The Future of Work: Remote versus Traditional Office Employees

6 min read

The nature of work has changed, and so too must the organizations that recruit and hire the brilliant employees of tomorrow. Most jobs these days are digitally oriented, and as more millennials began filling those job positions – they continue to bring a growing sense of innovation, and openness to new technologies and working conditions. I’m not surprised to have read that 37% of employees reported that they telecommute in their current roles – in fact it seems almost low.   Workforces everywhere are enabling employees an incredible flexibility when it comes to their working habits and requirements. Most organizations offer new hires the option to work remotely when they feel like it – regularly or every so often. This has become such a “norm” that many applicants expect to have a work-from-home-option when applying to a new company. With advanced at-home working capabilities available to anyone, can we blame today’s professionals? Anyone can find access to sophisticated email assets, chat features, video conferencing and other cloud collaboration software, and when used remotely – these features come together to create a decked-out, inter-connected home office. However, many still ask: are people who work from home more productive than those who work in an office? After some research, I’ve concluded that there is no right or wrong answer about working remotely. Working from home is a personal decision that needs to be discussed between an employee and boss. It can make someone more productive, but it’s not guaranteed. If you’re considering transitioning to a position where you can work from home, please consider it carefully. Here are some aspects to keep in mind.

Best Practices for Working Remotely

Defining productivity Employee and manager must be really clear with how they are measuring what is considered productive. A position that can be measured on specific outputs: scheduling sales calls, emails sent, or data collected may be sufficient to attribute to productivity – but the question will remain - do those actions reflect the quality of work being done? Less visibility – plain and simple Despite your efforts to stay visible as a remote employee, the fact remains that your physical efforts aren’t seen as easily – because you’re not in the office. Working closely with your manager can elevate the stress of having to overcompensate to make your efforts known, but it will take constant communication and reassurance. If you’re not up for that, it may be best to stay away from this option.   Bias towards remote employees Another layer of complication for those who work outside the office, is dealing with unwarranted biases from those who come to the office every day. People who work remotely are more likely to work harder to prove that their working situation benefits their larger team, department, and company. If you’re considering a remote position, be realistic about the predispositions you may encounter.   A specialized industry No matter how you spin it, sometimes a specific industry of work just can’t be done remotely. For example, someone who manages others, or works collaboratively with a larger team or department may be required to be physically in the office. However, a freelance content writer likely has tasks that make sense when completed at home. Keep longevity in mind Jobs evolve, tasks vary, and employees change too. For remote employees (uh, all employees, come to think of it) to be happy, it’s paramount to be in constant communication with your team and reporting managers. Employees who begin a role as a remote employee may get started with all engines blazing, but they can quickly and easily burnout. Just like you would with onsite employees, connecting with your employees and gauging their morale, productivity, and overall engagement for the company is critical!   Personal choice It comes down to personality types. Some people are just better suited to work remotely, while others require in-person, face-to-face contact regularly. Those that work remotely have the necessary discipline and adequate home environment to successfully contribute to their organization despite their distance to the office. To reiterate, working from home is a perk for some, and a curse for others. An employee and manager must be transparent and clear about their expectations when considering a remote employment relationship.