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Remote working: should 2019 be the year you embrace a remote workplace?

To the traditional office worker, remote working may still seem like witchcraft from an alien world. However, to many it is becoming a successful move for businesses to take. Remote working is on the increase, and organizations worldwide have been reaping the benefits of this new way of working. Remote working may not be suitable for all, but it is certainly working for many modern businesses.

If you want to offer remote working as a perk, there are a number of things you need to think about to ensure it benefits both your business and its employees. Stephanie Holland, the founder of a boutique startup agency for freedom-seeking humans, says: "Creating a remote-first culture starts with the basic questions: What are our remote principles? How does being remote affect how we do things; our systems, processes and choice of tools? How does the head office promote, support and solidify the remote culture?

"You then need to apply the remote-first strategy to every corner of the business, from how you communicate with each other and your customers. This includes how information flows, where it’s stored, and how discoverable it is; how you hire, and on-board and off-board employees, all the way to how you have fun and connect around the ‘water cooler,’ and everything in between. A true remote-first culture ensures not only productivity, but also creativity and momentum in pursuit of your profit and impact goals. Then you can reap the limitless benefits of a remote workforce."

With all of that in mind, this post will look at whether 2019 should be the year that you and your company embrace a new remote structure...

Flexible Working

Remote working offers superb flexibility. Employees can easily work and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere in the world, be it at home or in a coffee shop. This is making it something that more people are searching for in a job, especially young tech savvy professionals. This isn’t because they are lazy millennials, but because they are the generation that truly understands and loves to utilise technology.

"Remote working is more flexible and even more effective, because it allows employees to work without restrictions. Additionally, it allows for the employee to work during peak hours where they might be more productive." Shemifhar Freytes, Commercial Acoustics

Remote working is also popular amongst parents. The ability to make work flexible and fit around people’s children and daily tasks is a huge benefit that can really help boost productivity for all parties. Emma Heuston, Author of The Tracksuit Economy - how to work from home productively and effectively, states that "the ability to work remotely has meant that she is not bound by her work and is able to decide where she lives. Remote working also gives her the autonomy over her day and schedule, particularly as she chooses to spread a 4 day working week over the 5 day week during school hours."

"Another huge benefit of working remotely is that it is a facility to overcome disruptions such as adverse weather, travel disruption and essential appointments." - I Heart New York

Elaine Rau of LadyBossBlogger adds, "working remotely definitely enhances flexibility if you are a disciplined person or team of people. Many people prefer one or the other, due to a need or wish to have more or less structure to their routine regarding work. The idea behind this is that people are more likely to get work done where they personally need to, rather than where they are are forced to. It definitely is something that is becoming more and more popular as technology advances - allowing almost all work to be able to be done anytime or anywhere depending on the nature of the work."

Enhanced Communication

Communication is Key. Many would think that having workers stationed in numerous locations would make communication harder. However, with today’s telecommunications technologies, it’s easier than ever. 

Technology is allowing workers to communicate more often, as well as freely and openly. This creates a communication culture where the team feel more comfortable and relaxed with one another. Group calls, meet ups, team video chats and the use of chat platforms such as Whatsapp are popular and extremely useful." - Alpine Security

Moreover, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is looking to conjoin Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram Chat to provide the ultimate chat platform. This is something that could streamline remote working communications.

Additionally, a communication culture aids collaboration, which is proven to better workplace performance. Legal & HR Remote Work consultant and founder of The Remote Expert adds that "proving all parties are on board with the remote work model, communication actually becomes better within a remote team. The reason for this is that without face to face contact, the team does not take things for granted and tend to spell things out more clearly in their emails, online chats and phone and video calls. Techniques such as screen sharing are also used which give communication and training a new aspect."

This enhanced communication can also aid management. As an employer or manager, being able to delegate and monitor from where ever you are is a huge benefit of remote working. This can be joining conference calls from the car or video chats from the train. Alongside this, time management is pinnacle to the success of remote working. Apps such as Teamwork allow employees to log their activity from wherever they work, in turn allowing employers to monitor performance.

Jacinta Richmond, a qualified journalist, respected fashion writer, former publicist and published author feels that communication is the key to remote working. She says: "If you open the doors to communication, if you communicate well and if your team communicates well, then it works well. Having to chase people and not just be able to call them into your office to ask if work is done and (if not) what you need to do to get them support is a drag. It's just the same as outsourcing any task."

However, as our expert, Zena Ryder from Boudica Writing points out, that there are pros and cons to remote working. She says: "I think whether remote working is right for you depends partly on your self-discipline. It can be great if you're able to get your work done despite the constant temptations of social media, Netflix, the fridge...

