Remote work – otherwise known as telecommuting or working from home – has been huge in 2020. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, working without having to commute to the office has been growing steadily since 2010.
- As reported by business software discovery platform GetApp, remote work rose by nearly 400% in the past 10 years.
- A study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that remote work grew by 44% over the last 5 years, 91% over the last decade, and 159% over the last 12 years.
Remote work is becoming so ubiquitous that it’s no longer just a trend; it’s here to stay.
But despite the widespread acceptance of working from home, there are companies out there who still aren’t sold on the idea. Some may have trust issues, data security concerns, or simply just don’t know how telecommuting can work.
To help allay those concerns, we run down the most common remote work myths and debunk each.
Myth 1: Remote employees aren’t as productive
Productivity (or the lack of it) is quite possibly the biggest myth there is. Remote work skeptics assume that telecommuters just lounge around all day, play video games, or stream movies instead of actually working.
That’s probably because remote employees aren’t physically seen by their co-workers and superiors, and receive no direct supervision to help keep them on track.
The truth, however, is the opposite: various research – including a few listed below – have shown that remote employees are actually more productive:
- A Stanford University study found that “home working led to a 13% performance increase”. This was due to fewer breaks and sick days, and a quieter work environment.
- An Airtasker survey of 1,004 employees found that remote workers take 22 minutes a day for breaks (vs. 18 minutes for in-office workers). They also worked an average of 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year than those who worked in an office.
- In a FlexJobs 2018 survey, 65% of employees said they’re more productive when working in a home office because they dealt with fewer distractions and meetings to interrupt them.
Myth 2: Remote employees are unhappy
Because humans are social beings, working at home in isolation can get a little lonely. However, this doesn’t mean that remote employees hole up in their home offices round the clock or are unhappy.
It’s actually common for remote employees to visit coffee shops and coworking spaces, or regularly hold meetups with friends, in an effort to change the scenery and keep solitude at bay.
But according to a study by AmeriSleep:
- Remote workers are 57% more likely than the average American to be satisfied with their job.
- 80% of remote workers are satisfied at their current job.
- 75% of remote workers hope to work remotely for the rest of their careers.
Here’s more proof: a TINYPulse study titled “What Leaders Need To Know About Remote Workers” found that remote workers are happier because they “enjoy the freedom and flexibility.”
Myth 3: Remote work leads to poor communication
Even with technology improving how we exchange information, communication gaps still happen, especially in remote work. In fact, it’s one of the top challenges when collaborating remotely.
The moments that take place naturally in a physical office (e.g. water cooler talk, chatting in the pantry over cake) don’t occur in a virtual setup. And unless you always interact via video calls, you miss out on details like body language.
Here’s the thing: communication can deteriorate even in traditional workspaces if employees don’t bother connecting with each other. Like any work environment, your team – virtual or otherwise – should make the effort to communicate effectively.
For remote teams, the minimum would involve:
- Having frequent video meetings (at least once a week).
- An open chat room for the entire team
- Separate chat rooms for sub-teams
- Occasional face-to-face gatherings.
- Using task management tools for collaboration.
- A non-work-related chat room.
- An employee recognition program.
Bottom line: Having a robust communication strategy would go a long way in strengthening how employees connect and stay in touch with each other.
Myth 4: Remote work limits career opportunities
The same Stanford University study mentioned earlier also noted: “one downside of WFH appears to be that, conditional on performance, it reduces rates of promotion by about 50%.”
Obviously, performance isn’t the cause because those same workers saw a 13% bump in output.
While working remotely can lead to getting less attention from your leaders, the answer is more likely to fall on the individual company where a remote employee works – specifically its culture.
Because as a whole, there’s no definite indication that working from home prevents career growth. A 2019 survey by Ultimate Software of 1,000 full-time employees actually found that remote workers are 40% more likely to have been promoted in the past year when compared to in-office employees.
As long as an employee works for a company that values outcomes more than the time spent at the office, working remotely shouldn’t keep them from moving up the career ladder.
The truth about remote work
Remote work is actually good for business. It helps make employees more productive, satisfied, and engaged, and minimises turnover. Furthermore, flexible work arrangements and schedules – particularly the remote variety – lowers overhead while boosting employee morale.
If you’re convinced that remote work is the way to go for your organisation, partner with Remote Workmate. Unlike freelancing marketplaces where you do everything yourself, we handle all the heavy lifting for you, including processes like screening, recruitment and payroll.
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