What is remote work: Meaning, definition, advantages and challenges
In the not-so-distant past, nobody even knew what remote work was. Until covid forced companies to let people work from home, coming to the traditional office setup was a usual norm. But the norms seem to have changed. People increasingly prefer to work remotely from anywhere which is fun, lets them combine work and vacation, or allows a break from the mundane. But is this what remote work is supposed to mean? We often question, what is remote work?
Remote job is the practice of employees doing their jobs from a location other than a central office operated by the employer. These locations include a worker’s own home, a co-working or other shared space, work from mountain thing, or any other place outside of the traditional corporate office building or campus. It has become increasingly common for employees to do their jobs from remote locations, instead of attending the traditional offices.
Working remotely has gained fast acceptance due to the flexibility and convenience it offers. Employers see the benefit in it for they can save costs by eliminating the expense of real estate and human capital. It has become easier to recruit and hire employees since geographical barriers do not exist anymore.
For employees, working from home leads to reduced or eliminated commuting times and productivity improvements. As a result, there is a huge shift in the way people are choosing to work. Rather than sticking to the confines of a traditional office, many are now choosing to work from wherever they like, be it from the comfort of their home, a co-working space, or some other shared location. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for employees to work remotely from anywhere, allowing businesses to be more efficient while allowing workers to be more productive.
The practice of remote workers doing their jobs from a location other than the traditional corporate office is becoming more and more popular with every passing day. This is particularly prevalent in industries that require long working hours and frequent travel such as technology, finance and consulting. So what are the factors which make remote work successful? Here are the 2 most important things which can make remote work a success -
Remote work isn’t just for the independent workers. Companies are realizing the benefits of tapping into the remote workforce, which allows them to hire the best talent without the hassles of managing space and employees in multiple locations. Virtual teams rely heavily on strong, reliable connectivity solutions that can support intensive use especially when you are working remotely from home. This includes high-speed internet and mobile data.
Remote work requires a different level of collaboration than traditional work environments. Remote workers need to be able to communicate as if they were all in the same room no matter whether they work remotely from anywhere. For this, companies need to invest in secure and easy-to-use applications to carry out functions like chat, video-conferencing, and screen sharing. It’s also important for remote work cultures to encourage a “huddle” or “meeting” mentality, rather than a “mechanical” or “buttoned-up” culture so that employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and collaborating even when they’re not physically present together.
Some of the common advantages of remote work are -
Working remotely allows workers to stay at a place and save both time and money spent on traveling to and from their work location. This often means that a remote worker gains the ability to work remotely from anywhere, from a location that is most convenient for them, which often leads to increased productivity.
In addition to saving time, working from a location other than the central office can give a remote worker a feeling of autonomy. This can be especially beneficial for employees who do not like to work under pressure or are more creative in a distraction-free environment.
By working remotely, employees are able to avoid the costs and hassle of commuting. While commuting can be a minor inconvenience, spending money and time on it can be a major drain on the financial and time resources of the employee.
Distractions are the major cause of lower work efficiency. To mingle up in your work environment is a good thing unless it starts affecting your work potential. And thus, working from a location other than the central office can give remote workers the ability to avoid office distractions, thereby enhancing the overall productivity.
Virtual teams have more adaptability to adverse situations as they do not need to be in the same location as their jobs. This can be a boon for business continuity planning, particularly in any unexpected circumstances that may occur. For example, if virtual teams are more naturally adaptable, they may be better equipped to function if the physical location of the business is compromised (e.g. due to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or some other natural disasters). In such cases, virtual teams may be better positioned to carry on business as usual with minimal disruption.
Remote workers tend to require significantly less physical office space than traditional corporate offices. As a result, companies that utilize a significant portion of their workforce in a remote setting are often able to save significant amounts of money over the long term by investing in smaller office buildings. In addition to saving money, this greater long-term flexibility allows companies to adapt to changing business needs and conditions much more easily. For example, if a company has a significant portion of remote workers, it may be able to avoid the costs and hassle of moving its entire corporate headquarters due to the location of its main business offices.
Hiring remote workers can significantly expand the pool of potential candidates, as all the candidates don’t need to be available locally. This is particularly true for companies that operate in a global market, as not being located near a candidate can be a non-issue for those looking to work internationally. As a result, hiring a remote workforce can offer a manager a much larger talent pool from which to choose, which can greatly expand their ability to find the right person for the open position. In addition, because companies don’t need to offer expensive relocation packages for remote workers, this can also expand the budget for hiring new employees.
Some of the common challenges of working remotely are -
Remote work is often touted as a solution to the challenges of today’s gig economy. However, without clear guidelines and policies in place, employees can lose their motivation and reduce their productivity. This is because there are rarely face-to-face interactions that build relationships and foster communication. As a result, remote jobs tend to be less familiar and more competitive.
Because remote jobs are typically done from a single location, a lack of trust, or the virtual equivalent of looking over someone’s shoulder to make sure they are doing their work, can increase anxiety and decrease morale. This is because there is no physical or visual cue that someone else is also working in the same space. As a result, employees may feel as though they are being monitored and asked to perform tasks without sufficient guidance. This is particularly true for those who are used to a more collaborative environment, where employees would frequently pass the work off to one another to increase efficiency.
Even when employees are working in the same physical space, inadequate tools and technologies can be a productivity and morale killer for virtual teams. As a result, employees may begin to question whether they can trust the information they are receiving, causing them to become even more guarded and less open with their knowledge and ideas. This inhibits the free exchange of ideas that is necessary for innovation and progress.
Finally, another challenge can arise when either the remote worker or remote employer is not working remotely as an intentional choice. Remote work is best suited for people and organizations who seek to leverage the strengths of distributed teams in order to be more productive and innovative. When either party is working without a strategic plan in place, it can result in a loss of motivation, a breakdown in communication, and a loss of efficiency.
Remote work is on the rise, with many traditional companies now offering the ability to work from anywhere. This not only gives employees the ability to work where it fits their schedule and makes them more productive, it also allows them to take advantage of the many benefits of working from home, such as not having to commute or wear a suit. But on the other hand, there are several restrictions that limit the advantages of working remotely. However, these can be conquered with the help of strategic plans, wise decisions, patience, and above all, mutual cooperation.