Why Doesn’t Everyone Work Remotely?

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in working remotely | No Comments

One of the great things about remote working is the smug feeling that comes when you hear about or see commuters battling their way into work each morning, putting up with bad weather, late trains and terrible traffic.

A recent article in The Guardian looked at the problems suffered by commuters during the strike action by the London Underground, and asked the question – why are more people are not working remotely?

Among some of the stats it highlights are that remote workers take fewer sick days and are 13% more productive (according to Stanford University research). It also highlighted a Virgin Media Business survey that predicted as many as 60% of employees based in the office will work from their homes within eight years.

So What is Stopping More People from Working Remotely?

The article then went on to highlight some of the reasons why more bosses are less likely to let their employees work away from the office. These included:

  • They don’t trust their employees to work outside the office.
  • They are not prepared to invest in technology for activities such as video conferencing.

The second of these highlights a lack of knowledge among businesses as to what they really need to make remote working successful. As many posts on this blog have highlighted before, you really do not need to make large investments to equip employees with what they need to work remotely.

In fact, remote working can lead to some large savings. Desks can be shared, office space can be reduced and energy bills can be cut, more than making up for any expenses to equip the team with the tools needed for remote working.

The article also highlighted some of the reasons why employees themselves are less likely to want to work remotely. These included:

  • They fear being less likely to get a promotion because many believe their performance directly relates to the time they spend in the office.
  • Many do not want to work on their own all the time and that they need the social contact of a ‘community’.

There are some excellent tools available today that can make social contact easier for remote workers. Although it is not the same as working with other people, remote workers can combat this by not only using video conferencing tools regularly, but by finding places where they can work with other people.

Practices like hot-desking are becoming increasingly popular. These allow remote workers to work for an hour or longer in an office environment with other remote workers, and this can go some way to preventing any feelings of isolation.

Is Remote Working for Everyone?

It’s probably fair to say that remote working is not for everyone, and that there will always be some people taking on the tube strikes to battle into the office. However, as it becomes ever easier to work remotely, the nightmare of getting into the office when the tube is on strike will, for many at least, one day be a thing of the past.

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