Remote work:
the good, the bad and the future

Remote working was already increasingly popular, but it skyrocketed during Covid. All of a sudden, everyone had to work from home and companies had to get creative to make this work. In the meantime, quite a few of us went back to the office, but not all. Hybrid working is very popular now. According to Forbes, in the US in 2023 no less than 12.7% of full-time employees worked from home, while 28.2% worked a hybrid model. Is remote work a good idea? And how do you handle it?

Remote work is good for business

If you implement it well, remote work is an excellent idea for most. As we discussed earlier, there is a business case for remote work. This case is presented in a report by Global Workplace Analytics. The report, drawing from a wide range of research papers and surveys, provides compelling evidence of the benefits of remote work, not just for employers and employees, but also for the environment and society at large.

The benefits for those with remote-compatible jobs are omnipresent and can be summarized into three categories:

  • Employee benefits
    Employees who can work remotely at least a few times a week can save on three valuable commodities: time, money, and health. For instance, remote work eliminates the daily commute, potentially saving U.S. workers the equivalent of 28 days a year.

  • Employer benefits
    Employers also stand to gain from remote work. These benefits include reduced overhead costs, increased productivity, and access to a bigger talent pool. Imagine if you could hire the best worldwide, instead of the best within a one-hour commute of the office!
    Remote working saves money too. Research says employers can save $11,000 per employee when switching to remote work. Eleven thousand. Just saying.

  • Environmental & societal benefits
    The environmental benefits of remote work are clear, with fewer commuters leading to reduced carbon emissions. Society also benefits from the reduced strain on infrastructure and public transportation systems.

This sentiment is echoed in a survey where a staggering 95 percent of U.S. employees expressed their preference for some form of remote work.

This aligns with our mission: to make work more fun (and teach you how to do that)

At Corporate Rebels, we want to increase happiness at work. Remote work offers the flexibility and autonomy that can make work more enjoyable and effective. It allows employees to tailor their work environment to their needs, thereby increasing satisfaction and productivity.

Remote work aligns with our commitment to explore progressive ways of working. It's not just about working from home, it's about reimagining work in a way that prioritizes people's happiness and well-being. This creates workplaces that are more human, more engaging, and more fun. Just what we like!

Find out what's crucial to make working remote successful

In our journey as Corporate Rebels, we've encountered numerous organizations that have successfully implemented remote work. These organizations serve as inspiring examples of how remote work can lead to happier employees and huge business successes.

In fact, you can follow their footsteps by starting with our courses.

Read more about our views on remote work

01.
The Ultimate Remote Work Policy (In 3 Words)
With corona virus hitting the world, it seems impossible to open a browser or app without remote work tips...
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02.
Remote Work Is NOT Working The Remote
The vast majority of employers have been fiercely against the idea of remote work for ages. Before the pandemic hit...
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03.
Potential Blindspots In Leading Remote Teams
For many organisations, it’s been more than six months now working remotely. The team Zoom quizzes are...
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Challenges of remote working:

There is a strong case to be made that remote work should not be polarized into a yes or no option — either everyone in the office or everyone remote. Instead, a balanced approach, where the optimal mix of remote and office work can be tailored to the specific needs of each organization, is a healthy approach.

Having said that, there are some challenges that remote workers face. Here are some.

Bad communication (and less collaboration)

The fear most companies had or have with remote working staff members (aside from trust, but that needs to be dealt with on a management and recruitment level) is bad communication. There are no in-person meetings, and the water cooler chitchat is gone (although this can be organized online as well). Wouldn’t that make people lose touch with coworkers? How can we connect on a personal level? And how do we even know what others on working on? Those are all relevant questions. Luckily, remote working isn’t groundbreaking nowadays anymore. Tools are in place. Models, even. You can learn from organizations, both big and small, that have done this for a long time. Like Shopify, a big e-commerce platform. Or Patagonia (outdoor clothing), or Auttomatic (web development in the broadest sense).

Bad work-life balance

Work-life balance is often one of the reasons in favor of remote work. Especially when employees work from home, the boundaries easily blur. It’s easy to put in overtime to finish a project because you don’t have to physically go to the office. You’re always there, in a sense.

Good scheduling helps. There are many tools available for teams. For some, set work hours work well. Sometimes that’s even essential when you have to cooperate with others. It helps to set boundaries and stick to them.

Distractions

When you’re in the office, you’re there to work. Nothing else. At home, a lot of other stuff is happening. Laundry, deliveries, maybe even child care. Not to mention social media, TV, or phone calls. Those are all huge distractions for remote workers. For any worker, but they’re much less common in an office environment.

We won’t lie. Remote work requires a certain amount of discipline. Do you struggle with that? Set ground rules for yourself and make them clear to family, friends, and roommates. You have to take your own work time seriously, or the previously mentioned work-life balance will be jeopardized. Have packages delivered at a pickup point. Close your home office door (if possible) or work in a co-work space. When you work, you should be able to. So set yourself up for success.

A schedule with deliverables also helps. Make sure everyone on the team checks in regularly to support each other, but also hold one another accountable.

Remote work across timezones

When a company hires remote working talent, there are no borders or boundaries. This can mean team members work from different time zones. Colleagues may not be directly available for urgent questions.

Good planning is essential. Catching these questions before they become urgent, so everyone can proceed with their work, is important. A thorough project launch helps, as this is where relevant team members share information. Clarity is key with teams that are spread around the world.

On a company level, guidelines or a handbook are good to have. Or a monthly meeting where all ongoing affairs are discussed. Here at Corporate Rebels we call it Rebel Day. Full transparency, everybody gets involved.

Trust in remote work

The biggest issue management usually has with remote working, is that there’s less control. You can’t actually SEE that people are working. For some, that’s a difficult transition. How do you measure performance?

A lot of the quality work is still done together, in video meetings or phone calls. It is hard to measure that. But in most cases, you can measure results.

So set clear goals and KPIs. Not just for projects, but also personally for each team member. Make sure everyone is accountable for their results and the part they play in the team. If you’re a remote worker, make sure the work you do is clear. Try to show results, but also your process. Communication is key.

What doesn’t work? Trying to monitor everyone. Micromanaging has a bad rep for a reason. It is possible, for sure. There’s a lot of software for it. The search term ‘employee monitoring’ was very popular in the early days of the pandemic.

However, it does not contribute to psychological safety. It doesn’t grow initiatives. And it’s a killer for innovation.

So, how do you set up a remote team properly?

That is the million-dollar question. Subscribing to our courses is a good place to start. You can learn how to transform your organization, boost psychological safety (essential for remote staffers) or how to distribute work into autonomous roles.

The future of remote work

According to Upwork an estimated 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025. That’s about 22% of the workforce. Another survey shows 98% of workers want to work remotely or in some hybrid way.

So there’s a decent chance we’re heading that way. Millennials (and soon Gen Z) are the bulk of the workforce at the moment. In general, they value flexibility and a good work-life balance.

If an organization isn’t onboard with at least a form of hybrid working, they may miss out on talent. So set up the tools and workspace, communication lines, and get on board. When it’s done well, everyone will benefit.

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