A lot of scepticism surrounds the subject of remote working. It probably shouldn’t. Let’s take a Deep Dive.
😷 Remote working has been driven up the public agenda by the coronavirus epidemic, with companies, particularly in China, choosing to ask employees to work from home to prevent virus transmission.
💻 But remote working has actually been on the rise for a while: employees generally like it, and there can be big cost savings for employers. Plus, if you go back far enough, historically almost everyone worked from home; offices and factories only came in with the Industrial Revolution and aren’t in any way an inherent part of work.
💼 The stereotype is that home workers will slack off, but evidence seems to suggest they’re actually more productive than their office-bound peers: less likely to clock watch, and spared a time-wasting and potentially stressful commute. In some jobs, however, being physically present can help with team cohesion, and not being in the same place can reduce efficient communication.
Remote working seems to work well for some people but not so much for others. Unsurprisingly, it really helps if you’re someone with plenty of self discipline and a well developed ability to concentrate.
“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of people working from home in the US increased by a whopping 159 percent between 2005 and 2017, according to a study by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs.
99 percent of people who work remotely would like to continue doing so, according to the 2019 State of Remote Work report from social media consultancy Buffer, while 95 percent would encourage others to do so.
75 percent of people who work from home say that doing so has improved their work-life balance, according to figures from job listings website Indeed. Some 57 percent say it reduces stress, 56 percent say is cuts down on absences, 50 percent say it results in fewer sick days, and 54 percent say it improves morale.
By 2028, 73 percent of teams will feature remote workers, according to figures from freelance marketplace Upwork.
What percentage of companies reported increased productivity as a result of adopting flexible working practices, according to serviced office provider IWG?
Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.
DID YOU KNOW?
IBM pioneered remote working, initially encouraging five employees to work from home in 1979; by 1983 the experiment had been extended to about 2,000 people, and by 2009 about 40 percent of its staff worked remotely. In 2017, though, it reversed that policy, on the basis that being physically present helped employees to collaborate more effectively.
5 Stories To Get You Up To Speed
The World's Biggest Work–From–Home Experiment Has Been Triggered By Coronavirus CNN
Slowly But Surely, Working At Home Is Becoming More Common Quartz
Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home
Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom gives you the evidence you need to convince your boss to let you work from home
THE FULL PICTURE
Who Does It
These are the percentage of employees that are allowed to work from home in various industries, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if you want to work in your pyjamas, get a job in finance.
There are of course plenty of challenges to working remotely; fortunately there are also a ton of tools that can help to alleviate them.
Organisation Many online tools help with managing and working in a distributed team: TransparentBusiness is a complete remote workforce management tool, for example, while Basecamp and Asana are popular project management options; Todoist and iDoneThis are useful for productivity and organisation of tasks; Teamwork, Hubstaff and Time Doctor can all help with time management; and Toggl will tell you how long you’ve spent on a particular task.
Communication The other biggest challenge for remote workers is communication, and there are numerous apps offering some combination of instant messaging, screen sharing and group video chat, including Slack, Zoom, Join.me, Highfive and CloudApp. And finally, to gauge how remote employees are feeling, managers should check out Chimp or Champ, which allows staff to provide immediate online feedback.
Collaboration Superpowers Lisette Sutherland The director of Collaboration Superpowers, Lisette Sutherland blogs extensively about experiments in remote working. The co-author of 2018 handbook Work Together Anywhere, she is currently working on the book Stories Of Remote Teams Doing Great Things.
Virtual Not Distant Pilar Orti
The Director of Virtual Not Distant, Pilar Orti designs training programmes for managers of remote teams, as well as working with managers to help them transition to flexible working. The host of the 21st Century Work Life podcast, she is also the author of the book Online Meetings that Matter.
Three honourees to follow
Qi Junyuan Qi Junyuan’s company Teambition provides tools that allow people to work together collaboratively. Bought by Alibaba in early 2019, it was originally established after his previous startup, which allowed patients to consult doctors online, was tripped up by the challenges of collaborative working. READ MORE
Zhou Keli Workingdom, the company of which Chacky Zhou Keli is co-founder and CEO, addresses multiple areas of the remote working ecosystem. Founded in 2016, it provides products covering co-working, mobile working, long-term rental apartments and eco-communities. READ MORE
Feng Yintao Home isn’t the only remote working option; co-working spaces are also a way of introducing extra flexibility, for employer and employee alike. Feng Yintao’s company Mixpace countinues to expand across Mainland China, with an ever growing range of smart, stylish spaces, after it received series B-1 financing of US$60m in 2018. READ MORE
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Did you miss our Deep Dive on How To Maximise Your Productivity? Read it here.
ONE FINAL THING
By Working In Your Underwear, You Are Helping To Save The Planet
Working from home isgoodfortheenvironment. Mainly, it reduces the energy used in the daily commute—particularly important in economies dominated by private car use—and it can also help to reduce office energy use and waste.
That's it for this issue. Have a productive week!
The Deep Dive is a weekly close-up look at an idea, issue or trend that’s shaping Asia’s future. This issue was written by Richard Lord, with production by Samantha Topp and Denise Ng. It was edited by Lee Williamson.
We’d love to know what you think of this issue, and future topics you’d like us to cover. Please send your comments to email@example.com. And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out last week’s Deep Dive, on How To Maximise Your Productivity.