It might have been a while since Yahoo CEO’s Marissa Meyer’s set out her controversial stance against remote working, but it’s still a sore point in the digital world. In February, the company’s remote employees were told that, by June, they would need to be working in Yahoo offices. If they refused or weren’t able to, they should quit. It was branded by many as myopic and criticized by those who had been enjoying the benefits of telecommuting for years. But what exactly are the benefits of working remotely?
Freedom of Choice
From a business’ perspective, hiring remote workers makes a lot of sense. You broaden your pool of potential employees enormously: in theory you can hire someone who lives on the other side of the world or just in a neighbouring city. They don’t need to worry about a stressful, costly relocation and having to uproot their existing life; you don’t need to worry about them moving in the future, say if their partner needs to move, because they can perform their role from anywhere. In terms of job satisfaction, that’s a huge plus. And from a management point of view you can focus more on analysing the quality of work that employees produce rather than how long they seem to sit in front of their computers. Remember, however, that remote working doesn’t fit with every company and you will want to fully assess the benefits before implementing any sort of telecommuting regime.
The best thing about remote working is that technology is now very much on your side: to manage projects and delegate tasks you can use Basecamp; to collaborate and sync documents between various employees and locations Google Drive works brilliantly; time spent on tasks can be tracked using Toggl; Skype can be used for instant messaging or Google Hangout for a more personal communication. In terms of more sophisticated setups, companies like Ericom, industry-leaders in remote access solutions, offer quick and easy desktop virtualisation software that enables users to connect to remote computers from any location. This can be useful not only from the perspective of IT support for remote workers but also for sharing applications and documents with employees.
People Work Harder
Sure, there will be the odd employee who skives off more when working from home but it just isn’t the case for the majority of people. And bosses are naïve if they think workers in office don’t procrastinate – in fact there tend to be more distractions, especially from colleagues. Remote workers tend to put in more hours because they don’t have a long commute, can work more flexibly and have a private office. They also tend to repay trust by not skimping on their workload. Bear in mind that remote workers can quickly feel isolated if there isn’t enough communication from management, so keep them in the loop as much as possible. With the technology covered in the previous point that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.