The fast-spreading coronavirus is the last reason we want to be hyping up remote work. But alas, here we are.
2020 was deemed “the year of remote work" by LinkedIn leaders. More companies than ever were projected to make true strides in shifting to a more flexible, sustainable remote work model.
As companies turn to remote work as a potential solution to minimize the spread of COVID-19, there are some other, very real concerns:
- According to Workplaceless, only 30% of business leaders feel their company is well prepared for the increase of remote work
- Less than 10% of employees strongly agree that their leaders have the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy
- Before the virus began spreading, 38% of remote workers received zero training on tips and strategies for effective remote work
Tammy Bjelland, CEO of Workplaceless, even expressed concern about both employees and employers being extremely ill-prepared for this abrupt work culture shift:
While remote work is a valid strategy to maintain business continuity in times of crisis like the outbreak of COVID-19, suddenly allowing remote work with no clear policy or processes in place will not have the same positive outcomes as investing adequate resources into preparing leaders and employees for success in a remote environment.
And these are fair concerns. With the current public health crisis, a huge chunk of the workforce is starting to experience remote work for the first time.
And the patterns don't lie: Employees generally enjoy it. But many larger companies are typically reluctant to change, especially to such a fundamental reshaping of the workplace.
In spite of all of the bad consequences of the recent virus outbreak, remote work might be the best thing to come out of all of this. It might finally bring this work revolution to the mainstream, after years of slowly brewing only within small teams or freelancers.
At Littledata, we have a fully distributed team in four different countries and six different cities. Here are some benefits of our global remote culture:
1. Shorter commute time
Most remote workers do their work either at home or at co-working spaces or cafes (and the same is true of our team). These are usually closer to home. Compared to my last workplace, I now save 40 minutes every day when I go into our co-working space, or 70 minutes when I work from home.
That might not seem like much, but 70 minutes saved every work day comes out to 24 hours saved per month (3 full work days). That wasted energy can be put to better use by focusing it on daily work tasks.
2. Less distractions
An office is usually a loud place, and even more so in an open-space layout. Although I like talking to colleagues (even though I'm more of an introvert), it can be unproductive. It can take up to 23 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption.
Most of the time, I only keep the essentials with me (laptop, charger and headphones). I don’t have to water any plants, I don’t have to rearrange my cat photos on my desk, I don’t even have a fixed desk to be emotionally attached to. 🙂
My co-working space is specifically tailored to tech companies. So even when I do get distracted, the talks are mainly about new technologies, which could actually help solve some bugs at work. Every few days, we have tech meetups organized as well.
3. Everyone arrives in meetings on time
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's true; when the calendar alerts you of a meeting, everyone is usually on the conference call within a minute or two.
Every teammate is very focused on the tasks at hand, so not much useless talk occurs.
Sure, the connection might drop for someone, or someone might mute their microphone by mistake, but these things get better over time. Plus, getting everyone on the same page is easier by sharing your screen — not cramming the whole team into a conference room.
4. Mutual trust and empathy
At the heart of every successful remote team is trust.
Sounds almost too simple, right? It’s not. When employers trust their people and the people trust their employer, good things tend to happen. Companies tend to grow, cultures tend to strengthen, and productivity tends to spike.
And this isn’t unique to remote work. It’s at the core of good leadership for any organization — government, schools, non-profits, sports teams, etc.
Remote work as a result of COVID-19 isn’t a tropical vacation — it’s a stressful time, especially for workers living in urban areas.
Your team leaders should empower you (and trust you) to do your best work, even during this coronavirus outbreak. We certainly feel this kind of trust and empathy from our leaders at Littledata!
5. Bonus: benefits for companies
As companies embrace remote work, they often realize that there are more benefits than overhead cost-cutting:
- Recruiting: when you make your operations remote, you have a much larger talent pool to choose from.
- Global support teams: you probably provide some sort of support to your customers or partners, either by phone, email or live chat. Having support teams around the world helps your team cover any timezone, and faster response times means happier customers.
This is especially true for ecommerce companies and Shopify stores, whether you're selling only online or doing a combination of brick-and-mortar business (curbside pickup anybody?) and online sales. Customer experience becomes really important for ecommerce support teams.
Of course, working remotely is not for everyone. Reduced oversight and in-person communication can reduce productivity. However, at Littledata, we believe the opposite is often true: working remotely can not only increase productivity, but can also boon creativity, critical thinking and lead to happier employees.
During this coronavirus outbreak, companies are trying to figure it out. But one thing's for sure; for many people, remote work is more productive — whether or not we're social distancing.
Note: We're hiring at Littledata! Check out our job openings