Why Remote Workers are Not Going Away

Last week, IBM, one of the earliest pioneers of a remote worker culture is rolling their innovative policies on remote work back. Thousands of their workers have been asked to return to the office or find a new job. Considering the financial challenges IBM faces, this rollback is seen as a strategy to downsize their worker population.  Let’s take this opportunity to review some fresh statistical data about remote worker productivity, emerging trends, and what this might mean for your small business.

Remote workers and teams are taking over: we are in the era of digital nomadism. Anybody can work with anybody, anywhere in the world as long as there’s a fit. Whether you own a brick and mortar business looking to hire a front-end developer from another continent to maintain your web presence or you want to hire an account manager native to a neighbor city, remote teams are commonplaces. All signs point to the fact that remote employees not only feel more productive when they work remote and alone, but two thirds of managers notice their employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.  In one study, 86% of participants reported they work alone to achieve maximum productivity, and ⅔ of managers say they see an overall increase of productivity from remote workers.

Taking a broader view, virtual teams increasingly common in the EU and US, with over a third of workers frequently working remotely. The way workers have been working is changing too: more than half of all remote teams don’t work traditional 9-5 schedules.  Statistically, remote workers who work shorter hours seven days a week tend to report as very happy. 91% of workers in a recent study feel better and perform better outside the office. Overall, remote workers feel more productive, feel more valued, and appreciate their teammates more.  More experienced remote workers also (those who have worked for 3 or more years remotely) report to be significantly happier. That being said, 27% of remote workers say they have experienced a work-related problem because of remote-specific issues. What’s very clear is that freedom is the most important part of remote work, but that also means good connection and culture are also critical.

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