How remote working is transforming the work environment

How remote working is transforming the work environment

Check out our latest article to find out more about how remote working is revolutionising the work environment as we know it.
  • The rise of remote work
  • Creating a successful remote work environment

Not too long ago, geography was a very important factor in determining the quantity and quality of job opportunities that were available. Unless an individual was willing or able to relocate, they typically had only a limited selection of jobs to choose from in their immediate surroundings. However, this is now starting to change. Due to recent events, which forced companies to embrace remote work practices, a growing number of jobs are being outsourced or offshored.

Of course, outsourcing and offshoring are not novel concepts and have been in use for decades. One thing that has changed, however, since those early days is that it was mainly blue-collar jobs in the manufacturing sector and routine service jobs that were outsourced and offshored, while white-collar jobs were relatively safe. That is no longer the case, however, with jobs like computer programming, graphic design, and accountancy being increasingly delegated to workers sometimes living on a completely different continent. It’s a perfectly understandable development, since these remote workers are just as skilled as those coming into the office every day, while being significantly cheaper.

The rise of remote work

Another reason why remote work is picking up pace is that the jobs mentioned above don’t require a physical office for workers to do their job. In fact, they can be done from just about anywhere, provided there is access to a computer and an internet connection. This is why such jobs are often referred to as ‘anywhere jobs’. According to some estimates, nearly 20 per cent of workers today have an anywhere job. As well as not being tied to a physical location, these jobs are characterised by limited responsibility placed on the workers, who are only required to make a few low-key decisions per month, with little to no direct commercial consequence. Anywhere jobs are also asynchronous in nature, which means that workers can be in a different time zone to the rest of the company.

It’s entirely possible that one day, companies will only hold on to the core staff required for in-person collaboration and decision making, while every other role will be outsourced or offshored. There’s no room for panic, though. Remote working benefits everyone; it gives workers access to better-paying jobs, while allowing companies to reduce their costs and also giving them access to a much wider talent pool. However, to make remote working possible and ensure that everyone has the same opportunities, governments need to invest more in digital infrastructure.

Creating a successful remote work environment

While a remote work environment does bring some challenges, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a success. Protocol Labs, a US-based research, development, and deployment lab for network protocols, is an excellent example of a productive remote work environment. The lab uses multiple tools, including Slack, GitHub, and Google Drive, to streamline communication, which can be disjointed when people work in different time zones. Remote work can also result in information overload, which was addressed by Protocol Labs with the creation of a company handbook, bringing together all the information employees need – such as travel guidelines or expense policies – in a single space. 

However, even in a remote work environment, synchronous meetings are sometimes necessary. Protocol Labs, for instance, uses Zoom video-conferencing software to hold meetings like brainstorming sessions, which are recorded for those who cannot attend. They also hold biweekly, company-wide meetings where teams share their life and project updates and celebrate birthdays.

Closing thoughts

As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent across industry, even jobs that were once safe from outsourcing and offshoring are being delegated to workers living abroad. While remote work does bring some new challenges, when implemented properly it can benefit employees and employers alike. This is where HR departments come in. By adopting innovative tools and strategies like video-conferencing software and regular biweekly meetings, they can create a highly productive remote work environment.

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