Working remotely is still a new concept to many people. I don’t mean working from home on Friday when nobody care to commute. Working remotely means working from anywhere in the world full time. Obviously, the person who benefits the most is the employee. Whether he chooses to travel the world or stay with his family, they are all possible. But what’s in it for the employer? A good arrangement benefits all party involved.
How Working Remotely helps Employer
1. Increased productivity
After working remotely for four weeks in California, I found that I finish tasks faster than working in an office. This is because I know that no one in the office can see me “working.” My only evidence of work is the result. For the kind of work I do (software development), we use task management system that measures how much work gets done within each period of time. I have to show progress in weekly meetings. I can’t show my employer how hard I work on a given task by just showing up in the office.
I often work from a hotel room when working remotely. There is no distraction. An office, to the contrary, can be very distracting, especially for the cubicle dwellers like me. I can hear everything going on in the area. Coworkers often come to ask questions. And this is fine. It would, however, be much better if they email me and allow me the freedom to respond when I am not in a middle of a thought process. When working in a hotel room, I no longer have any coworker (or anything else) to blame for distraction. Again, I have to focus on the result.
Since I was traveling, I usually go explore places to unwind myself from work. This allows me to better focus when going back to work again.
2. Lowered attrition rate
“A business is a collection of people,” Richard Branson said. Happy employees make happy customers. Employees should be happy if a business is to succeed. The longer people stay in a company, the more valuable their work specific experience become. I was very happy to be able to work and explore California’s beautiful landscape together.
Even when I want to find a new job, I do not have many options. There are not many employers who would allow this even when they can allow it.
3. Less office expense
Top technology companies in California spends a lot of money on office spaces to make their employees happy. Theses offices have healthy restaurants, gyms, and game rooms. Still, all these things cannot beat remote offices. Not everyone will enjoy all the nice accommodations an office has. I’d rather run along a beach than on a treadmill. I’d rather eat local foods than the foods from restaurants’ near my office. All these nice things are free if employers let their people work remotely. The more people work remotely, the less office space an employer needs to provide.
4. More resilience
Houston was flooding recently as I write this. Imagine a small company with just an office in Houston. The entire team would not be able to work. Even if they should try to work remotely temporarily, they would not be as effective as a distributed (remote) team. A distributed team can continue to work normally since it is not likely that everyone was in Houston. Now, what if something worse like earthquake or tsunami happens? Recent Kumamoto earthquake in Japan forced several offices to close.
5. Better talent
Employers can hire the best remote employees from around the world. This allows more competition from larger applicant pool and leads to hiring better people. A remote tech startup does not have to be in San Francisco to compete for the best developers. Automattic, the team behind WordPress, is completely distributed around the world. All their numbers indicate that they are doing very well. About 25% of websites on the internet use WordPress.
How Working Remotely helps Employee
6. Location independence
I like to travel and experience new things. With location independence, I don’t have to wait to pursue this dream. Life is too short and the world is too vast to only travel three weeks a year or after I’m 50. For others, location independence means they can take better care of their family.
7. More friend and opportunity
I have more time to spend visiting and staying with friends by working remotely. I also get to meet new people from traveling. Digital nomads are everywhere. From what I’ve seen so far, we are very cool and adventurous people. (I’m not referring to myself.) Many nomads are entrepreneurs. Becoming an entrepreneur is easy when there are other entrepreneurs around.
8. More money
Digital nomads take advantage of currency exchange rate and geo-arbitrage. We earn in US Dollar and spend in Thai Baht. We can live comfortably for less than $1500/month in Bangkok. Or go to heaven early for just $1000/month in Phuket’s tropical islands. Did I mention a meal in Thailand cost just $3?
How Working Remotely helps Everyone Else
9. Reduced pollution
By working remotely, we will have fewer cars on highways every morning and evening. There will be less emission and traffic. Imagine if every tech company in California switch to remote.
There are also several disadvantages of working remotely for everyone. Namely, there are more risks for both employer and employee. But these risks can be mitigated easily when we plan ahead. As I get more experience from working remotely, I will write about this.
Needless to say, not everyone can work remotely now. I think this is the way of the future. As the internet gets faster and flight gets cheaper, digital nomads will be the new normal. (After that, working from space or the moon would be the new thing.)
Now that you know working remotely does not have to mean slacking off. Let’s convince employers to allow remote work! What do you like about working remotely?
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