This phrase could be one of the most annoying and overused phrases of the COVID-19 era but is there any truth behind the idea that remote working is the future of work?
Let's start at the beginning, the modern office arises from the industrial revolution era when workers had to travel into cities to take advantage of the powered machinery in factories. The workers would, more often than not, be organised into rows and so would the office workers that would manage the factories.
200 years later the office has barely changed.
The internet brought untold opportunities to most aspects of business but yet the office didn't develop at the same rate. The primary reasons being fear of change and not being able to manage/monitor employees. "If my employees aren't in the office, how will I know if they are working". This is a reasonable concern, and alleviating this is not plausible for every industry or business.
However, with VPNs, remote desktop solutions, cloud-based project management tools & communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, etc, the vast majority of businesses can take advantage of the digital world whilst still being kept abreast of employee output.
The standard hours that inspired the Dolly Parton classic stemmed from the industrial revolution where the clocking in and out of factory workers was the best way for the factory to run. With more companies now having multiple locations and working in teams that span the globe, the idea that everyone should work set hours is also being challenged.
We are not strictly objective on this matter but we do have a perspective from both sides and want to share our experience.
By the end of 2017, we had offices in Central London and everyone commuted into the office every day. Some spending more than 3 hours commuting every day. We had a few different offices over the years, but in our last office, we were paying £800pcm per desk. That is nearly £10k per person per year, which can really add up.
When we factored in the other office costs and the personal commuting costs that each employee had to spend, we thought there must be a better way.
In Jan 2018, we decided to make a huge change to our business and move to a remote working model. We had a 6 month trial period where we really focussed on making sure every process and function of the business worked. After 6 months of lower cost, better mental health and generally happier people, we made the move permanent which enabled us the freedom to spend more time with young families and move out of London if desired.
Full remote working isn't for everyone. This might seem an odd thing to say considering the previous paragraph but the remote working "revolution" doesn't have to be binary. We still meet in London (before COVID-19) every 2 weeks and spend time meeting with clients in London and other cities but finding the right solution for each business is the key.
Our work tends to be fairly measurable in terms of its output, so at the end of each day, everyone can send what they have done that day. This is not always applicable and why it is another important aspect to consider as not all jobs/industries work in the same way.
In our experience, remote working has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. It's not easy at the beginning, but the rewards are life-changing.