The world is changing so rapidly and technology that couldn't even be imagined even just 10 years ago is here today in the hands of the masses. The world is more connected today than it's ever been. Digital nomad is now a common term not just an urban dream. Due to the widespread proliferation of technology, more and more people are able to work and be productive no matter their location. The divergence between efficiency and productivity in their personal lives, versus their work lives is driving more and more people to want and value some form of remote working.
Benefits of Remote Work and Associated Issues
Let's look at some of the facts and benefits supporting a remote working revolution:
- Researchers at Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive and take fewer sick days and enjoy a quieter working environment
- A survey conducted by Virgin Media Business suggests that by 2020 60% of office based employees will regularly work from home.
- A survey by office angels suggests that 33% percent of employees believe commuting to work will be unheard of by 2036
The main issue for remote working is management trust. Its the fear of not seeing you, to know you are actually working. But this is where it becomes about incompetence of managers who are unable to manage remote workers and love to see their little empire before their eyes. They need to assess remote workers on their output and not their input. When I was a remote worker I could get more work done in a 4 hour morning than I could all day in the office, I'd take some longer breaks than if I was being watched in the office, but ultimately, I always delivered more than an office.
The sad truth about the feeling of lack of trust is that it makes employees feel as though they are primarily assessed on the amount of hours they spend in the office rather than ultimately what they deliver. The amount of times I've been told "It's all about the visibility, David", a very crazy, unintelligent and backwards way of thinking. It also leads to a very political landscape in the office which, ultimately, drives down moral and drives the wrong behaviours in the workforce.
What Does it Mean to be an Introvert
Diversity and inclusiveness are the current buzzwords in the corporate world, addressing important issues such as equality between genders as well as across different races and age gaps. What it doesn't address is the fundamental spectrum of the human disposition, introversion and extroversion. Scientists believe that the human race is split approximately 50/50 between introversion and extroversion. No one individual falls into one or the other exclusively, but they fall on the spectrum with some in one camp more than the other. Here's the thing though, extroverts have laid claim to what is considered 'normal' and even revered as the preferred and stronger individual in business. This could not be further from the truth, when in fact some of the strongest and most influential leaders have been introverts:
- Barack Obama
- Abraham Lincoln
- Rosa Parks
- Heidi Brown
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Marissa Meyer
- Warren Buffett
- Hilary Clinton
- Guy Kawasaki
- Bill Gates
What does this have to do with remote working? Well Introverts NEED solitude, not permanently, but we need it to maintain our sanity and health. An introvert that is afforded some solitude will give you phenomenal productivity, sadly the work world is not geared up to value or support introverts. If you are a manager or a leader reading this article, please check out Introvert Spring website's article on 'What is an Introvert' I think it will open your eyes.
“Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and remain silent.”
The Remote Working Revolution is Here
Of course, most people don't want to work exclusively from home. All human beings want social contact, indeed it's critical for ones health.
There are those jobs that simply cannot support remote working, such as police officers, firefighters and ER nurses and doctors. Even in office roles there are going to be some tasks that are simply better done face to face. Even on the extreme of teams that work 100% remotely scheduled face to face meet ups are beneficial and aid the effectiveness of the team when working apart. People learn about others dispositions and traits so they are better able to interpret digital communications than if they had never met.
According to the UK Office of National Statistics (2015), 87% of us still work primarily in the office. Despite the technology supporting it, the mindsets of managers and leaders do not. Which is why the majority of us are today still working in a crowded office with all the associated distractions and dreading our commutes.
So, what can you do if you think that more flexible working or remote working would work for you? Well, It used to be that only parents had the legal right in the UK to request flexible working. Now, however, every employer is legally obliged to consider requests from all employees after 26 weeks of service. Requests can be refused on 'business grounds' but they would have to give real valid and justified reasons which could be legally challenged by an employee. The best way to approach your line management is to highlight the benefits of flexible working hours, before you do make sure you check out your works flexible work hours policy.
The remote working revolution is on its way, technology is enabling us more and more in our personal lives to be able to work and communicate from anywhere in the world. The majority of senior management and leaders are from the baby boomer generation and simply 'don't get' the digital revolution. The rise of the millennial generation in the work force is now increasing at an exponential rate. They have no allegiance to management or to any one company. They value communication and collaboration and are very driven to develop themselves. It will be those forward thinking companies that support this burgeoning workforce both in the ways of working and technology provision that will flourish in the next one to two decades.