Written by Mat Calica, Content Manager at www.AllianceVirtualOffices.com
The way we work is changing beyond recognition. If not yet obsolete, the 9-5 office routine is at the very least falling out of favour with the working population who see work as something they do not go to. As individuals, employees and consumers, we value flexibility more than ever before.
It’s not surprising either – many of us juggle work and family while trying to maintain some semblance of social life. Luckily for us, technology is enabling us to be more flexible in all aspects of our lives.
Apps are the apex of convenience, saving us both time and money, and portable devices mean we can work on the move as a digital nomad or from the comfort of our homes. To meet this demand, companies are changing the way they operate by offering flexible work options.
Adapting is critical if these companies are to attract and retain the employees they need in order to compete and grow. Today, the majority of the US workforce is made up of Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996).
In a Deloitte survey about Millennial attitudes towards work and the workplace, 75% of respondents say they would like more opportunities to work remotely, and just over half believe having the opportunity to work remotely would have a positive impact on productivity.
Understanding remote work
Although remote working is a relatively new concept, it’s a simple one. To understand what it means, it’s helpful to consider the three main remote work contexts a person could find themselves in. (Remote working is also often referred to as telecommuting.)
This is someone who works for a company as a direct employee. But instead of commuting to the office each day, they might work remotely some, if not all of the time, usually at home. Increasingly, employers are providing their remote workers with access to a desk memberships in a coworking space close to where they live
A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and often works on a project basis for companies, for multiple companies at a time or a bit of both. Some freelancers are required to work in their client’s office but many work remotely, again from home, cafes or coworking spaces.
Remote business owner
Some people decide to run their own business remotely from a home office. Technology has made it much easier to run a business from home than it used to be and owners can operate solo or with a lean team, utilizing freelancers for projects to avoid hiring permanent staff.
It can be a challenge to build brand credibility when working from home but that’s where a virtual officecomes in. A virtual office provides remote companies with a business address and telephone number, as well as access to bookable meeting rooms.
Recent trends in remote work
70% of professionals work remotely at least once a week, according to a study by IWG, and it’s anticipated that by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be remote. Some countries such as the UK are proposing that employers should offer flexible options like remote working as a default – not something employees should have to request.
The widespread adoption of flexible working is also down to larger corporations buying into the flexible work culture in a bid to attract and retain talent and cut office space costs. This coincides with the rising popularity of coworking spaces where employers can scale up or down at short notice.
There’s a lot of research out there that shows remote working makes us more productive too. In a 2018 report by OwlLabs, researchers found that those who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to feel happy and productive in their roles than those who don’t. They also found that the #1 reason that people choose to work remotely is to increase their productivity and focus.
Why working from home is good for business
There are so many logical reasons as to why working from home is good for business, not least of all because it can benefit the bottom line. A study by Global Workplace Analytics finds that if those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time a typical business would save $11,000 per person per year.
Furthermore, telecommuters themselves could expect to save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year on commuting costs and the greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road!
For anyone starting a business, working from home is seriously worth considering. Not only is it easier to achieve a better work life balanced due to time saved on the commute and increased productivity, it keeps set up costs to a minimum too.
Although flexible solutions are more widely available now, renting an office can be expensive and also unnecessary, especially in the early days. Again, a virtual office can still provide useful facilities like conference rooms for client meetings and training sessions when needed.
As the gig economy grows and the need for flexible options becomes even more important, we can expect to see the number of employees offering remote options to rise.
In the words of Microsoft’s Dave Coplin: “We are stuck in old ways of managing, communicating and collaborating. We measure success by process not by outcome. It is time to harness the power of collaboration and flexible working to rethink the way we work towards a better, more agile, more creative working environment.”