In my interviews, I’ve been asking people and companies why they are going remote. Needless to say, people and companies have different reasons. I’d like to share with you some of the most common reasons I’ve heard for why we are making the decision to go virtual.
Why are people going remote?
Technology is making the traditional 9-to-5 schedule unnecessary. Mobile devices, centralized data, and all kinds of apps and software are helping us stay connected to each other, wherever we are. This ability has opened up new possibilities for work–life freedom.
In the past, when we spoke of work-life balance, we assumed that work and life shouldn’t overlap or blend. I’m increasingly seeing the conversation move towards work-life fusion, where the lines between work and life are blurred.
Some type of work is particularly well suited to being done virtually. Work done by knowledge workers are good examples: writers, graphic designers, developers, customer support, community managers, and accountants. In addition, some individuals are well suited to working virtually. Whether it’s because they introverted, or they are parents, or military spouses. Some folks thrive in a remote situation.
We love our freedom
In almost every interview and workshop I do, people mentioned that they valued the increase in freedom when they can work remotely. As you can imagine, freedom looks different from person to person. To some, freedom is the ability to take a walk or a nap during the day. Others want to spend more time with family. A few want to travel the world.
Even if you don’t mind working a standard 9-to-5 schedule, a number of people that I interviewed brought up the fact that not having to commute was a significant driver for working remotely (pun intended!). Commuting feels like a waste of time for most people. A painful commute can tarnish an otherwise great job.
It’s not just the freedom to work where we want that makes remote working so attractive to people. It’s also the choice to work with people we like and on projects we find interesting.
Being able to work online means that more people globally are exposed to great projects. When we remove the issue of geographic location, we open up more options for ourselves to work with people and on projects from around the globe.
Why are companies going remote?
In general, companies are going remote to reduce costs, to find talent that doesn’t exist locally, or as a way to retain or lure new talent.
The main reason the companies I interviewed were going remote was to lower costs. The cost of hiring people offshore can be significantly less than hiring local talent. The difference in salary between a programmer in San Francisco and one in Hanoi is vast.
Another way of lowering costs is by reducing or reusing real estate. Flexible work options can reduce the number of people that need to be in the office at the same time. Legacy buildings that can’t be sold can be turned into flexible workspaces.
More, better, and specialized people
When companies grow, it can be difficult to find enough people in the local area, especially if you want to hire people with specialized expertise.
Increasingly, companies are using flexible working arrangements to retain the people they already have and become more attractive to a wider audience. Some companies claim that hiring globally gives them a competitive advantage.
Whether you plan to allow for flexible work options at your company or not, it’s good to have the processes in place that allow being able to work outside the office just in case. If the weather is bad or if there’s a transportation strike, your workforce isn’t affected because your employees can keep going.
Remote working is inevitable
So why are we going remote? People want freedom and companies want to be profitable. Being able to work from anywhere allows people to find and work on the projects they are most passionate about. This can end up being a key differentiator for businesses too. People can work on the things they love, and businesses can hire people who love what they do versus people who are just doing their jobs.
If you haven’t thought about remote collaboration options in a while, you might be surprised by what’s happening—and what’s possible! I encourage you to do some more exploring. The Work Together Anywhere Workshop is a great place to start. We’ve come a long way, and it’s only getting better from here.