I was recently interviewing a software developer, let’s call him John. John was struggling to balance his work and personal life. He had to move to another city because his company moved the office. John also had a long commute to the office, which left him exhausted and with little time for his hobbies and family. At some point, he decided to explore remote work opportunities and was fortunate enough to find a fully remote position in our team. With the flexibility of remote work, John was able to create a schedule that suited his productivity and personal needs.
He no longer had to spend hours commuting, allowing him to start and finish his workday earlier. This schedule change gave him more time to spend with his wife and son and pursue his hobby, playing football, leading to a much better work-life balance.
Remote work allowed John to access employment opportunities that he may not have been able to access otherwise. He lived in a small town with limited job prospects, but with remote work, he could work for our company in a different country without any problems. This provided him with a fulfilling career and contributed to our company’s growth, as we can hire talented individuals like him from diverse locations.
The Current Landscape
The pandemic has ended, and as a result, big corporations want everyone back in the office, as if no one saw the benefits of working from home. Remote work is becoming an exotic option rather than a mainstream approach yet again. Here are some recent examples:
- Amazon. In February 2023, Amazon announced that it would require some staff to return to the office in a memo from CEO Andy Jassy
- Apple. In August 2023, Apple announced that employees must return to the office at least three days a week. However, employees fought back and issued a petition shortly after the announcement, arguing that staffers can do “exceptional work” from home.
- Goldman Sachs: In March 2023, CEO David Solomon told Fortune that the company asked employees to return five days a week to the office. In October, he told CNBC that about 65% of staffers had returned to the office.
- Meta: In June 2023, Meta announced a change of policy that would require all office-based workers to return to their respective offices for at least three days a week, effective September 5. This came two months after the social media company stopped advertising “remote” or “out of the office” options on job listings and encouraged workers to return to the office.
- BlackRock: In July 2023, BlackRock issued a return-to-office mandate. The firm follows companies like Tesla and Google in calling workers back.
There’s a lot of debate about remote work lately, and it feels like it’s employees versus management now. Management doesn’t like remote work, and I partly understand why. There’s some special connection between people working in the same room that gets lost when the whole team is working from home all the time. But remote work is here to stay.
Remote Vs Office Work
Managers must trust employees to complete tasks without constant supervision when working remotely. The same is true in the office, though — there’s no guarantee an employee is working just because they’re present.
Collaboration and accountability tools like time and task trackers can build trust when working remotely. Besides, it would help if you implemented these tools when working in the office anyway.
There’s a security aspect to remote work — you don’t control what devices and networks people use like you do in the office setting. However, if employees use company devices and VPNs, there are a few security differences from the office.
In-person interactions do build rapport between team members. But constant unstructured collaboration has downsides too — like distraction and too many meetings. Constant interruptions and collaboration can reduce overall productivity.
Open office layouts make it hard to do deep, focused work, even with headphones. Remote work enables more solo concentration time for roles like software engineering.
Finally, some employees admittedly need more discipline to work independently. But those same people are often distractible and inefficient in the office too.
The Remote Difference
The real difference with remote is overcoming the psychological shift it requires. Managers may feel less confident about work being completed since they don’t see employees in person.
Adapting management practices, and most importantly, the mindset, is crucial to making remote work work. With empathy, flexibility, and focusing on results rather than hours logged, the benefits make remote worthwhile.
These benefits include better work-life balance, no commute, and access to talent everywhere. Tools for accountability and security make remote work quite feasible today.
Many find remote work improves their productivity, health, and happiness. Me and my team are certainly among those people. With intentional effort, the remote can unlock immense advantages.
Originally published on Medium.com