This has been fuelled by the rise of tech: IM, audio and video platforms like Skype and Slack have made internal comms a breeze and are now second nature to the new breed of employees.
At the same time, the once laborious sharing of files via email has made way for the drag and release ease of Dropbox and Google Drive.
Augmented reality, previously the fever dream of sci-fi authors and Matrix fanatics, is set to revolutionise the office of tomorrow, meaning global employees that are continents apart can meet ‘face to face’.
These are the tools of the ‘remote working revolution’ – an employee movement that is gaining momentum globally.
In Britain, some six in ten employees have admitted that they’d like the option to work from home. To put that in context, only around a third of Brits are drawn to the idea of the ‘traditional’ work environment – being in the office every day of the week, that is.
Those stats match the wants of employees worldwide – according to the findings of our latest survey into employee branding, which polls roughly 200,000 respondents across the globe.
With such a strong response in favour of telecommuting – as our friends across the pond call it – why hasn’t there been a universal adoption of these practices? And how can employers implement this effectively with their workforce?
Well, first off, it’s important to build the remote working ethos into your employer brand.
Remote working shouldn’t be viewed as a gimmick or a throwaway incentive – it needs to match the goals of your company.
If you’re not sure that you have the resources, be that staffing or infrastructure, or are the kind of environment that would benefit from it – i.e. you operate in an industry that relies on manual labour – then it’s best to think twice about whether remote working is the right fit.
Then there’s the ‘issue’ of trust; for some employers, implementing remote working can be a headache simply because of the perception that it’s difficult to monitor activity at a distance.
Checking up on employee progress remotely shouldn’t be a problem with the tech now available to businesses, but that’s not really the issue.
To properly implement flexible working, businesses need to embrace it fully – that means building it into your hiring strategy.
If your recruitment process is stringent enough to suss out the smartest and hardest-working staff, then you should give those employees the autonomy to do their jobs effectively.
For new employees, gradually ease them into your remote working practices. Regular face-to-face meetings over the first few weeks or months should become less frequent as they soak in the ethos of the company.
Look forward to a new era
Yet far from this being the end of engagement with your employees, this should herald in a new era of active outreach.
Contact with employees should become more meaningful as you cut out the daily clutter of unproductive meetings. Condense your face time to high quality interactions with clear objectives.
Perhaps more importantly, allow your staff to develop office friendships by meeting in person to create stronger bonds within your company. Company retreats can be a good way of doing this outside of the office environment.
As companies both large and small look to retain and hire the best talent, they need to be attuned to what workers want around the world.
If businesses want to avoid being left behind, they need to take note of this appetite for working remotely and evolve with the consensus.