In this article, as part of our collaboration with Day Translations, we talk about remote working and why it’s here to stay.
Is the office still a “thing”? For some companies, having an office building is still considered to be valuable and, most importantly, having staff members all working in the same place. However, since 2020 remote working has become the default mode of working for many organisations.
Analysts and business commentators tend to agree that the traditional office is dead: from Forbes to McKinsey, analysts agree on a common theme, which is that old modes of working are no longer fit for purpose and that a shift towards remote working is permanent.
Fast Company reported that in 2020 within only two months from February to April remote working went from approximately 3% to more than 40%.
The shift to remote work also meant that people don’t have to choose to live in expensive, highly populated and congested cities because of their office location. This has opened up more possibilities for working from different countries with no impact on productivity. This is great news for people who have experience of working remotely, such as digital nomads.
Industries Where Remote Working Is Dominant
McKinsey used different types of modelling and data from across the globe to analyse which industries are most suited to remote working. Their analysis took into consideration 800 jobs and their related activities, paying particular attention to those tasks that don’t require an employee to be physically present in the office.
Among the business activities that can successfully be done remotely, the key ones are:
- online seminars
- business coaching and consulting
- graphic design
- client liaison and guidance
- processing and analysing data.
McKinsey identified that key industry sectors for remote working are:
- professional and business services
- telecommunications and information technology.
Of these, finance and insurance represent the sectors with the most potential with the least amount of lost productivity from not being physically in the office.
This study also mentions that generally productivity since 2020 has increased thanks to remote working, with surveyed employees reporting working more productively when they are away from the office.
While this McKinsey study focuses on both jobs that can be done remotely and those that cannot, it also includes a third option, a hybrid model, in which part of the week is spent in the office and part away from the office, depending on industry sectors.
Why Remote Working Is Here To Stay
For most businesses, labour and workspace costs are the highest expenses. By reducing the square footage for office space and allowing most of the workforce to work remotely, companies can make impressive savings. For example, Fast Company quotes a study from Global Workplace Analytics reporting that US employers moving to a remote working model could save $500 billions per year from reduced real estate expenses, improved productivity and reduced employee absenteeism.
Remote employees also tend to have a higher job satisfaction and are more likely to stay with the same employer instead of seeking alternative employment, often mentioning an improvement in work-life balance as a result of working from home or working away from the office. For example, a survey from FlexJobs reported that 65% of respondents said they preferred to work remotely and
95% said they have been more productive or at least as productive working from home rather than in the office.
Remote working has the potential to attract the best employees from diverse backgrounds: these employees or contractors are more likely to be motivated as it takes discipline to work with minimal supervision. Telecommuting also allows to dedicate more time to well-being, which has a positive impact on overall productivity and reduces sick leave.
Forbes estimates that by 2025 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least a few days each month, with Twitter leading the way by allowing employees to be remote permanently if they wish to.
An advantage of working remotely is that individual performance is more linked to results rather than hours worked, which is a positive shift away from an old-fashioned mentality of working long hours hoping to impress employers.
Predictions for Remote Working
Analyst companies have shared their predictions for remote working:
- Gartner reported that by 2023 remote workers will increase from 27% (2019 figure) to 47%;
- PwC predicts that remote collaboration is the future of work after surveying hundreds of CEOs.
Various sources quote predictions of between 40% and 75% of the workforce will work remotely by 2025.
For companies like IBM, remote working has been an option for decades: 40% of their workforce has been working from home by 2009 (RTE). The key to successful remote working is for employers to offer support and communicate regularly with staff.