Remote Workers Are Happier and More Productive Than You Think
At the Global Leadership Summit in London in 2014, a survey of attendees revealed that 34 percent thought that at least half their full-time workers would be working remotely by the year 2020. It appears that millennials – and their desire for schedule flexibility – drove that sentiment.
On a practical level, many jobs can simply be done from anywhere. You can use Skype to connect with clients around the world, email from anywhere, and with collaboration tools like Slack, you can feel like you’re standing around the office water cooler with your co-workers even if you’re alone in your local coffee shop.
For sure, the twin forces of technology and shifting attitudes toward work might lead to workplaces going remote. The question now is: should managers be wary of remote workers?
A new report from TINYpulse reveals that there are some nice benefits to allowing workers to work remotely.
They surveyed over 500 remote workers in the U.S. and found that they’re happier at work and feel more valued by their employer compared to traditional in-office workers. Remote workers were also more likely to stay in their current job than non-remote workers.
The real kicker is that remote workers might be working more. More than 91 percent said that they feel more productive working remotely. Moreover, the happiest ones worked 7 days per week (but fewer hours each day).
There were some downsides. Remote workers rated their coworker relationships lower than non-remote workers. That stat indicates that companies might be trading culture for higher productivity. And, 27 percent of remote workers said they experienced a problem with a coworker due to being physically separated from them – evidence that email or Slack can’t solve every communication problem.
The conclusion appears to be that organizations should weigh the benefits of allowing employees to work remotely against the potentially negative effects on company culture. In particular, if a company’s workforce is not entirely remote, the remote workers need to be integrated into the company culture.
“It’s important for remote workers to get a sense of how people talk to each other all day during the work day,” one anonymous remote worker told TINYpulse in the poll. “Remote staff should be encouraged to participate, if necessary, by pinging them specifically to contribute to the conversation. While this wouldn’t fly for introverts in a face-to-face meeting situation, it’s much easier to draw people out online. A [Slack] channel dedicated to random thoughts, jokes, etc., is also great for remote workers as it replicates the type of banter that happens spontaneously in a shared physical workspace.”
The Global Leadership Summit poll is now two years old – but it might be coming true. In August, Gallup measured that 37 percent of workers reported doing some form of remote work, up from 9 percent in the 1990s.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.