The global pandemic has disrupted the future of office work as we know it. A surge in remote workers has tested the speed and capacity of the internet. Can we expect telecommuting to be as important in the coming years?
Since 2005, regular telecommuting has grown 173%, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Traditionally, work from home programs granted employees more flexibility with their schedules, but they’re now utilized to keep offices either empty or at limited capacity. Given this need, what policies and technologies will businesses consider to support employees who work from home?
What a Future of Remote Working Means for Businesses
Organizations have had to rethink their employee policies and business procedures in light of the pandemic. This meant setting up video conferencing calls instead of department meetings in one room, and processing customer orders and sharing product support from countless different desks.
However, not every industry is best-suited for remote work. Blue-collar jobs like manufacturing, transportation and retail cashiers cannot be done at home. The more physical constraints of the job, the less feasible telecommuting is. Also, lacking access to reliable high-speed internet complicates remote work, and so a push to build broadband infrastructure in geographically isolated areas, like rural communities, may happen rapidly.
According to FlexJobs, the fields with the most remote-friendly jobs include health and medicine, business, customer service, education, finance and computer/IT services. Industries that can facilitate telecommuting can discover potential benefits and consider supporting their distributed workers in several ways.
Businesses that allow telework can anticipate:
- Reducing office expenses: The office lights aren’t on as often and essential supplies deplete slower. Companies don’t have to pay for larger premises or spend as much on cleaning or food services. Major companies like IBM have already identified tens of millions in real estate savings by having a telecommuting workforce.
- Employing the right talent: Work from home programs give hiring managers the flexibility to find good people for the job — even when talent lives in a neighboring state or region.
- Potentially covering internet and home office costs: The 2019 State of Remote Work from Buffer shares that three-quarters of remote workers don’t have their company pay for their home internet. While businesses pay premiums for their on-site internet to get more data reliability and security, organizations can decide whether to help their workers achieve the same stability. Another consideration is partially funding the work-from-home setup — computers, monitors, business phones and other products critical to workers in the office.
- Using cloud sharing and remote access apps: Whether working from the office or at home on a given day, employees need secure access to the same files, software and tools. Organizations can use storage platforms like Google Drive and apps connecting to computers remotely like Chrome Remote Desktop.
How Can Companies Use Remote Work to Increase Employee Satisfaction?
Should companies offer more remote working opportunities to their employees, if it hasn’t happened already? Younger workers, particularly millennials, are seeking employers with remote policies. With the flexibility to stay closer to home and family and strike a positive work-life balance, remote work can increase employee happiness. It virtually eliminates commuting to the office and decreases cars on the roads.
Telecommuting is a fair alternative for workers who aren’t feeling well or have to take care of a sick family member. This dramatically reduces unscheduled absences and lost productivity.
Buffer’s study also found that while 84% of remote workers preferred getting work done at home, others chose locations like coffee shops and coworking spaces. Ultimately, the flexibility of remote work gives employees control over their job, rather than their job controlling them.
Tracking Your Remote Workers’ Productivity
As long as workers can control potential distractions in their work-from-home environment, productivity usually stays the same or improves. But oversight still matters.
Using time tracking software and project management tools helps gather activity data at the computer. Another method to ensure employees are working when they’re needed most is establishing core or base hours. Team chat platforms and screen sharing software also help keep tabs on what’s getting done.
If managers are still concerned about productivity and performance, consider setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for both the upper staff and employees. What metrics will provide insight into your workers’ performance?
Partner With DataSpan
In the midst of the global work-from-home experiment, DataSpan is committed to organizations like yours. Whether you need increased data center reliability and performance for your distributed workers or customers, our IT products and services will position you to succeed. To learn about our computing and storage solutions, contact DataSpan online or find a representative today. We are here to help.