Remote Work: An Integral Part of Today’s Business Landscape
Remote workers continue to flood the job market, which is a rather surprising twist for this vocational classification. That may be surprising to some, in part because remote positions seem commonplace today and in part due to many of those individuals being Millennials. It’s hard to believe there was once a time when taboos were attached to the “work from home” label.
Although that may seem somewhat inexplicable in the marketplace now, the classified job sections of papers and online publications were once inundated with, essentially, scams. Even today, you can look on any job site and likely stumble across those too-good-to-be-true remote job positions. Plenty of job seekers have either seen or unfortunately investigated these types of “get rich from home” schemes. So that once-dreaded taboo on remote work, work from home and no-commute opportunities was understandable, even justifiable.
Sometimes you have to look past the clutter, chaos, and noise to see the truth.
The Remote Worker
The simple truth is that remote workers have become an essential component of today’s evolving workforce. The irony here may be that remote work isn’t necessarily a new concept. One recent Forbes article talking about the future of remote work began this way:
“Remote work has been a small part of the employment landscape throughout history. Thanks to the internet, those opportunities are now abundant, spurring many new companies.”
There are freight brokers, insurance agents, IT professionals and countless other roles that have been staffed by remote workers for decades. Some of these positions are remote by job definition and others (the vast majority) have been created over time by shifting organizational structures and needs.
The driving force behind the growing popularity of working remotely can be traced to the multiple benefits that remote workers afford companies:
- Cost Effective Solutions: The considerable expense of insurance, office space overhead costs, and the necessity of supplies are all examples of expenses that companies can reduce or cut out entirely via remote workers. (American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options). The amount of worker’s compensation required can be reduced. The amount of space needed can be minimized and the supplies like computers, ink, paper and more can be all but eliminated. For a company with a few employees, these savings can aid growth, profit, and success. For a company employing large numbers, these savings can become quite significant (just ask American Express).
- Bigger, More Talented Employee Pool: More isn’t always better but in the case of businesses having job candidates to choose from – it is always better. Having more job candidates improves the odds of getting more qualified and more diverse people. Being able to interview candidates from entire regions, countries, or even the entire world means that your company has an opportunity to find the very best people available – anywhere.
- Better Business Model: We have discussed the advantage of having plenty of qualified candidates. We have also talked about the many and considerable financial benefits of employing remote workers. Another advantage of using remote workers is the ability to be more personal as a company. Businesses have done amazing work in recent years on humanizing and personalizing their companies and brands, and these businesses understand that there will never be a replacement for an actual human being. A friendly face, a real person working behind the scenes – this goes a long way to facilitate positive customer experiences. Many industries that have the structure to do so have employed that advantage, delivering their services via remote, human workers. What begins to take shape here is a new and better business model.
All of this is technology driven.
Where Technology Goes…
Business and industry follow technology and sometimes they are created by technology, too. That is the case with remote work – without technology, it simply doesn’t exist. Technology transformed advertising, changed how we communicate and redefined customer service…but it created a mobile workforce.
While technology continues to test and push the boundaries of all things mobile, data, communication and business – the mobile workforce continues right alongside it. For every mobile device offering more capability is a mobile worker who becomes that much better at their job. For every improvement in data handling is a mobile worker who becomes better equipped to perform their tasks.
The increasing number of companies using this avenue in their operations creates more roles for remote workers. The New York Times recently reported on the findings of a Gallup poll that stated:
“Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely…”
This increase in viable, real and important job positions along with the decrease of those over-advertised, questionable work from home jobs has created yet another opportunity – dare we say industry?
Serving the Remote Worker Industry
We started this discussion by commenting on the wave of remote workers entering the workforce as a result of more companies using these options. Did you wonder what impact this has had on business and technology? So have other companies, in particular, those in the tech market. Let’s consider the plethora of mobile apps available.
Apps are merely one example of how the technology world has been focusing on mobility, specifically on mobility in the business arena. It seems everything in technology is now centered around mobile business operations. How to get and retrieve data. How to communicate information. How to process legal, financial, and collaborative transactions. A Forbes article said this regarding technology and the remote workforce:
“Companies are making it easier for employees in any location to log in to critical systems, store files where their colleagues can access them, and quickly tap into any company information.”
It becomes rather apparent that this shift can only benefit and promote remote workers and the companies who employ them.
Technology is on the Move (Literally)
It isn’t surprising that one of the most heavily-impacted job fields is that of technology. From developers and administrators to Tier 1 technicians and marketers, finding an opportunity to work remotely is becoming easier than ever before. With the demands on businesses to cut costs and improve talent pools growing in tandem with employees’ increasing preferences for more flexible job options and work-life balance, the future of remote work looks incredibly promising.
One of our century’s technology leaders put the idea of remote work this way:
“If you’ve got development centers all over the world, you’ve got a sales force out with the customers, the fact that tools like Skype [and] digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance—that is a wonderful thing.”
– Bill Gates, Founder, Microsoft
Providing companies with a multitude of benefits while simultaneously offering employees attractive, flexible and optimal working environments is a wonderful thing, indeed.