Recently, Forbes published an article titled “10 Potential Developments for Businesses When Adopting Remote Working Arrangements” that was authored by ten members of the Forbes Finance Council. While some of the points raised in the piece may have been thought-provoking, I could not help but feel that it ultimately perpetuated many myths about remote employment. Sadly, these misconceptions have created undue stress for businesses, preventing them from achieving their full potential. Additionally, countless employees worldwide have been deprived of the opportunity to maximise their productivity and job satisfaction due to these damaging beliefs.
In the article, the author provided six statements that mostly are true. Working remotely provides the following advantages:
- Enhanced adaptability and availability
- cheaper labour
- Minimum Required Floor Area
- Employees Have Increased in Lifespan
- Costs of Scaling Down
- To Compete for Superior Talent, Get More Out Of Your Efforts
The last four items of the article were where the rumours started.
The demand for sophisticated IT solutions is caused by remote work
In order to ensure that work can be carried out seamlessly both remotely and in the workplace, the article implies that advanced IT systems are a necessity. However, it overlooks the fact that there exists a vast array of applications which can facilitate an uninterrupted workflow.
Despite their sophistication, these advanced applications can be used without an IT staff.
The phrase ‘variable levels of productivity’ is often used to describe remote work
The article emphasises the difficulty of motivating remote employees to maintain or increase their productivity levels when necessary. It is a challenge to ensure that productivity levels remain high in a remote working environment, and that employees are encouraged to reach their goals despite the unique constraints posed by working remotely.
For a while now, there has been evidence to suggest that employees who work remotely are more productive than those who are based in a physical office environment.
It is incorrect to state that communication issues are caused by working remotely
One of the authors of the article stated:
It is often the case that issues arise as a result of ineffective communication, and therefore any attempts to solve these issues by utilising resources in a less direct manner can be met with resistance. When communication is conducted online or remotely, the advantages of having in-person interactions such as synergy, cooperation, and the sense of responsibility it brings are lost, leading only to an increase in expenses and a lack of efficiency.
It is not uncommon for misunderstandings to arise when considering remote professionals. However, this is largely unfounded; in fact, remote professionals can often interact just as effectively – if not more so – than their in-office counterparts due to the wide array of communication solutions that are now available.
Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable decrease in direct, face-to-face interactions in the workplace. Many local employees have become accustomed to communicating via email and Slack, meaning that even if they are physically in the office, the dialogue between colleagues is often conducted through virtual means. This has the effect of making it difficult to distinguish between workers who are in the office and those who are working remotely.
Additionally, during infrequent face-to-face interactions with employees, a frequent complaint voiced is that they feel they could have been more productive had they received a notification via Slack, as opposed to having to attend a meeting which took up an hour of their working day.
It can be concluded that working remotely is not associated with any of the drawbacks mentioned in the article. On the contrary, it can actually lead to improved communication and productivity, as well as result in cost savings. Therefore, remote working can be seen as an effective and beneficial solution for many businesses.
Working remotely does not generate “negative energy”
I find this myth to be particularly perplexing, especially because the same Forbes article appears to be in conflict with itself in the “Improved Employee Longevity” section. A previous commenter accurately expressed the potential benefits of allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis, noting that “Letting your workers work from home one regular day may do wonders for morale.
The Forbes article’s last sentence contains the following reference to negative energy:
The absence of all personnel being in one physical workspace may be detrimental to the productivity and corporate culture of the organisation. This lack of proximity may potentially impede the effectiveness of collaboration, communication, and the development of relationships between colleagues.
Recent studies have indicated that permitting employees to work remotely has a positive impact on their well-being, performance, and willingness to accept a pay cut in return for more flexible working hours. This has been attributed to the increased autonomy and freedom to structure their own working day that comes with home-working. Furthermore, it has been suggested that these advantages could be beneficial to employers as well, in terms of increased employee satisfaction and loyalty.
The Corporate Culture Is Thriving Even If There Is No Physical Office
Today’s workplaces place greater importance on team and workplace culture.
It is widely acknowledged that a positive team culture is essential for success; however, this does not necessarily imply that a physical office is necessary. Recent surveys indicate that 63% of professionals in the information economy are of the opinion that offices will become obsolete by the year 2030.
The advances in communication technology have enabled teams to cultivate a strong culture without needing to be in the same physical space. This has removed the barriers associated with traditional office dynamics, such as office politics, gossip and micromanagement, which can all impede collaboration. As a result, remote working teams are now able to work together more effectively and efficiently.
Employees who work remotely do not “not perform.”
In the Forbes article, the last paragraph continues:
In recent years, there has been a notable growth in the number of employees who prefer to work remotely. While I understand the appeal of this option, I am concerned that those who are engaging in remote working may not be fulfilling their duties as expected. It is my belief that the most effective team building exercises can be achieved when employees face and work through any challenges that may arise throughout the course of their workday.
It is astonishing that some Chief Executive Officers continue to perceive remote workers as idle individuals who spend their time engaging in leisure activities such as playing the popular online video game Fortnite or browsing through YouTube videos, despite receiving a salary for their work.
It is evident that failing to meet the expectations of one’s role will lead to dismissal, as is the case in any professional setting.
With reference to the research discussed in Myth 2, it has been observed that remote workers tend to be more productive than those who work in an office setting.
Furthermore, in stark contrast with the previously mentioned statement, on-site workers undeniably regard their remote colleagues as valuable members of the team. Remote workers are conscious of the fact that they could be replaced in the same manner as those working in offices, should a specific deficiency be discovered. Remote employees have the same motivation as those working in an office environment to effectively fulfill their individual obligations.
In the 2020s, Businesses That Won’t Let Employees Work From Home Will Fail.
According to the findings of Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, an overwhelming majority (99%) of survey respondents indicated that they would like to continue to work remotely, at least part-time, for the remainder of their professional careers.
It is advisable not to disregard the idea of having remote workers if you wish to retain your most proficient employees, optimise productivity, and be able to engage top-tier talent from all corners of the globe. Companies that offer the option of remote working will likely have an advantage over their competitors in the upcoming decade.