The shift to remote work has been on the rise for years. From 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in people who work at least part-time from home. Now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly half of U.S. workers are working remotely. Researchers say it may not end here. It's projected that many workers will continue to work remotely, even after they are allowed to go back to work. The Annual IWG Global Workspace Survey revealed in 2019 that 80% of employees, when given two similar job offers, would turn down the one that does not offer flexible work. In the same survey, 85% of employees said that productivity has increased because of increased flexibility within the business.
Providing the option of allowing employees to work from home will give employees more freedom to choose in which environment they are most comfortable and productive. Giving employees the option will increase productivity as employees become more accustomed to the workspace of their choice. Increasing remote work opportunities will also decrease business expenses. With fewer employees working in the office, there is the option to downsize, and fewer amenities are necessary for the office, which will keep costs down.
Employees will experience the benefits of being able to balance their work and home responsibilities better when working remotely. Parents can adjust their work schedules to line up with their children's plans to spend more quality time with them. Individuals can complete household chores during breaks, and each person can tailor their work environment to their preferences and needs.
Not every employee thrives in a remote work setting. Some isolate themselves or get distracted, and therefore are not as productive as they would be in an office. Without coworkers to help hold each other accountable, employees risk getting less done in a day. The decrease in company communication may also result in fewer raises in salary or promotions. When managers don't come in direct contact with employees regularly, it can affect the way they see the employee, and whether or not managers overlook their employees' accomplishments. Each individual adapts differently. Some employees strive in their home environment, while others find it distracting, isolating, or even depressing. Many miss having regular interactions with their coworkers or feel they have lost a sense of community in the workplace when shifting to remote work.
How to be Successful
1. Know Yourself and Your Employees
If you are an employer looking to shift your employees to remote work permanently, it is essential to know your employees. If you are an individual looking to make the change, it is necessary to know yourself. There is no better time than now to test how you or your employees respond to remote work. If you can give them the option of either staying at home or coming back to the office when it is safe and allowed, it is best to let them decide. Each individual has different preferences and needs that make them more productive and content with their work, and understanding what those are is the first step to success.
2. Invest in the Proper Tools
Having the proper tools to succeed is just as important when working from home as it is in the office. Whether you're an employer or an individual considering the shift to remote work, having tools that are specially designed to meet your needs is critical for success. See how Summit Ergonomics can provide you with the tools you need to work from home.
3. Focus on Written Communication Skills
When you shift to remote work, you must sacrifice face-to-face communication, at least for the day-to-day. It is much more difficult to communicate online than when you can walk into your manager or coworkers workspace and ask them a direct question, or request assistance. Practice using consistent written communication, and utilize video-chat tools whenever possible to avoid losing important information in translation.
4. Adjust Until You Find What Works
If you are unable to work from an office, but working from home is distracting or isolating, there are always other ways to be successful regardless. There is the option to rent a small office space with a coworker, work from a public place part of the time, or take regular breaks to go for a walk, get a coffee, and interact with your peers. In this time of social-distancing, many of those things are challenging to do, but not impossible. Using video-chat tools such as Zoom can help keep you from becoming isolated. Taking regular breaks to stand up and walk around can help decrease distractedness. Adjusting to working from home is not easy for everyone. Learn what tools are best for you, and change up your routine until you find the sweet spot.
Bell, Bradford S. “Digital Commons ILR.” Digital Commons ILR, Cornell University, 2012, digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1943&context=articles.
“Global Research Reveals Flexible Working Matters to Employees.” IWG Global Workspace Survey - Flexible Working - IWG Plc, www.iwgplc.com/global-workspace-survey-2019.
Guyot, Katherine, and Isabel V. Sawhill. “Telecommuting Will Likely Continue Long after the Pandemic.” Brookings, Brookings, 6 Apr. 2020, www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/04/06/telecommuting-will-likely-continue-long-after-the-pandemic/.
Hering, Beth Braccio. “Remote Work Statistics for 2020: New Norms and Expectations.” FlexJobs Job Search Tips and Blog, FlexJobs.com, 13 Feb. 2020, www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/remote-work-statistics/.