Online remote work is on the rise. The freedom provided by broadband digital data networks is all the more desirable in a global environment where unemployment is turning into labor shortage on key markets and high skill professions, like Information Technology. This is not about unicorn millennials anymore - this is a vast, fundamental shift which presents a valuable business opportunity for those who can adapt to it, while being an existential threat to the companies who do not realize the consequences in time.
One key aspect, now backed by science, is that working remotely is not a convenience for the workers. It is actually the better way to work: 86% of all employees asked by SurePayroll said that their output is higher if they work remotely, away from the distractions of office life. That’s cute, you could say, of course the worker will prefer working without supervision. However, after almost a decade of steady rise in freelancing and remote work, we now have the data that backs this bold claim up. It’s not just a psychological self-deception, because the managers of remote workers report better outputs too. Employing remote workers is making more money for the company, and that’s a hard fact.
One would think that remote work is preferred, because slacking remotely is easier. However, remote, and especially contract workers who get paid by project completion phases are proven to get more done in the same amount of time than office workers on a salary. A PGI research came to the conclusion that remote workers experience less stress, 80% of them thinks they are actually work harder when they are working remotely, and 69% of them miss less working hours.
Now, these arguments are hard to fight from a business standpoint. If you can do your business better with remote workers, you obviously should do so. The problem is that this is still a relatively new phenomena which requires a drastic change in how businesses operate. So we are looking at some inevitable entry costs, such as reorganization, relocation, restructuring, training new tools and methods on every level of the company, in exchange for higher work value and lower operational costs on the long run.
Old habits die hard. Integrating remote work in any serious company structure is inevitable and already happening for decades now, under the guise of offshoring, shared service centers and calling remote work ‘home office’, which is a laughable attempt at keeping the all-so-serious tone of major corporations while they are sending the employees away from their offices for a few days a week, for reasons of keeping office costs down. The question is, how smoothly can a business shift away from gathering people together in a brick-and-mortar facility and work together for the common cause in the same office space, towards a completely location-independent business model?
One could say that those have it the easiest who build towards remote from scratch. NVision, founded in 2011 employs 700 workers, all of them remotely. Which means they actually rent no office space. You might think they were visionaries, setting up a remote team so early, but no: they were being practical. They calculated the costs, the amount of money they could save as a fledgling startup with zero square meters of office space, and the numbers were so convincing that they went for it. As you can see, nVision was able to scale into a success story, but they stayed true to this philosophy. They could pay for rent now, but they never went back, which means that they can recruit that kind of top talent who know their work will never suffer from any drawbacks that can happen when you need to integrate into a core office team as a remote addition.
First, the remote worker is proven to create more value in the same amount of time, doing the same work, as the office counterpart.
Second, the more you can scale back your location-based workforce, the less your operation costs will be.
And third, remote workers are not only more effective, but if you are willing to take part in the gig economy and you strive to become a good partner for a network of freelancers, your human resource costs can go down immensely while your contract workers create the same, or better value for you as your permanent employees.