“Going to work” no longer means going into the office anymore. As companies around the world embrace digital transformation, they are increasingly opting to ditch the office. Here are some of the reasons why.
The number one challenge for companies in the digital age is to attract the right talent from a very limited talent pool. Life goals for the new generation have shifted from scoring a traditional and steady job at a large prestigious corporation, to securing a position that offers flexibility and at the same time, is challenging and rewarding. People do not want to be stuck in a cubicle eight hours a day. They want to have a life outside work.
It is no surprise then that an annual survey by flexible workspace provider International Workplace Group (IWG) found 74% of respondents viewing flexible working as the “new normal.” Out of the 15,000 professionals surveyed from various industries in 80 countries in 2019,
“80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job that did not offer flexible working.”
Companies are listening and are making changes. In fact, 83% of U.S. businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy or are planning to adopt one. Employees are not the only ones who benefit from the adoption of remote working. Companies and society also greatly benefit as well.
Corporations around the world are overhauling their organizations and leveraging technology for innovation and efficiency. Whether it is through enhancing their digital collaboration tools or creating comfortable spaces at the office to encourage interaction, businesses are improving policies to create a better way of working.
Remote working is part of this shift work-culture. Now there are options to work from home during certain periods of time, at certain locations, or allowing employees to become digital nomads, traveling at their leisure.
The flexibility of working outside the office allows employees to lead healthier and happier lives and create a better work-life balance. By offering this flexibility, employees can choose the time and environment that best contribute to their productivity. This is proven by the fact that 85% of businesses in the IWG survey have noted an increase in productivity. 63% of employees surveyed report at least a 21% improvement in productivity.
Another study conducted by professors of Stanford and Beijing Universities on 242 employees at a large Chinese travel agency found that after nine months of random assigned work, the group’s work output increased by 13.5% through remote working.
Both the employer and employee save time and money. Instead of spending the majority of their days commuting to urban cities crowded with large populations, people have more time to settle down in a comfortable space and start work right away. Whether it be at a local cafe, co-working space, or their own home, employees are increasing their output and working more efficiently. For instance, the Chinese-American study noted that workers increased their availability by 9%, allowing them more time to work. The study also noted there was a 3.5% improvement in greater focus by opting for quieter working conditions.
Employers, on the other hand, benefit from workers using their own tech equipment and space. Companies are also able to expand internationally at a faster pace. The IWG study showed employers adopt remote working to reduce expenses and manage risks.
In terms of the larger picture, remote working does not only impact the private sector, it also helps save the environment. As large urban cities grow, the price of rent increases, pushing more and more people to seek more affordable housing further away from their office. With this migration, comes large amounts of pollution generated from daily commutes. This led to countries, such as the United States, creating regulations to control pollution levels.
In 1996 the United States adopted the Clean Air Act amendments to reduce carbon dioxide through car pooling, public transportation, shortened work weeks, and telecommuting. In 2004, remote working was encouraged through an appropriations bill to withhold money from Federal agencies that did not offer remote working options to eligible employees.
In the United Kingdom it was estimated by The Carbon Trust, a business environmental sustainable consultant company, that more than 3 million tons of carbon pollution could be saved each year. The country would also cut costs by GBP 3 billion a year. ("Homeworking: helping businesses cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint". The Carbon Trust. Retrieved July 18, 2014.)
However there are challenges when it comes to adopting remote working. Being away from human interaction can affect employees’ attitudes and behaviors. There are many theories on these effects. One worth mentioning is the job characteristic theory, which is based on five characteristics including skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback.
As remote working brings a large amount of autonomy and less face-to-face work, employers have to employ different methods to dealing with accountability in work output and keeping employees motivated. It is important for employers to keep in contact with employees and perhaps have at least one face-to-face interaction with them on a weekly basis to avoid employees feeling isolated.
The failure of remote working often occurs when employees are stuck in a routine assignment and are not encouraged to build upon their skillset . This may lead to boredom, and ultimately them leaving the company for a more challenging one. It is important to allow people working on a project to see it from the beginning to the end, providing them a greater sense of ownership and accomplishment. (Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance)
Not everyone is made for remote working. Some thrive on energy from coworkers at the office. So when it comes to assigning people to take on remote working, a company needs to select carefully or they could risk wasting time.
Potential candidates should have enough stamina to work for long stretches of time independently. Without a manager physically checking in on an employee’s progress, they must be sure the remote working candidate remains accountable in their work. Additionally, employees should have solid digital communications skills, whether that be through email, instant message, video or voice chat.
There is a clear relationship between the development of tech and the rise of remote working. Technological developments allow for more efficient communication between employees while digital collaboration allows teams to deliver better results quickly and more cost-effectively.
One of the latest digital collaboration tools gaining traction is Lark, a single platform that combines a multitude of essential collaboration tools in an interconnected platform, that include features of Chat, Calendar, Creation and Cloud storage. The functions are synced and are easy to access from one to the next. Larks allows businesses to leverage collaboration tools to innovate their work.
As we leave the physical office and adapt to virtual platforms, this is a truly exciting time for everyone to “go to work.”
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