Well April and May have been busy months for Roar Software, not least because our illustrious leader, Paul, was away in Rwanda for almost 2 weeks working on a software development and integration project for a live event. You can read more about that here.
Even though Paul was over 4,000 miles away, the time difference was only 1 hour and the only thing that inhibited communication was his broadband speed. Having Paul working away from the office for that length of time raised the topic of, for want of a better word, ‘home’ working. I say for want of a better word because that was the first thing that I stumbled over – ‘home’. How many of us believe that ‘home working’ is just a euphemism for spending the day in your PJ’s answering the odd call?
For years, I worked as a field-based employee and the majority of my time was spent on the road, visiting clients at their own premises. And there was still a stigma if I was going to be working from home to catch up on my paperwork, even though my ‘office’ was hundreds of miles away!
Home v Remote
There is plenty of research to show that home workers are often more productive than their office-based counterparts but many employers still seem to be reluctant to encourage home working and I believe that is, at least in part, due to that PJ image. Perhaps a change of language may help? In the US, the term often used is ‘remote’ workers. Apart from increased productivity, having employee work remotely can offer many other advantages, for example, reduced overheads as less office space is required, a larger pool of people to select the workforce from as there are no geographical limitations (especially good if the work is highly skilled and there is a shortage of talent); a generally more relaxed workforce as they no longer have a stressful commute into the office.
In this day and age, is there really an excuse for not encouraging home/remote working and for not ensuring that it works for everyone? As many companies are now looking to migrate their systems to the Cloud, there are even fewer reasons to insist that everyone is in the same working space all the time. Anything can be accessed from anywhere and the technology to do so is just as accessible and affordable. With so many different communication methods open to us now, there is no excuse for remote workers not to join meetings
Of course, there is a downside to having a remote workforce – the employees can feel, well, remote. Consolidata experimented with complete remote working for 12 months and this was definitely one of the negatives they highlighted. For most companies though, a central office is maintained that employees can visit and hot desk in. In the same way that we integrate our systems and software to function more efficiently and work better together, we can use a variety of tools to ensure that even a remote workforce is integrated. For example, having extra cameras and screens when people are joining remote meetings so that everyone can see each other and not just the presentation/chair. Hubspot experimented with “remote week” and have some great suggestions for meetings.
Technological advancements coupled with an increased use of Cloud computing will, I believe, see an ever increasing number of companies move to employ remote workers.
With all the rail disruption of the last few weeks and ever increasing traffic congestion on our roads, remote working is looking like an even more attractive option for everyone! Gain an extra 2-4 hours a day by getting rid of that commute? Yes please!