities to participate in the labor force. For instance, Eurofound and ILO found that:

  • Japan promotes telecommuting and mobile working to boost employment rates in both the public and private sectors.
  • Multiple organizations in Argentina prioritize the development of telecommuting legislation to increase jobs and improve health and safety regulations for telecommuters.

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Telecommuting in the Global News

International newsfeeds are full of articles and commentaries on legislative advancements in the workplace and telecommuting trends. Here are some notable progressions that have recently contributed to the evolution of the global remote workspace.

New Telecommuting Legislation in the Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed a new law on December 20, 2018 to give private employers the option to offer a telecommuting work arrangement. Republic Act No. 11165, also known as the Telecommuting Act, mandates that employers and workers must follow the nation’s minimal labor laws, such as those related to work hours, compensation, holidays, and leave. The legislation also requires that employers treat remote workers the same as on-premise personnel by upholding applicable performance standards, allowing them to meet with colleagues, and providing the same training and opportunities for career advancement.

Some of the major concerns include data protection while working remotely and monitoring workers. However, the benefit is that more people may be able to participate in the workforce, which will help drive the economy.

France Embeds Telecommuting Into Business and Culture

France leads the way for telecommuting and flexible work environments. The nation adopted telecommuting legislation in 2005 and has since reduced stringent labor restrictions to give workers more autonomy and flexibility.

IWG found that 60% of French companies promote telecommuting to increase their adaptability, reduce time commuting, and retain employees. The major benefits they reap include increased productivity and diversity, which they view as enhancements to their workforce and keeps France a strong global leader.

South African City Presents a Practical Case for Remote Work

Horrendous traffic congestion and a lack of adequate public transportation have inspired the City of Cape Town to support remote work. The government is actively working with public and private sector organizations to implement alternative transport programs, such as car-pooling, and alternative work arrangements, such as flexible hours and telecommuting options.

Japan Wants 30% of Companies to Offer Remote Work Options by 2020

The Japanese government is pushing hard for telecommuting and flexible work models in the public and private sector. The idea is to increase employment across the nation and boost societal productivity. Recently, multinational conglomerate Hitachi has taken the lead by expanding their remote work program to 100,000 employees within a couple of years. They give staff the option to choose their telecommuting frequency and offer equipment to support their work-at-home needs. So far, they’ve seen a decrease in overtime hours and hope to continue reducing unnecessary time expenses.

Canadian Businesses Save Money with Telecommuting

With real estate costs averaging $10,000 annually per employee, Canadian companies increasingly offer remote work options to keep overhead low and employees happy. One company reduced spending from $20,000 per month to $200 per month by allowing employees to work from home and occasionally rent coworking spaces for meetings.

Companies also find that their talent pools expand when they hire remote workers who otherwise can’t afford to move to expensive urban centers. They also learned that work-from-home incentives retain their talent and decrease the significant costs of employee turnover.

Chile Promotes Telecommuting to Stay Family-Focused

In August 2018, Chile President Sebastián Piñera announced a new bill to improve the nation’s labor force through remote employment. The intention is to give workers more time to enjoy their lives and care for families and personal matters. They also hope to reduce time and resource waste, and forge a modernized workforce that keeps family as the focus.

The UAE Supports Work-Life Balance Through Teleworking Legislation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued telecommuting legislation in 2018 to help employees improve their family lives and career opportunities. The law defines the nature of teleworking and specifies both employer and employee responsibilities. For example, only UAE nationals who have worked for a company for at least six months can apply for a telework arrangement. Additionally, workplace health and safety is a significant concern, and employers can evaluate location conditions before allowing their staff to telework from home or an office.

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The Future of Global Telecommuting

Employers are being challenged to continuously evolve and improve their work environments to accommodate the preferences of talented employees. In their Workforce 2020 report, Oxford Economic and SAP predict that flexibility and diversity are essential for our future workforce. Key insights from the report include:

  • Compensation, flexible work locations, and flexible schedules are among the top concerns for employees.
  • There is a gap between what employees want and what employers offer, especially regarding flexible work arrangements.
  • Employers will increasingly rely on contingent workers to fill employment gaps and potentially reduce overall hiring costs.

Though flexibility is one of the most critical aspects, IWG notes that flexible work arrangements mean different things to different people, finding that work location greatly influences employee satisfaction. For instance, IWG found that:

  • 54% value work location freedom over a company’s reputation
  • 70% consider work location when researching jobs
  • 54% would rather have work location flexibility than more paid time off

Keeping talented employees around is the number one motivator for most businesses around the world, and as companies hire from a more diverse candidate pool, they need to consider the range of interests across different countries, cultures, and economies. As cultures continue to adapt, and more employees desire flexibility, employers are more willing to stray from conventional work arrangements to attract and retain high-performing, experienced professionals, and the next generation of workers.

Find Telecommute Jobs at Virtual Vocations

As IWG found, 75% of worldwide workers perceive flexible work arrangements as the new status quo. Thus, it’s increasingly easier to convince employers to offer remote work options and find new employers who incorporate telecommuting as part of their company culture.

Start by evaluating your current job, company, and industry to see if you’re a candidate for remote work. If you like your current job, you can propose a telecommuting arrangement with your current employer and use our proposal kit in the Virtual Vocations Telecommute Toolkit to help you achieve your goal.

If you want to switch gears and explore new opportunities, there are thousands of job openings in the Virtual Vocations database just waiting for you to apply. When you sign up as a Virtual Vocations member, you also get access to handbooks and guidance on setting up a home office, crafting winning resumes, and positioning yourself for success. Learn more about our services or sign up as a member to get the ball rolling.

What are some additional global benefits of flexible and remote workplaces? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us your thoughts on the digital nomad lifestyle. We’d love to hear from you!

iStock Photo Credit: 1. NiroDesign; 2. stevanovicigor; 3. 

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