Companies are going global with a vengeance – a founder based in Silicon Valley, California; programmers based in Bangalore, India; marketing teams sitting in Madison Avenue, New York; and distribution teams based in Europe are not a pipe dream anymore.
6.1 million individuals in the US can be categorized as remote workers, whether self-employed or employed for organizations on a full-time or part-time basis.
Where you are located is of little importance in today’s connected workplace as long as you fit into the overall scheme of things at the company and contribute effectively to the brand’s growth.
The reasons why remote working is gaining rapidly in popularity are many.
The recent economic downturn leading to widespread joblessness across the globe contributed to more and more people switching to being self-employed and setting up flexible work from home businesses. Companies too chose to take their jobs to locations that offered cost advantages in a tough economic climate.
However, these are not the only reasons why mobile workforces are here to stay. Reasons vary for the employer vs. the employee, but a happy medium that keeps both employees and employers happy is not a tough task.
The employers' perspective
1. Cheaper. This is probably the #1 reason for outsourcing jobs, seeking out ways to find workers who offer the same talent and productivity that local workers would but at much lower cost. Besides saving on salaries, companies also end up saving big sums on office space, facilities, and lower overheads in the case of work-from-home business models.
As James Ware and Charles Grantham confirm in their white paper on managing a remote workforce:
“Enabling employees to work remotely makes it possible to reduce the corporate real estate portfolio by as much as 40-50% by offering employees an opportunity to work from home full- or part-time in return for giving up an assigned private workspace in the corporate facility.”
2. Closer to the best talent pools. Another important factor in the migration of work to remote locations is the scarcity of talent. It is not uncommon to have teams that specialize in a particular skill to be located offshore or to offer talented workers the opportunity to work remotely, just to get their skills on board.
3. Attracting good talent, retaining them. With the competition for scarce talent referred to above heating up, it is imperative to be perceived as a flexible employer with attractive, employee-oriented policies. Offering on-site employees the flexibility to work from home once in a while is another bonus for retaining existing employees and improving employee satisfaction.
The employees' perspective
While employers approach remote work teams as a means of reducing costs and improving productivity, employees look at remote working lifestyles as a great way to achieve work-life balance. The flexibility of a work-from-home job and the time saved in commuting all add up to improved employee satisfaction and productivity.
Elance conducted a study of freelance online professionals in 2011, where they found that almost 30% of workers began freelancing to be their own boss and to work on the kind of projects they love. The top three benefits of remote working were mentioned as:
- The ability to control your own schedule – 90%
- Follow your passion – 87%
- Eliminate commute time – 85%
For employers, the right attitude is clear: consider your remote workforce as an asset that gives your company the edge over competition, instead of railing against the inconvenience of managing teams that you can’t directly hover over.