Remote work benefits both companies and employees – saving costs, improving talent pools, and helping people achieve better flexibility and work-life balance.
Telecommuting has been on the rise globally, for many years. As the benefits of allowing work from home have become more apparent, and technology has advanced to support remote communication and collaboration, more and more companies have offered their employees remote work as a benefit on a part-time or full-time basis.
In 2019, 56% of companies allowed remote work, at least some of the time, for some employees1. However, as companies and employees have been required to overcome their hesitation to implement remote work as an option, that number may well increase in the future.
Moreover, ongoing safety concerns including social distancing may cause people to rethink their comfort level with being in crowded settings – either when commuting, or in a workplace that doesn’t allow for much space between people at their desks, in conference rooms, or in communal areas. Creating shifts, where a certain number of employees have schedules outside of the standard 9-5, or remote work may be required as a safety consideration in these cases.
What is Remote Work?
Remote work is – at its most basic – employment where work is completed outside of a traditional setting. People who work remotely may do so from a consistent place, such as a home office or coworking space; or they may work while travelling from one place to another. Some people work remotely on a full-time basis, while others divide work between on-site and off.
The different scenarios for remote work depend largely on three factors: the preference of the employer, the needs of the employee, and perhaps most importantly, the job that is being performed. Some jobs are more suited to remote work than others.
What Jobs are Suited to Remote Work?
There are jobs that can be done remotely, at least some of the time, while others must be completed on-site. Most jobs in hospitality, healthcare, retail sales, restaurant, and service industry require that employees be at the employer’s location to complete their work. However, there are many types of jobs that are location-agnostic, and with the right tools and support, can be completed from anywhere.
Jobs that are best suited for remote work include those that have measurable results and quantifiable deliverables. However, you might be surprised at how well technology has evolved to support different kinds of jobs – tracking employee activity and quantifying outcomes regardless of where employees are located.
Jobs in computer science / information technology can often be completed remotely, without any detriment to performance. Remote IT jobs such as, software development, website design, data analytics, cybersecurity analyst – work with measurable results, where communication and collaboration can be conducted largely online, by messaging, email, phone, and video call.
Customer service, including call center, can often function as remote work. Companies hire remote customer service employees to handle their internal functions, while others outsource to a third-party provider. Job seekers interested in remote work can either apply to companies directly, or to the third-party customer service partners.
There are many creative jobs that can be done from a remote location, from marketing, to graphic design, to copywriting. These positions often have measurable deliverables, are project-based, and can be accomplished with limited face-to-face communication required.
What Characteristics Make a Successful Remote Worker?
Just as not all jobs are suited to remote work, not all people are suited to telecommuting either. There are some specific characteristics that make a person successful at remote work, including:
When companies are looking to hire remote workers, or if your current company is considering remote work for your position, these are the qualities they will likely be looking for. If you are a job seeker, be certain that these characteristics are highlighted on your resume, or even during a remote interview, so that an employer can evaluate you as a good fit for remote work.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Remote Work for Employees?
Now that many people have had the opportunity to work from home, both the benefits and the drawbacks of remote work are becoming clearer.
The benefits of remote work for employees include the flexibility of having a remote schedule, and the improvements that can make to an individual’s work-life balance. Some people prefer to skip a commute due to the cost, wasted time or environmental impact.
Moreover, studies have shown that employees working remotely are more productive, have fewer health problems, and overall higher levels of job satisfaction.
Related Reading: 6 Tips to Maximize Productivity While Teleworking
However, there are drawbacks for employees working from home as well. Remote workers can feel isolated, and miss the regular social interaction of on-site work. There can be difficulty in setting boundaries between work and home, and keeping the two separate when they both happen in the same place. Finally, there can be an out-of-sight, out-of-mind effect for remote workers, who can be left out of communications and miss opportunities just by virtue of not being present with other employees.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Remote Work for Employers?
For employers, remote work offers significant benefits. It expands the pool of available talent beyond geographic limitations, making it easier to fill positions requiring in-demand skills. Telecommuting employees are more productive, and companies can realize considerable cost savings in overhead, fewer sick days, and improved retention of employees.
The drawbacks of remote work for employers include security (how can a company guarantee secure data and systems in an uncontrolled environment?) and employee engagement. Often, extra effort is required of both employees and employers to ensure that remote workers are included in company activities, training, opportunities, etc.
Remote work is more than just a preference that certain employees – and employers – are considering; it has become a reality, a necessity, and a critical part of crisis response and disaster recovery plans for businesses. It is also something that is growing more relevant for large portions of the global workforce and is likely to continue to impact work on an ongoing basis.
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