With more than 3.5 million employees working remotely for at least half of their work time, many employers are finding that remote workers are more proactive and productive, according to April Nowicki of StreetFightMag.
Yet, some technology companies neither allow remote workers nor do they intend on considering the option. Despite technology’s reluctance to embrace the trend, remote workers’ numbers are on the rise with a 6.5 percent increase in 2014, alone, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by globalworkplaceanalytics.com, wrote StreetFightMag.
“Some people have things they need to handle with their kids, or new mothers, and we have to be flexible around things like that,” said Matt Booth, CEO of marketing technology company Connectivity. Despite this, most Connectivity staff does not work remotely, notes StreetFightMag.
Hugo Messer, a remote team expert and CEO of startup Ekipa, a platform for outsourcing IT and development employees, notes, “Having people in the same office is absolutely easier to organize…. If you have a question, you can just ask the person next door. But I think you’re way more productive if you work without anyone around you. There’s a lot of time wasted time with people sitting in an office chatting with each other.”
Messer says technology startups should consider hiring remote employees for three key reasons. “First, it’s an especially good option when hiring for programmers,” says Messer. “It can be hard to find good programmers in the U.S. and in Europe. By hiring remotely you have a much larger labor pool. That’s true for any field.” Messer also notes the financial benefits: “Cost also is an important reason, but it shouldn’t be the first reason.” Messer, who is located in the Netherlands, recently hired a new personal assistant based in the Philippines, explaining that, “Over here, I’m going to pay four or five times more [for an assistant].” His third reason “is that it’s more human. People can stay in their own environment. It’s pretty convenient to work from home. You have everything thing you want; if you have kids, you can see them more often.”
Automattic, points out Messer, the company behind WordPress.com, boasts a worldwide workforce of under 500 that is entirely distributed, according to StreetFightMag. “If you’re flexible and open to hire from any location, it’s easier to find great people,” according to Messer. “You’ll have other challenges, other cultures you have to adapt to, and you need tools and communication strategies to make that work.”
Messer suggests that the most productive schedule involves conducting regular planning meetings augmented with a quick, daily, five-minute meeting to ensure that all parties are “aligned,” writes StreetFightMag. “The most important thing with remote work is to schedule this rhythm, especially the daily meeting,” says Messer. “Every day, you can ask them, ‘What did you do yesterday? What are you doing today? What issues do you have?’ If you ask every day, they have to share how they got stuck on their daily or weekly goals, and you can help them meet the goals moving forward.”
Messer believes that we will see an increase in remote work options and companies that utilize distributed work teams. “It’s only been the last decade that we have been able to do this,” he points out. “Before, we didn’t have the communication mechanisms or the tools to do this. With technology as an enabler, people will work from home or remotely much more,” Messer adds, according to StreetFightMag.
StreetFightMag; Why a Remote Work Policy Is Worth Considering; December 4, 2015; by April Nowicki