Remote Working

The modern workforce in this digital age never miss a beat. They are either taking or making calls, answering numerous emails, engaging in Skype calls with colleagues or clients and just getting the work done. This sounds like very much an ordinary day at the office but the difference today is that more workers than ever are undertaking these tasks in their own home as opposed to an office environment.

These remote working situations are becoming ever more commonplace and the number of employees who are telecommuting, on both full and part time bases, has rocketed. Finally, employers have caught on that the old segregation within dingy cubicles isn’t conducive to either performance or well being. As natural pack animals segregating us from the rest of the team does not make us feel a part of said team and has more of an outcast ambiance.

The landscape has very much changed however and remote workers play just as big a role in the success, and the culture, of a company as their on-site staff do. As the telecommuting population continues to grow we wanted to look at the past, present and future of remote work, and it makes fascinating reading,

The Evolution of Remote Working

Not so long ago, working from home in today’s sense simply wasn’t possible. If you stepped out of the office colleagues and clients were unable to send a text, email or instant message. You would have had to give them a fax or pager number or even an alternate phone number. The positions available for remote workers are so far removed from what we now perceive as the norm the comparison isn’t even viable.

As recently as 10 years ago, the opportunities rarely connected to a full time career and where more of the pin money ilk that paid well below minimum wage for the likes of telemarketing or ‘adult phone services’. In just a decade there has been such a leap in technology that everything you do in an office environment can be done just as well, if not better, in the home. We can get in touch with clients and colleagues at any time, wherever they may be in the world.

There are many technologies which have made the transition from on-site to remote work seamless but the one that is viewed by many as one of the big ones is video calling. Live feeds helped out of office staff to be able to speak face to face to clients et al in real time for the first time. This eliminated the down time caused by meetings and conferences but of course this would never have become possible if it wasn’t for the daddy of them all; the Internet.
Video conferencing was only initially an option for large companies who were the first to jump on the Internet band wagon. As this progressed quickly from dial up to broadband video calling became a normal part of everyday business practices. Today, meetings and corporate events are taking place live over the Internet right across the globe and stakeholders in remote locations can play a part in things that previously meant them having to jump on a plane and fly thousands of miles.

Remote Working in 2015

Due to the advances in Internet and communications technology, teleworking is now an accepted practice on a global scale. A survey by the web conferencing software company PGi revealed that 79% of worldwide office workers worked remotely from home at least one day a week. This result is probably already outdated and that figure now will be closer to 3 days a week.

SME’s in particular could benefit from embracing remote working; especially start ups who are watching every penny. iFix IT are ahead of the game in this respect as they are already creating digital workspaces and providing the telecommuting technology needed for remote working. They also offer a full IT support service and are helping SME’s understand how remote working can make a huge difference to their success.

The attitude towards remote working has changed drastically and both employers and employees are now fully aware of the benefits. From an employer’s point of view it means they can turn their back on on the traditional office space and instead run their businesses our of shared, co worker space. This is all they need thanks to their mainly remote workforce. This drastically cuts costs and makes their company instantly more economically viable.

From the employees point of view, getting up, having breakfast and taking refuge in their home office for the day completely eliminates the commute. It also allows them to work in an environment most conducive to them in terms of productivity as they can decorate and furnish their work space as they see fit. With a computer, printer and a scanner they can do exactly the same job from home as they would from the office.

Cloud computing deserves a mention at this point due to the fact it gives both on-site and remote employees instant access to vital files. Several people, who are several thousand miles apart, can now work on the same project thanks to cloud and once completed it can be sent to the client in just a couple of clicks. Physical files are looked upon with derision today and included in the so called dinosaur category along with floppy disks and file-o-fax’.

The benefits of working remotely are numerous and as well as the aforementioned lack of commute and tasteful work space you are not tied to your desk for the duration of your shift and take a break when you need it not when the schedule decrees it. Those who have chosen to work for themselves on a remote basis are earning a good living and balancing heir work and home life is no longer a lifestyle tug of war.

The Future of Remote Working

How technology laden your home based digital work space currently is seems to be dependent on whether you are working for yourself or a company. If working as an employee you may only be provided with basic hardware whereas if you are self employed you will have Wi-Fi, instant messaging apps, web conferencing and more advanced hardware. The general consensus is that when companies help worker to create these digital offices in their own home we have reached the point where there will be more job vacancies for remote workers than those who actually go out to work.

It could be very easy at this point and predict that in 10 years there will be more remote workers than those who physically go to work, but common sense must prevail. The traditional office job is unlikely to become completely obsolete any time soon but the way we perceive it is. It is likely that more IT based businesses will shift towards remote working as the already astounding technological advances we have made will take us past the realms of our digital age to as yet uncharted territory.

The world of remote working is evolving to such an extent that ‘work’ may no longer be considered a place to go to but become amalgamation of both physical and digital work which will take place through team, independent and cross-functional collaborations. Digital offices are seen as the immediate future of “work” and as business technologies such as mobile apps and unified communications continue in their evolution physical office spaces are set to become less and less about where work actually happens and become more about where the workers will gather occasionally.

Experts do believe that office jobs will remain a mainstay of both our economy and workforce for a few years to come yet but what will change is that the continual advancements expected in communications technology will lead to remote working on a more global scale than it is at present. To reach this point, however, it is clear that many organizations need to make major improvements to their policies for remote working. Rather than an ad hoc basis the way forward is believed to be that these companies take on work classed as remote working cases and distribute these to their remote workforce. One expert has said that this will not only boost productivity but also loyalty and promote business growth.

Many companies have stated that their reticence to create a section of their workforce solely dedicated to remote working is due to concerns regarding both performance and productivity. These can easily be addressed by creating KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, to benefit both employers and employees. This makes those team members who work on a remote basis aware of the expectations and knowing their performance is being monitored will deter them from taking advantage of the perks of working from home.

Companies who invest in the latest cloud software that is compatible with mobile devices are considered to be the ones who will lead us into the next generation of remote working. As they gradually recognise the important role remote work plays in their company growth they also need to grasp the fact that their employees demand instant and easy access to important information wherever they may be at the time. This will cause this rethink in the role technology plays in how their workers perform. One quick example is if a remote worker is in a video conference on their computer and need access to a file that has raised a question they can grab their smartphone or tablet and deal with it on the spot.

How technology laden your home based digital work space currently is seems to be dependent on whether you are working for yourself or a company. If working as an employee you may only be provided with basic hardware whereas if you are self employed you will have Wi-Fi, instant messaging apps, web conferencing and more advanced hardware. The general consensus is that when companies help worker to create these digital offices in their own home we have reached the point where there will be more job vacancies for remote workers than those who actually go out to work.