At 4PSA, we are strong proponents of remote working. We develop solutions that assist this culture and we know first hand that it works to the benefit of modern companies – where most of the workforce uses a computer to carry out its duties.
20 years ago, remote working was a luxury that few could afford. As a culture, it didn’t even exist. Firstly, there weren’t nearly as many types of businesses that could benefit from it. Then there’s the aspect of mobility – namely, the lack thereof – back then. Neither the hardware, nor the software (let alone the Internet) could sustain a telecommuting culture in the 90s, or even in early 2000s. Cloud computing was virtually inexistent, laptops were clunky, wireless Internet was scarce, tablets were still in their prototype stages, and because of this, people were forced to come into the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to do their job. Not anymore.
37% of U.S. workers telecommuted in 2015
It goes without saying that teleworking is a non-issue today. Wireless Internet is ubiquitous, our phones can do what our laptops couldn’t in the early 2000s, we have all-day battery life on everything and the Cloud lets us collaborate and communicate on the go. In fact, the Cloud is single most important element of the equation, because it ties everything together and gives us the power to carry out our duties from home, out of a coffee shop, even on a park bench.
Gallup set out to determine the state of telecommuting today and found that the average worker telecommutes two days per month, that 46% do so during the workday, and that productivity isn’t hindered as a result of this. 36% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted this year. In 1995, that number was 9%.
Telecommuting is common among those who’ve had more formal education, those who are upper income, and among white-collar professions (manager, executives, etc). Gallup further noticed a significant shift in the nature of telecommuting, from its use as a supplement to its use as a replacement for the entire workday in recent times. The is rooted in the research firm’s next finding: more than half of the surveyed people said remote workers are just as productive as those who work in a business office.
Startups know it works
For some, remote working is not just a benefit – it’s the way to do business. Take our partners at Dell, for example. Through their “Connected Workplace” initiative, they offer remote working possibilities, flexible schedules, part-time options and even compressed work weeks. Right now, one out of every five Dell team members utilizes the Connected Workplace program. Given the increase in productivity and the efficiency improvements witnessed, the company plans to have half of its employees working remotely by 2020.
Teleworking isn’t for everyone, of course. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, for her part, finds it unacceptable. In 2013, she famously asked everyone to come back to the office and do their job properly. However, it does seem to work for small incubators and startups whose products are software-based. And we now have evidence that it works. Applied not as a culture, but as an option, it produces visible results in nearly every type of business. Surely a lot of companies will Buffer’s example. But, before we tear down our offices, let’s see how they do in the long run.