Remote Working - An Experiment in Productivity
As we are starting to realize that remote working might become more of the norm for these next few months, many businesses are starting to determine what does this mean for them and how to make it work. Here at CyberLancers we have been working remote since our start. We have no infrastructure overhead and instead have allowed our employees and contractors to work from wherever is most convenient for them. We have found this to be very beneficial to the productivity of our staff, despite what many might think.
Years ago, I worked for a company that was a 90-minute commute during rush hour. This might not seem long compared to other locations, but for our area it was long. I took the job knowing that it was a long commute because it was for a good company and I was going to be working on a project that I was excited to start on. However, after the first few weeks the long commute started to not be as enjoyable. I was able to work with my employer and start working 1-2 days remote as a trial. During that time both they and I find that I was more productive while working at home then in the office. This then allowed me to work the majority of time remote rather than at the office. This then eventually expanded to other employees. We found that most of the work that was being accomplished was done while working remote rather than at the office. The office was full of distractions that prevented work from being accomplished.
While working in an office allows for collaboration, socializing with peers, and creativity to flow, it does not always provide the best atmosphere for productive work to get done. In an office it is very easy to walk over to someone’s desk to ask a question which then turns into an hour conversation discussing everything but the question you came to ask. When working remote, clear and concise communication becomes necessary and alleviates much of the unnecessary side conversations that take place.
Employees are also likely to work more hours than they would at an office. Many think that remote workers will work less hours because they have more distractions. However, many studies have found that to not be true. At the start many might find it difficult to avoid distractions, but as routine starts to settle in, the distractions either disappear as the novelty wears off, or extend the employees workday. Since they are already at home, many employees tend to work through what would have been their normal commute time. In my experience I have seen that when a typical workday is 9-5, many remote workers will usually start their day earlier and end it later. During this time, they might take breaks to go for a walk, play with the kids (or dog), or surf the internet for a bit. But they make up for that time by working longer.
Remote workers are also able to have the freedom to work from a place that makes them happier and more productive. For me that is on a cruise ship, just not during a pandemic. Some of my most productive working is on a ship balcony or deck watching the water go by with the sound of waves splashing. Being remote allows me to have that flexibility. Some people want the socialization that comes with working at a coffee shop, while others might want to be at home in their home office. Remote work allows for that to happen.
What I would encourage during this time is to use this as an experiment to determine how remote working affects your company. See if you find that your employees are happier and more productive. This might be a bit difficult the next few months as employees are worried about their health and their employment, but once everything is back to normal, consider allowing your employees to stay at home a little longer to try out their new routines. If you find that they are more productive, then you can start to look into the cost savings that comes from not needing to maintain the infrastructure that is needed for onsite employees.
This is an interesting time that we are living in during an unprecedented event. While remote working might be new and scary for some companies, it doesn’t need to be. In the upcoming days and weeks, we will be providing tips for remote workers and their employers for how to be more effective and the different lessons that we have learned.