There is no doubt remote work is rapidly growing. One of the more recent studies showed that by 2028 nearly 73 percent of employers will have some remote workers in their team.
If you’re a manager who’s faced with the decision to let your employees work outside the traditional office environment it pays to evaluate the benefits of such working arrangement but also to get familiar with the common myths that surround remote work.
Even though there are a lot of companies successfully working remotely today, there are no crash courses on how to build a remote-first company. The best you can do is learn from the example of others ie companies like Automatic (the company behind WordPress), Buffer (a popular social media scheduling tool), Zapier (web applications workflow automation tool), and, why not, Bejamas (Jamstack web dev shop).
What is Remote Work?
Remote work refers to a job that is done outside of the office. As a remote worker you can work from anywhere (usually home or a co-working space) as long as you have access to the internet. Commuting and going to the office at the company's headquarters is not necessary in order to complete the work tasks.
Basically, remote work allows people to work outside the traditional 9-5 office environment.
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Why Do People Work Remotely?
Everybody has their own WHY when it comes to working remotely but it all comes down to the benefits that remote work offers that resonate with the individual. I’ll discuss these later on.
How do People Work Remotely?
The beauty of remote work is in the freedom to choose from where, when, and how you will complete given work tasks. There are a couple of variations as to what companies deem to be remote work.
For instance, some companies allow their employees to be away for the majority of the working week. Other companies request their employees to show up at least once or twice per week to attend meetings or discuss certain work-related things. This is an ideal combination for those that are looking to split up time that's spent in the office and working remotely.
For everyone else, working remotely typically means working in a home office, cafe, or co-working space (just so you know, beach counts as co-working space).
Home is a great place to get work done especially for people who have children. Eliminating commuting allows them to have extra quality time with their kids and significant others.
Other remote workers prefer co-working spaces since they offer great networking opportunities and are hubs of creativity. On top of that many co-working spaces offer various means of support, for example, accounting for freelancers or entrepreneurs and learning possibilities.
Misconceptions About Remote Work
There are many myths and misconceptions that surround remote work. Both workers and employers are guilty of believing in some or all of them. Let me uncover just a few.
Remote Workers Earn Less
A lot of people believe this myth although the opposite is actually true. In the US alone, remote workers earn on average $4,000 more per year. Nearly 75 percent of them earn more than $65,000 per year which puts them in the upper 80th percentile of all workers.
Remote Work Is Reserved for Millennials
Flexible schedules and the ability to travel are attractive to everyone, not just millennials. In fact, half of the remote workers are over the age of 45. Parents, caregivers, students, retired people - they can all reap benefits from remote work while juggling their everyday tasks and responsibilities.
Remote Work Is Just for IT Professionals
Of course, the IT industry leads the way when it comes to the number of remote jobs it offers. But IT professionals are not lonely! Positions for remote employment exist in a wide array of categories such as customer support, marketing, design, teaching, finance, pharmaceuticals, and more.
Remote Work Is All Fun and Games
People usually think that remote workers sit at home watch TV and have fun while the only thing they need to do is have a laptop ready to reply when needed. The truth of the matter is that just like any other, businesses that rely on remote workers want results. It’s true that in many cases you can organize your time to your liking. However, the truth is also you have to deliver results.
Benefits of Remote Work (or why Workers Prefer Non-Traditional Setting)
So, now I’ve uncovered some of these preconceived notions about remote work let’s take a look at the real benefits it offers and why workers around the world prefer this model of work.
Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit of remote work is a flexible schedule. This, in turn, means you can plan your day much better and work when you feel freshest or most productive. There is a drawback to a flexible schedule that people usually don’t think about. Read on, I’ll talk about it later.
A survey done by Connect Solutions revealed that 77 percent of workers reported being more productive while working remotely as opposed to in-house work.
Working away from a formal office atmosphere was less stressful for most people. They didn't have to deal with the noise, office distractions, socializing during working hours, etc. which all reduce their ability to concentrate. A lot of people perform badly while being micromanaged and working remotely allows them to produce better work with less pressure.
Also, not being physically present at the company motivated them to keep working hard. The study proved this - remote workers tend to put in nearly 6 to 7 extra hours of work per week compared to their office colleagues.
More Family Time
Many parents know the struggle of balancing family time and work. Spending quality time with loved ones can feel difficult to accomplish in an already busy day filled with work tasks, commuting, and a long list of chores.
The time that would typically be spent on commuting can be redirected to quality family time like doing fun things together, going for a walk, preparing dinner together, and so on.
Less stress and better work-life balance.
Ability to Travel
When working remotely, you are not tied to your geographical location. You have the freedom to explore the globe, get immersed in different cultures and learn new things, visit friends or family who live in other countries, and more.
