Thanks to coronavirus, you are likely working remotely full-time, with no end in sight. As a result, it’s important to ensure you are set up to be productive. Workers across the country need to have a designated workspace with the right technology; ways of dealing with pets, kids, and other potential disruptions; and a schedule that invites social contact and stimulation that typically would come from being in a workplace with others.
Working from home is more than a desirable perk – for many, it is a priority. In fact, according to flexible workspace provider, IWG, an annual survey revealed that 74 percent of respondents believe that flexible working has become the new normal. Indeed, having a choice of work environment is now a key factor for many job seekers when evaluating new career opportunities.
According to an analysis conducted by job search site FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, there has been a major upward trend in the amount of people working remotely in the U.S.
Check out the statistics:
· From 2016 to 2017, remote work grew 7.9%.
· Over the last five years, it grew 44% and over the prior ten years, it grew 91%.
· Between 2005 and 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work.
· In 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers were working remotely. Today that number is at 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population.
Surveys also found:
According to 80 percent of U.S. workers, they would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working. More than a third say they would prioritize such arrangements over a more prestigious role. In a different survey, more than three fourths of respondents said that flexible schedules and remote work are the most effective nonmonetary ways to retain employees.
85 percent of businesses say that productivity has increased because of greater flexibility. Further, 77 percent of employees say allowing them to work remotely may lead to lower operating costs, while 90 percent say allowing for more flexible work arrangements and schedules would increase employee morale.
A study of 1,001 remote workers conducted by Amerisleep found that they are 57 percent more likely than the average American to be satisfied with their job. Stress levels also decreased, with nearly 80 percent of respondents describing their typical stress level during the workweek as “moderately stressed” or “not stressed.”
According to FlexJobs’ annual survey, 65% of respondents are more productive in their home office than in a traditional workplace. This is due to fewer distractions and interruptions, minimal office politics, less stress from no commute, and a personalized, quiet environment. In another survey, 47% said they strongly agree that flexible work arrangements “would or do allow me to be more productive” and 31% said they somewhat agree.
Remote workers have a tendency to take less sick days, most likely due to less exposure to germs in a typical office setting. According to the Remote Work Survey conducted by Indeed, 50% of remote employees said working from reduced their sick days and 56% said it reduced their absences. In FlexJobs’ Work-Life-Relationship survey, 86% of respondents think a flexible job would reduce their stress, and 89% said they think they would be able to take better care of themselves.
An obvious benefit of remote work is the fact that it reduces traffic congestion, road wear and tear, and air pollution with either a reduced or eliminated commute into an office. According to the “2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce” report: “Existing telecommuters reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking over 600,000 cars off the road for a year. If the work-at-home workforce expanded to include those who could and wanted to telecommute half of the time, the GHG savings would equate to taking 10 million cars off the road.” The annual environmental impact of half-time remote work (for those who both want to work remotely and have a compatible job) would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce off the road. Reducing commuter travel could be the quickest and cheapest way to reduce everyone’s carbon footprints.
In a study conducted by Condeco Software, 41 percent of surveyed businesses report that they already offer some degree of remote working. Additionally, 60 percent provide flextime opportunities that let employees choose when to start and end their workday. Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028, a statistic that will likely increase due to COVID-19. Further, 75% of current teleworkers say they plan to work remotely for the rest of their career!
Here are strategies and tips to be a successful remote worker:
Are you required to stick to a nine-to-five schedule or is there room for flexibility? Are you allowed to work on public WiFi? Which tools do they need to communicate? Zoom for video conferencing, Microsoft Teams for group chats or Asana for project management? Ensure that you have access to the right equipment, including a laptop, network access, passcodes, and instructions for remote log-in, including two-factor authentication.
While a home office isn’t needed, it’s necessary to have a private, quiet space for work. You should separate your work area from your personal spaces and use that area only for work, not for other activities.
Do you have kids? Their Facetiming and Xbox activities might slow your download speeds and connection. Moving as close as possible to WiFi routers can help or even switching to Ethernet via a dongle and Ethernet cable.
For jobs that require making long distance and/or international calls, Google Hangouts, Skype and WhatsApp let you make calls over the internet across the globe at very cheap rates. Further, if you are calling people also using these services, the call is free.
Now might be the time to invest in noise-cancelling headphones in order to drown out sounds like barking dogs or jack-hammering workers outside your workspace windows. Ask your employer to work with your schedules if you do not have childcare – this might include working evenings or weekends so that you can find proper care for your children, be it a neighbor, family member, or other party.
While working from home allows for more concentration and focus, working from home can get lonely. Remember that it is important to reconnect with others, be it a lunch date over Zoom or an exercise class.
Though the WFH life definitely has its benefits – such as setting your own hours and cutting out the commute – it comes with a few drawbacks as well. When it’s happening in the midst of a global health emergency, it adds an extra layer of discomfort and uncertainty.
Here are two tips to help strike a healthy balance.
Some people have the misconception that working from a home base means that no work is actually happening at all. Therefore, it falls on employees to set their working hours, stick to them, and get work done during those hours. As previously mentioned, the home comes rife with distractions that can put well-meaning home workers behind on important projects. Additionally, typical interruptions in the nine-to-five (like accidents, power outages, or vendor calls) are also met with personal boundaries that need to be pushed. Something you need to set are boundaries. Close family members need to understand that just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can chat on the phone for an hour. Setting these limits can be especially tough with children in the home. But boundaries need to be put into place in order to ensure a successful work-from-home experience.
Smong the top ten reasons people want to work from home are efficiency and flexibility. Yet, flexibility can be too much of a good thing. When home becomes the office, it can be difficult to separate your personal life from your work life. Many home-based workers find themselves working more, not less, hours, logging into their computer on nights and weekends due to looming deadlines and other projects that are begging for their attention. Workers need to set boundaries for themselves – otherwise, they could burn out.
Are your employees working from home for the first time? Stefanini’s W@H suite offers solutions that support better communication, connection and efficiency.
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