Remote Work Culture (and the future of your company)

Feb 6, 2020

Work cultures have seen a drastic change in the last decade. With the Internet allowing for greater connection and collaboration online, working from anywhere has become an option that many companies are adopting. 

Odds are, you’ve heard of this trend, even if your company doesn’t use this strategy. But how many companies are actually allowing their employees to work remotely?

According to Global Workplace Analytics, around 4.3 million Americans currently work from home at least half the time. That number has increased by over 140% in the past 15 years.

Just because this trend has seen an uptick in recent years, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad things that come with integrating this new work culture into your business. 

Pros of a Remote Work Culture

No Employee Commute 

One of the more obvious reasons for ditching a traditional work environment is the argument for telecommuting over a regular commute to work. Not only does this keep stress levels down, it also considerably reduces costs for employers and employees over time. According to CNN, telecommuting saves employees an average of $4,000 a year by cutting costs for gas, parking, and public transit prices. 

The same study found that telecommuting can save employers around $11,000 a year when an office space isn’t needed. 

More Flexibility with a Work/Life Balance

As the younger generation enters the workforce, one thing has emerged as a top priority in choosing (and more importantly sticking with) a job: flexibility. Not only do Millennials crave more flexible jobs, 77% of them believe flexibility makes them more productive, according to a Bentley University study. 

Whether it’s increased family time, more opportunities to travel, or simply saving money on gas, working remotely provides much of the flexibility that many people are looking for in a job. Needless to say, flexibility is more frequently equated with job satisfaction, especially for Millennials who now make up the majority of the workforce. 

According to Stephane Kasriel, CEO of the online freelance platform, Upwork, “Companies that refuse to support a remote workforce risk losing their best people and turning away tomorrow’s top talent.”

As time goes on, flexibility and remote work opportunities will most likely go hand in hand for the younger generation. 

This isn’t to say that remote work cultures are perfect. Here are a few of the arguments against these new work environments. 

Cons of a Remote Work Culture

Less Face-to-Face Team Interaction

It’s easy to see how communication can become difficult when employees aren’t working in the same space every day. While technology has helped a great deal in keeping remote teams connected, nothing can replicate the face-to-face interactions that teams have in an office space every day. This challenge simply requires teams to plan ahead and stay intentional about maintaining a collaborative spirit. Not only does this help keep teams productive, it also reduces the effects of loneliness that many people can feel when working alone. 

No Work and Home Life Separation

Now this can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Like I mentioned earlier, working remotely offers huge potential for flexibility and can help greatly with the work/life balance. But it can also create difficulties with distractions on a daily basis, as other pressing matters might take precedent over work priorities. 

It’s safe to say that this comes down to setting clear expectations with your team and making sure you have team members that will hold themselves accountable (and each other accountable) for getting the work done that needs to be completed.

How to Manage It

As my team has transitioned to working remotely for part of the week, we have learned a thing or two about maintaining the culture we value so much, while keeping up with a trend that is continuing to permeate the modern workplace. 

It’s important to figure out a system that works well for your team members and allows them to be as productive as possible. Productivity and flexibility should really be the priorities here. At Elevate, we value a work/life balance and found that giving our team the chance to work remotely half the time would free up a lot of schedules and provide a win-win situation with productivity and flexibility boosted overall. 

There are clear benefits that come from running a remote or partially remote work environment. It’s important to understand that managing a remote team is much different than managing a team that is always in the office. For this reason, clear goals should be set for your team, especially if you are transitioning from an in-office culture to a remote culture. 

Managers of remote teams should foster a culture of communication that encourages team members to collaborate and work together, even if that has to be done online. This also means that managers have to invest in the proper systems to ensure that communication can be done openly and effectively. Whether its Slack for messaging, Asana for project management, or Zoom for group conference calls, everything should be taken into account from the managerial level so employees don’t have to worry about how to do their jobs. 

The Future

Whether or not you agree with employees working remotely, it is undoubtedly the way of the future. Forbes predicts that 50% of the entire workforce will be remote in the near future. 

If you are currently or are planning on taking on a managerial role in the future you will face a work environment that is heavily leaning toward remote or half-remote cultures. Depending on the industry this could look vastly different and might not even be a possibility. But for those who decide to adopt this new workplace culture, I would encourage you to make it your own. Find out what works best for your company and more importantly what will be best for your team.

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