"I love the flexibility of being able to work whenever I want, to take a day off whenever I want, to help my homeschooling son with his Math when he needs me, and so on.

"Should we all become remote workers? I doubt it. Some people might have problems with social isolation. But I'm an introvert and I don't mind not seeing anyone (other than my family) during the work day. I do end up seeing people though — subjects I'm interviewing for stories, networking events, and fellow freelancers who are helping me out in one way or another."

Ultimate Security

Remote working comes with the need for moving your work space to a cloud-based system. This comes with fantastic benefits when it comes to securing your work and information. Cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive offer users a reliable back up system that will automatically sync to the cloud. This is done using software, and so in the case of damaged hardware, your work will remain safe. This also means that the same work can be accessed and edited in numerous locations by any number of employees who have been granted access.

The other element of security is that cloud stored data is safer. Cloud providers’ central focus is to keep data safe. The best way to think about this is that Google are likely to have far better cyber security than your business, simply due to the research and funding that they put into their own security.

Cloud services also offer the ability to kill devices and remotely lock them. Again, the best way to think about this is if you have ever lost your Debit or Credit Card. You can ring the bank and they can automatically block any transaction from it. Killing or locking remote devices is much the same.

Nikki Knieriem, Owner and Director of Mum-Me Fit Time, says: "With big plans to move interstate to a regional area and with young kids still at home, I knew I would need to take employment into my own hands. Working in my current industry, but also working remotely were at the top of my wish list and if you are creative enough, you can find a way to make it work. I’ve now been working as an Online Personal Trainer for one and a half years.

"One of my top tips is in regards to security. Ensure you have excellent technology systems in place and have a back up plan for when technology fails."

Jacinta Richmond, a qualified journalist, respected fashion writer, former publicist and published author feels that communication is the key to remote working. She says: "If you open the doors to communication, if you communicate well and if your team communicates well, then it works well. Having to chase people and not just be able to call them into your office to ask if work is done and (if not) what you need to do to get them support is a drag. It's just the same as outsourcing any task."

Better performance

Elena Korolkova, Founder of Kick Consulting, says: "Most of my work is done remotely and in my previous role as a Practice Manager of a large financial planning firm, I spent over 75% of my time working from home. I would come into the office 1 day every fortnight to get exposure to the culture and the social side, however, those days were much less efficient than the one I did from home.

"How is remote working more flexible? To allow for remote work companies have to migrate to KPI/Tasks-completed management style (most of the companies are still on the "hours-spent-in-front-of-the-computer" management style). Once the management starts to evaluate each person's performance by how they complete their tasks, it allows staff to do those tasks in their own when they are most focused and driven. Currently, there is a lot of time wasted by making sure people in the office meet their 8 hours per day quota and go home."‍‍

Selina Johnson says: "I’m a Business Support Expert providing elite Virtual Personal Assistant services to established entrepreneurs and small businesses remotely. Before I set up my business, I worked for a medium-sized company in London. I struggled with the work-life balance due to the long work-hours and 3-hour daily train commute to London and was on the brink of burnout with the physical and mental exhaustion of doing 13-hour days with little sleep, whilst caring for two children under the age of 3.

"Since launching my business I have halved my working hours and doubled my income, with no commute. My productivity and efficiency have increased and with this gained flexibility I am free to live the life I love. Now that I work remotely, I can talk about the advantages; high-level results I achieve in my business and clients, increase in productivity and free time to focus. Working remotely is the best thing I have ever done."

Paula Tucker, Founder of Spark CFO, says: "For me, working from home offers less distraction. There's less people, noise and general interruptions, so I'm generally more productive. This isn't the case for everyone though, and sometimes you need be disciplined and focused to make sure everything gets done."

"Marco Rosano from Soul and Wolf adds: "Remote work is incredibly more flexible. Remote team members are responsible for the delivery of their own work and so they manage their own time from wherever (in the world) they are. The very notion of 'sick leave' or 'annual leave' is then challenged. What is annual leave if someone is already working from a beach and can deliver work on their terms..."

When you think about performance you think about how much work is completed, to what quality and in what time. Kelly Wade, business content writer, copywriter and marketing strategist says "I think all businesses can benefit from hiring remote workers. Many businesses worry that it becomes too hard to keep up communications but in my experience remote workers tend to get more work done sooner. There are many reasons for this but the most prominent are that 1) remote workers can often work around commitments that would normally take them away from their desk (and thus would typically require them to take some form of leave); and 2) there’s much less water cooler chatter and fewer unnecessary meetings when working with remote staff"

Expert Insight...

