The digital age is driving major transformation in the workplace. These forces are altering nearly every aspect of business, not to mention, a new class of employee has emerged: the remote worker. Who are remote workers and how do they benefit our modern economy?
What is a Remote Worker?
Put simply, a remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office (this can be part-time, full-time, or contract work). This individual might work from home, from a coffee shop, or really from anywhere that is not a regular office. More than ever before, businesses are demonstrating an openness to remote work through new policies and flexible work options. According to the Wall Street Journal, two-thirds of companies today allow employees to work at home occasionally, and 38% allow some workers to do so regularly. Furthermore, remote-only in 2017 is a viable career path, with increasingly more management and C-suite positions turning into location-independent roles.
The Benefits of Remote Work
A lot of the conversation to date has centered around the benefits of remote work for the employee. However, as companies embrace this new model and there are concrete examples and success stories to point to, it’s clear that it’s also beneficial for the employer. Once a company makes the decision to engage remote workers, they immediately breakdown the barriers to hiring talent within their geographic vicinity.
Imagine if every time you hired, you hired the absolute best person for the role, regardless of where they were located. You would be able to recruit the best of the best. Additionally, people that live in the same geographic areas may suffer from groupthink. Expanding into other geographies diversifies thoughts and opinions — and diversity is a hallmark of the most innovative and successful companies. While some are still debating the merits, we say remote work is the work of the future. And you need a strategy.
Four Reasons Why You Need a Remote Work Policy
1. Millennials view remote work as the norm.
Millennials are the fastest-growing generation in the U.S. workforce. And as the first to have grown up with the internet and mobile communications as a matter of everyday life, they are transforming attitudes toward work. They are always on and constantly connected. They also believe that remote work is likely to offer them a better personal life. As Millennials increasingly enter the workforce, flexible work arrangements are going to be an expectation, not a perk.
According to Jennifer Parris, “From the outside, it’s a thrilling way to work. You could have a job with a remote company that allows you to work from anywhere in the world ... It’s all in a day’s work (and life) for digital nomads. With a strong Internet connection, a laptop, and not much more, digital nomads can work from literally every corner of the globe without missing a deadline.”
2. Companies that offer remote work options are more attractive.
It's not just millennials that see a better work-life balance as important. Perhaps the greatest appeal of working remotely is having a career with the freedom to take control of personal time.
The research is clear that getting this balance right makes for a happier, healthier employee — 84% of remote workers feel a stronger sense of purpose than they did when working as traditional team mem- bers, and nearly 40% are strongly convinced that they’re happier than their colleagues who go into the office every day. In turn, companies that prioritize their employees’ work-life balance are increasingly attractive. In today’s talent war, every company is looking at how to attract and retain the best talent, and having the right workforce is a major win.
3. Remote workers allow an organization to tap highly specialized skills.
Employers are increasingly looking for knowledge workers with highly evolved skills and education, and have recently discovered that a good majority of these evolved remote workers spend the majority of time away from an office. Highly specialized, multi- affiliated professionals (MAPs) are individuals with decades of experience, who value the autonomy and flexibility of contract work.
MAPs represent a growing segment of the remote workforce — from managers, to lawyers, to CFOs, to consultants—they’ve been trained at top schools and firms and somewhere along the way chose to pursue independence. These specialized workers are engaged to perform a job or project without a long-term commitment from either side, and the economics of this type of engagement are increasingly driving both companies and MAPs to find each other.
4. Work is increasingly project-based.
In the 2017 State of the Services Economy report, 58% of businesses stated that they do mostly project-based work, and 89% said project- based work is trending up as a percentage of their total work. However, project-based work is much more complex, and it's a constant struggle to balance the supply of available resources and demand. In response, companies are leveraging more and more external freelancers and contractors to supplement their full-time employees in periods where there is a spike of activity, or a unique or temporary skill is required.
This extendable workforce allows a business to engage the right skills and resources at the right moment; while reducing large investments of time and costs asso- ciated with recruiting, training, and managing resources and careers for company personnel. When hiring contractors, the ability to reach beyond your organization's immediate vicinity for this talent is a competitive advantage. Therefore, as your company begins to view freelancers and contractors as a growth engine for the business, you need to also develop an effective strategy to engage an increasingly remote, graphically dispersed workforce.
If you want to learn more, download our most recent ebook,
The Rise of the Remote Worker in the Digital Age.