A recent study shows that over 70% of people would leave their jobs for a position that allows them to work remotely. This fact has already led many employers to transition some of their highest paid positions to being entirely or partially location-independent, and setting up processes to support remote collaboration.
And it’s not just a question of employee satisfaction, or expanding the talent pool. Remote collaboration has a ton of benefits. Without further ado, here’s our overview of the advantages of remote teamwork.
The Many Advantages of Remote Collaboration for Employees
Remote collaboration has benefits both for the employer and the employee. First of all, let’s take a look at how the employee benefits from a remote culture:
1. Sense of freedom, and thus, responsibility
While remote work isn’t for everyone, some people can thrive on the feeling of freedom it gives you. Because with freedom comes responsibility. This can make the remote worker feel like they’re in charge of their work, and thus also responsible for it. (Which is, at the end of the day, very true!)
Needless to say, both the employer and employee actually gain from this. After all, who wouldn’t like employees who take responsibility for their job.
Another argument is for increased productivity when collaborating remotely. The research backs this up. A lot of companies are discovering that their remote teams get more done and that the employees are willing to go the extra mile (probably a result of 1.!). For example, a recent study found that 53% of remote employees say they are willing to work overtime, compared to only 28% of on-site employees. How’s that for a benefit!
This same survey of remote workers found that:
- 45% of remote workers report they are able to work smarter and get more done in less time
- 44% of them say they are less distracted and accomplish more, as compared to the office
- 90% of managers report their employees are more productive if they have the flexibility to choose when and how they work
And it makes sense. When working remotely, everyone can plan and execute their work to their style and preference. Are you most productive in complete silence? No problem, you can work from your empty home throughout the day (assuming your home is empty during the day!). Does heavy metal blasted from 4 speakers help you focus? Do it, you won’t bother anyone. Like to work from the couch? Kitchen table? The occasional coffee shop, cafe or library visit? Go for it!
Remote-flexible or fully remote companies give you exactly that comfort: you choose your work environment and what goes on there, so you can get your work done!
3. Natural asynchronous communication, combined with real-time communication only when necessary
Work is evolving and, to an extent, moving from the analogue world to the digital sphere. More and more companies are making the most of what technology has to offer, from video conferencing to team chat and task management. This allows for both asynchronous communication and collaboration, combined with real-time communication as necessary.
What’s so beneficial about that, you ask? Many companies have found that asynchronous communication and collaboration, facilitated by online tools and time zone differences, lower levels of stress and urgency. Furthermore, they can even make communication more effective. This is so because when communicating in writing, people have the time to think through what they want to say. In fact, because they have to put it in writing, they have to think through what they say, thus making communication more productive and clear.
That’s not to say that real-time communication is all bad. It has its time and place. All remote collaboration should involve some real-time communication, in the form of in-person meetings or video conferencing calls (or both). Again, as the real-time communication is planned, all parties can prepare accordingly. This will, more likely than not, result in effective communication.
4. No time wasted on commuting
That’s right, remote collaboration does not involve commuting. Ask any commuter and they will say there aren’t many more frustrating things than being stuck in traffic, stressed out that you’re going to be late for work. Commuters are also exposing themselves to dangerous pollutants: the levels of some forms of harmful particulate matter inside cars was found to be twice as high as previously thought. Not good.
An average commute of 30 minutes means five hours wasted in an average week. Double that if your commute is 1 hour. This is time that could be spent with your spouse, your kids, or your cat!
The Advantages of Remote Collaboration for Employers
Now, what about the employers and managers? Let’s take a look at how they benefit from remote collaboration:
1. Bigger talent pool
Having a bigger talent pool is a major benefit that anyone who’s ever hired anyone will appreciate. First of all, more and more people looking for jobs expect at least some remote-flexibility in the workplace. Secondly, if you’re willing to allow for fully-remote team members, then you can hire people literally from anywhere in the world.
Following from the bigger talent pool, remote collaboration will help you ensure diversity in your team. Being in different locations and environments will help with diversity in perspectives, views and ideas. Even more, if you can hire people from around the world, fully remote or not, you will reap the benefits of diverse teams.
Companies around the world invest a lot of money in research to ensure that their products and services cover the ideas and needs of the diverse masses of our world. What better way to ensure these ideas are built into your company’s products or services than to have a diverse team.
3. A happy team
When done right, remote collaboration will help your team live a more fulfilling life. As outlined above, your team will be able to work more productively, in a way that suits them, with a sense of freedom. If that’s not a good recipe for a happy team, then I don’t know what is. And happy, content teams are easier to manage than unhappy ones.
Do note that remote collaboration does not necessarily suit everyone. Some people prefer a safe routine, a specific desk at a specific office to get work done. Some people work better under direct supervision, pressure and (productive) stress from managers. If that’s the case, you may want to try and build a remote-flexible culture in your team, setting up the appropriate processes and tools that support both those on-site at the office and those working remotely.
How does Remote Collaboration Work?
While some companies have a fully remote team, others believe that a balance of office and remote work is the key to happy teams and tons of productivity. Regardless of where the company decides to stand on this “remote work spectrum”, there are plenty of processes and collaboration software that are designed to help improve communication in remote teams.
Sometimes, the reality of not having a specific office to work in each day can be challenging and even decrease productivity. Some people can even get lonely, once they are no longer surrounded by their colleagues, friends and even family.
People are creatures of habit; with a remote position comes the challenge to create an independent routine without anyone overseeing what you actually do on a day-to-day basis. If you have a telecommuting job and are longing for an office setting or community, coworking spaces may just be the place for you.
Coworking locations are essentially a designated space for remote workers, entrepreneurs, and even start-up businesses to work from in a collaborative setting. If your business is entirely made up of remote workers, it can be difficult to gain a real sense of company culture or to regularly collaborate and network with like-minded colleagues.
The Advantages of Coworking When Remote
Coworking gives people who have the option to telecommute a chance to establish a community of similarly remote workers and habitually return to one dependable, dynamic office setting.
Telecommuters who use coworking spaces during the day also find that they often thrive in their positions when given the chance to work and environment with other creative, collaborative people. Plus, it is sometimes a relief to simply have the option retreating to an office setting if needed, as it can become draining to work from home all day, every day, with no one else around.
Next time you are feeling isolated while working from home, or working and travelling, consider trying out a coworking space in your local area. You’ll meet and work among some like-minded telecommuters and entrepreneurs.
Clearly, the popularity of coworking spaces across the globe demonstrates that these types of spaces are extremely popular among remote workers, who are also known as digital nomads. People genuinely like to feel a sense of belonging, and these spaces give remote workers that chance to be part of a community when they otherwise wouldn’t normally interact with like-minded workers on a daily basis. A report by Harvard Business Review cited the following benefits to coworking:
- Improved creativity
- Furthered remote collaboration
- Less competition
- Strengthened work identity
- More flexible hours
Coworking By the Numbers
The business world is already leaning towards co-working, and we’ve got the numbers to back this up. According to the Global Coworking Survey in 2017, the amount of people renting a workstation in a coworking space reached a whopping 1 million (up from 510,000 in 2015).
This high number is a result of there being over 13,800 coworking spaces worldwide today, compared to 8,700 in 2015. This trend is further reflected buy code working managers on a global scale—39% of whom plan to open a new space, and 27% of whom plan to expand their existing space to incorporate more desks.