Unlocking the benefits of remote work

LAURA CHAMBERS • 11 Mar 2024

- The rise of remote work
- Benefits of working remotely
- Challenges of remote work
- Hiring strategies
- Takeaway points for success

The rise of remote work

Since the start of the pandemic, remote work has become increasingly prevalent. According to a study by the BBC, it started much earlier though - the number of people working remotely increased by 74% between 2008 and 2018. Of course, when 2020 came around, businesses had to adapt due to the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, at the peak, remote working increased substantially with 38% working from home exclusively (an increase from 5% in 2019) according to UK Parliament.

Technology advancements and the shift towards digitalisation have made it far easier for employees to work from anywhere in the world. It has revolutionised the way businesses operate and has opened up new opportunities for both employers and employees.

A better work-life balance is often touted as one of the main reasons for the rise of remote work. Many employees are looking for the freedom to work from their preferred location, whether it's from the comfort of their own homes, co-working spaces or even while traveling. Remote work has allowed individuals to have greater control over their schedules and eliminated the need for long, expensive and stressful commutes.

Benefits of working remotely

For employees, the benefits are obvious. It provides a greater flexibility and autonomy. They have the freedom to choose their working environment, potentially leading to increased creativity and job satisfaction.

From an employer's perspective, remote work opens up opportunities to a global talent pool. Companies embracing remote working can remove limitations to hiring employees who are located in the same locality - especially useful for organisations who need to hire for niche roles with a finite pool of talent to choose from. It can also help increase diversity and the potential for innovation amongst the workforce. For example, including talent from working class backgrounds who may not live near the big cities, or people with caring responsibilities where a hybrid working environment is beneficial.

Remote working

The 2024 Candidate Insights report found an example of a volume recruiter involved in front line healthcare found that full time job adverts resulted in zero applicants. Advertising it again as a part-time / flexible hours job, it quickly saw 100 applications. Download the full report below.

According to some statistics, remote workers can also be more productive. Research by Owl Labs found 83% of remote employees feel they operate at the same, if not higher, productivity level than they did working in the office. Employees say there are fewer distractions. Managing remote workers well can also reduce employee turnover rates too.

Challenges of remote work

While remote work has many advantages, it also presents its challenges. One of them being communication and collaboration. Without face-to-face interactions, building relationships and maintaining effective communication within a remote team can be difficult. However, with good management, communication tools and regular virtual meetings, these challenges can be overcome.

Another challenge is the potential for work-life imbalance. When working remotely, the temptation is to work longer hours and employees can fnd it difficult to disconnect from work. It is important for remote workers to establish clear boundaries to avoid burnout.

It requires self-discipline and strong time management skills too. Without a structured office environment, it's easy to get distracted and procrastinate. Remote workers need to be proactive in managing their time and staying focused on their tasks.

Remote working stress

Hybrid working: finding the balance

Hybrid working is something that many organisations have adopted - a CIPD report found that 78% of organisations now allow it in either a formal or informal capacity. Also known as a combination of remote and office-based work, hybrid working is gaining popularity as companies strive to find the right balance. 

The benefits of hybrid working

It allows for face-to-face collaboration and relationship building while still providing the flexibility and autonomy of remote work, particularly beneficial for roles that require a combination of individual work and team collaboration.

How does this affect hiring strategies?

Remote work has had a significant impact on hiring strategies in the UK. Employers now have the opportunity to attract top talent from anywhere in the country (or even globally). It's led to a shift in the way jobs are structured, with many companies explicitly stating that remote work (or hybrid work) is an option. Check your job adverts and make sure they state this clearly - most applicant tracking systems should allow job adverts to be posted with this clearly stated.

Hiring remote workers

Hybrid and remote work has also necessitated changes in the interview, pre-boarding and onboarding processes. Interviews can be conducted virtually, via a Video Interview tool or Microsoft Teams, allowing for greater flexibility and efficiency for both candidates and employers. Pre-boarding and onboarding processes have also had to adapt to ensure that remote and hybrid employees are compliant to work and for them to receive necessary training and support for maximum success.

Employers are also realising the need to shift focus towards outcome-based evaluation rather than solely relying on traditional measures of productivity. In a remote/hybrid work setting, it becomes crucial to assess employees based on the results they deliver rather than the hours they clock in. This results-driven culture also allows employees the flexibility to work in a way that maximises their productivity and creativity.

Takeaway points for remote and hybrid work success

1. Prioritise work-life balance: Teach employees to set boundaries and establish a routine to maintain a healthy work-life balance while working from home. Encourage individuals to define clear start and end times for their workday, take regular screen breaks and create a dedicated workspace. Fo employers, set realistic expectations to help avoid burnout and work outside of business hours. Promoting the importance of self-care and personal time can lead to increased job satisfaction and overall happiness among remote and hybrid workers.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Use communication tools and schedule regular virtual meetings to stay connected with colleagues and maintain effective collaboration. Whether it's instant messaging platforms like Slack for quick updates, Microsoft Teams for face-to-face interactions or project management software like Asana for tracking progress - having the right tools in place will help streamline communication and enhance collaboration.

3. Develop strong time management skills: Employers are increasingly recognising the importance of time management skills in remote and hybrid work environments. Employees who effectively manage their time are more likely to stay productive, meet deadlines and deliver results. Employers and employees should set clear goals, create schedules and stay disciplined.

4. Increased breadth of talent pools: As we mentioned earlier, offering remote and hybrid jobs can increase diversity and the depth of available talent, so advertising the fact is crucial. Organisations should clearly state in job adverts and their careers website content that remote or hybrid work is an option, highlight the benefits of it and how of employees are supported when working remotely.

5. Stay connected and engaged: Foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging within remote and hybrid working teams. Virtual social activities such as team quizzes, online coffee breaks or virtual happy hours can help build connections and strengthen relationships among colleagues. 

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