More of us are now awakening to the fact that workplaces are not quite the places of productivity that we hoped them to be, but that they are actually rife with distraction. Not to mention the painful hours of commuting tacked onto long days at the office.
All this can be avoided with a flexible work arrangement, and that’s an option that many are seeking nowadays.
According to a recent FlexJobs survey on remote work, 66% of professionals believed that they would be more productive if they worked remotely – instead of at a traditional office. The reasons cited in favor of remote work? 76% wanted “fewer interruptions from colleagues and fewer distractions,” 70% sought to “reduce stress from commuting,” and 69% preferred to avoid “office politics.”
The survey also revealed the dismal stat of only a measly 7% of workers saying that they were “most productive in the office during regular hours.” And if only a small percentage of your people feel like they’re getting their best work done during their allotted working hours – something is clearly broken in the traditional workplace model.
This is because people generally don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold when it comes to productivity. Some morning larks can churn out quality work in the early AMs, while others are the most energetic and creative during the unholy hours after midnight. Which is why it’s actually rather unreasonable to expect all people to produce their best work within the 9–5 window.
According to Brie Reynolds, a career specialist with FlexJobs, the rise of freelancing and remote work in the past decade shows that workers are more in-tune with the future of work. She thinks that it comes from a combination of factors which encompass demographic trends and widespread remote-friendly technology. “Millennials have grown up largely with technology and remote work having always been available and a possibility, so they are approaching work with the same expectations,” said Reynolds.
These trends have a lot to do with an abundance of choice which is powered by new technology. Many companies are now offering flexible work arrangements as a perk for new joiners. And if you can do the majority of your work with a laptop, you can even work for a company full-time from anywhere in the world (interest piqued? Google “fully-distributed teams”).
Reynolds points out that telecommuting has grown 115% in the past decade and “shows no signs of slowing.” Despite this, it doesn’t mean that everyone will be working remotely in the future, as some actually prefer the social on-site work environment with plenty of face-to-face interaction.
“The future of work will definitely be more flexible, but the key thing for employers to realize is that this trend doesn’t mean they’ll need to send all their workers home to work remotely. The vast majority of remote and flexible work arrangements are a hybrid model where people work in the office some of the time, and at home some of the time,” she said.
The best approach, Reynolds suggests, is for employers to “craft remote work programs that help workers be productive, while still retaining the benefits of in-office interactions.”
The hybrid route is perhaps the best approach for the time being, as some companies still lack the proper tools and processes to make remote work programs a success.
As a recent Gallup survey points out that while fully-remote work arrangements are on the rise in the United States from 15-20%, employees that work from home 100% of the time were among the least engaged. This has to do with unclear job descriptions and feelings of isolation.
It’s important to note though, that remote work isn’t the problem here, but it’s poor management.
Gallup points out that organizations that were successful in their remote working programs were “quite disciplined in creating structured plans and processes,” which included flying employees to the company HQ for face-to-face meetings, in-depth training programs, and a “buddy system” for new employees during the early months of their role.
Implementing remote work programs for your business is going to be a lot of hard work. But with the fast-growing trend of talented workers that are considering flexible work arrangements as a non-negotiable perk, it’s becoming impossible to ignore.