A lot of people decide to move to countries with cheaper living costs which allows them to save more. Some of the most popular destinations for remote work include Thailand, Vietnam, Hungary, Bulgaria, and others.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours! All you need is a reliable internet connection.
Better Health and Wellness
People who work in the office are at a greater risk for obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco, and alcohol use. They also tend to take more days off. This is especially true for Mondays and Fridays.
Commuting is another factor that adds additional stress to workers’ lives. In the UK alone, more than 55 percent of workers reported feeling stressed because of commuting and almost 90 percent of the workforce spends 56 minutes of traveling on average. Remote workers use this extra time to exercise, walk, get involved in team sports, or work on their hobbies.
Remote workers save more money compared to office workers. Obviously, as a remote worker, you save money on commuting but you can also save on food, ie. making your own food vs restaurants and snacks. And if you are a parent, thanks to the ability to plan your days ahead you can save on child care fees as well.
Benefits for Companies
Companies benefit from remote work as well. For one, fewer people in the office mean drastically decrease in the recurring office fees for example. Two, offering a remote option to potential employees means that the global workforce is up for grabs. A bigger, better, broader pool of talents is at their disposal. Finally, the flexibility that remote work brings to the table has a positive impact on employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention.
Drawbacks of Remote Work
Remote work is not all fun and rainbows. It has its own set of drawbacks that you should be aware of.
Remote Work Carries the Risk of Distractions. Just Like Offices Do
At home, you might get carried away browsing the internet or you might have trouble concentrating if you’re a stay-at-home parent and your kids are around.
Cafes and co-working spaces can be filled with different kinds of noise or music, a guy who decides to rant to someone over the phone while you’re doing an important task, people who want to initiate the conversation at the wrong moment, etc.
You’ll have to make some hard decisions and stick by them.
Remote Work Carries the Risk of Burnout
Perhaps one of the biggest struggles for remote workers is to set clear boundaries between their work life and personal life. For some, unplugging from work can be hard. Since all they need is an internet connection, remote workers can get carried away and continue working past their original and predetermined work hours. That’s why remote workers should do their best to enforce the number of hours they’ll work every day, just like they would do at the traditional office.
People Forget It Is Still Work
People tend to forget that even though you can flex your schedule that benefit is for you, not them. So they take it for granted expecting you can take breaks whenever you want. After all, you work from home, right?
Remote Work Carries the Risk of Isolation and Loneliness
For many people, Skype calls and regular Slack chats won’t be enough to satisfy the hunger for social interactions. Isolation and loneliness can affect remote workers’ mental health and have serious consequences on their well-being but also work performance.
It’s not all gloom and doom. A good organization, having a dedicated office space, setting clear boundaries, and establishing regular face-to-face time with other remote workers and colleagues can significantly reduce the troubles, struggles, and challenges of remote work.
How We Do It: Remote Work Culture at Bejamas
Running a remote team is no easy task, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible.
Working remotely influences not only your style of working but also your living. That’s the main reason why it’s not the right choice for everyone. Without the right dose of organization and good habits, you may fall into the trap of working overtime or underperforming.
To avoid the wave of dissatisfaction and stress, at Bejamas, we are scheduling our daily tasks and meetings in the same way we would do it while working in the same office. You don’t need to use several different tools at the same time. Start with Google Calendar, define the time slots for your tasks, and regular notifications as reminders.
The same comes with communication channels. Don’t spread your daily discussions between different places. When using Slack, place your topics in private or public channels and clarify the subjects. If your business requires fast and regular responses from clients, don’t be afraid of moving your conversations there. We can’t imagine more direct contact than these in our own working space. Sometimes, our battlefield too.
Even if you’ve got the right set of tools to communicate, it’s worth nothing until you don’t express your thoughts precisely. That’s one more challenge remote-first companies we are facing. You can’t step away from your desk and come to your teammate anytime to discuss the latest issues/problems/fun topics. And we all have tons of workload and sometimes we’re not up to speed with all the topics but we are no longer afraid of...asking. Stupid questions don’t exist - get out of the feeling that you’re asking because you are less skilled.
Finally, we aim to have fun and enjoy our work time. YES, we are all so busy and engaged in our daily tasks and fun is the last thing we think about. But we do use our short breaks during the workday to catch up with teammates, post funny memes on our internal channel, or the must-read news. A little smiley never killed (or fired) nobody.
As I mentioned at the beginning there are no magic wands, crash courses, or even a set of rules that can be applied to every distributed team. As a remote team of independent thinkers, we share the same values that make things work like a charm.
Finding those values, however hard it was, is what glued the team together.
Interested to see if our values match yours? Checked our careers page. BTW we really could use your help in shipping better work to our clients and making our retreats much more interesting.