"Varying up my location keeps me energised, and helps me think more creatively and bring fresh eyes to my writing. I work from everywhere from the lounge to the library, via coffee shops and cosy corners. The other day I was even on a boat! I think it keeps me stimulated and inspired, which has got to be good news for my clients." - Francesca Baker, andsoshethinks.co.uk

Likewise, Daan Liberta of techfrond. regards himself a digital nomad. This allows him to move around and travel whilst still running his business from his remote devices. Warning that "this lifestyle may not be fore everyone", he also adds that "if someone wants to make money online, they can because you can do it from wherever, whenever."

"Remote working has really changed our business. Avoiding traffic lets me save over 10 hours a week in commuting. With lots of online SAAS tools it is easier than ever to work as a team, even if you are not in the same physical space." - Aodhan at waster.com.au

"The most profitable business are those that trust their staff, invest in talent and are able to use the best people - no matter where they are located. "It is truly a global economy now, and many companies rely on talent in many countries, not just areas of the same city" - Joanna Wells - from taylorwells.com.au

"Remote working is a great way of rewarding your employees. Giving them flexibility, which is often needed but not available, gives them flexibility which, later on, can result in better overall work satisfaction. These, all together, make remote working a great solution for both employer and employees, creating a win-win situation which benefits the business itself." - Jakub Kliszczak from CrazyCall

"I am a firm believer that some sort of private and shared feedback is the best way to optimize team performance - especially in the discipline of sales. If staff are working remotely, you should consider using productivity measuring applications exist that can quickly provide a score based on how time was spent during the day. These apps work in the background, so require no effort to maintain. Once a day we have an email sent out to the team showing how they scored individually, and compared to their peers. This has been a wonderful way to share best practices and coach process improvement while keeping everyone focused on working effectively." - Crisantos Hajibrahim, Chief Product Evangelist at Prodoscore

"We started our business with a local remote team. Our team of 12 employees now work from their homes or the client's office. We started it this way because we couldn't afford to do it otherwise. Now there would be no point in offices, as my team would not be there (and would not want to be). This gives both the business and our team enormous flexibility and cost savings." - Natasha Hawker, Director of Employee Matters

"Working from home is not an opportunity to work in your PJs and keep on top of the laundry. It is a challenge to see how much productivity you can pack into a single day and how you can use the comfort of your home to deliver the best results to your clients.” - Janice Formichella from janiceformichella.com

"Working as a remote freelancer is flexible but hard. You get to enjoy the perks of working in your PJs and blasting music out loud. However, not many companies who have the budget need freelancers because they have them in-house already. Do not be fooled by all the stories of easy-money as a freelancer. They worked very hard (harder than a 9-5 worker) to land those big gigs that they've selectively shown to you. Thus, it's much more flexible as compared to the 9-5 but you have to work to  get there with a sustainable income too." - Jamie Cheng, Co-Founder of Digital Alpha Agency

"I have been remote working since 2004 when I left my role as a Brand Manager in high tech (video gaming) and began consulting in PR. Over the past decade and a half, the work place has transformed beyond recognition. My client's believe that is proven that remote based workers generate better effectiveness and results than onsite workers, plus they are happier (often). Communication is enhanced by office based teams being respectful of scheduled meetings as that is a focused time to interact with the remote worker, rather than sporadic communications and relying on bumping into them." - Leigh White, Coach and Communications Advisor

"We are a small team of people who have been making marketing campaigns and strategies for years now. We work in 5 locations, spread over 3 countries on 2 continents. We always, ALWAYS, use video-calling instead of email in order to get each others' knowledge, and discuss and share things. Video always works better, because you see what people mean. It was a game changer to make this our guideline: always see each other in the eye. It makes a big world small." - Harrie van der Lubbe, Full-Stack Creative Developer at Call TheONE

"Remote working has become so popular that everyone is looking for freelance jobs nowadays. Content marketing, graphic design, social media management, email outreach, video producers and almost every field of work is available online right now. I think this is the best time in human history where failure is so difficult now. Everyone can succeed with the right efforts. I think we should all become remote workers. Becoming a freelancer gives you a wider perspective to enjoy your life, to spend time with family, to be your own boss, and make money with peace." - Kulwant Nagi, Blogger at Blogging Cage

If you are looking to go remote in 2019, please don’t hesitate to find out more about how it can help your business on our blog. You can also request a quote to find the best deals on cloud computing services for contact centres.To the traditional office worker, remote working may still seem like witchcraft from an alien world. However, to many it is becoming a successful move for businesses to make. Remote working is on the increase, and organizations worldwide have been reaping the benefits of this new way of working. Remote working may not be suitable for all, but it is certainly working for many modern businesses. This post will look at whether 2019 should be the year that you and your company embrace a new remote structure.

February 18, 2019