We've written a lot about remote working. Mainly because it’s one of the more recent irreversible trends in business. Over the next ten years more teams are going to work away from the office, and the top talent is going to want to work remotely and flexibly.
And yet people still have doubts. They might say, “I don’t know. Maybe I’m a traditionalist. Not having your staff in the office just doesn’t seem right…” Based on our experience as a 100% remote team and research we've done on two businesses that are fast becoming household names – let's dispel five common misconceptions about remote working.
1. Remote workers don’t do enough work – or they do too much
It’s the obvious objection: if someone’s at home they’re not going to do enough work. ‘Wasn’t Game of Thrones on last night? I’ll check that Tyrion survived before I make the next phone call…’ Or the opposite happens: they don’t know when to switch off, they’re working all the time – and eventually it catches up with them. They’re exhausted, their work inevitably suffers… If that’s happening, it will show up very quickly with someone who’s working remotely, because it will be reflected in their results. But in our experience, it doesn’t happen: we value a work/life balance at Outsite and companies that do as well tend to get better results from their remote employees.
2. Remote Work leads to a decrease in productivity
As implied above, remote companies tend to be in the results business, not the hours business. They also tend to be in the business of recruiting the very best people. Most people reading this blog have used Dropbox. And many of you will have come across Hubspot. Both these business have been hugely successful and they’ve both built their success on remote working – whether it’s with designers, coders, writers, artists or even the company accountant. Here’s Dave Nevogt, one of the co-founders of Hubspot:Hubspot is 100% remote. We’ve 25 employees spread across nine countries in who knows how many time zones. There’s no ‘corner office’ at Hubspot HQ: in fact, there isn’t a Hubspot HQ at all, unless you count our Slack Channel.
Our experience at Outsite and the experience of far bigger companies than ours emphatically shows that remote working does not lead to a drop in productivity. It allows you to hire the very best people, which can only boost productivity.
3. Meetings are ineffective
In our experience meetings that are held on the phone, or via Skype or GoToMeeting are more focused and more productive than meetings held in the office. The remote nature of the conversation removes the need for five minutes ‘essential’ small talk. And when the remote worker does come into the office for a meeting, everyone knows they’ve made a specific effort to be there: that meeting definitely doesn’t end with anything ‘kicked into the long grass’ until the next meeting.
4. Communication Suffers
As above, our experience is that business communication is more direct with remote companies. There are now so many forms of communication that you need to be specific about what is used for work in order to keep things organized. Inevitably, there will be social interaction between the members of your team (wherever they are), but if you’ve designated say, e-mail and Slack for business, that’s explicitly what they’re for. If there is social interaction, it can stay on WhatsApp or Facebook.
5. Company culture is eroded by people working remotely
As company retreat organizers, company culture has always been high on our list at Outsite and always will be. Has company culture been eroded by having our team working remotely? Not in the slightest.
So there you are: five myths about remote working hopefully laid to rest. Remote working is emphatically helping to build some of the most successful companies in the world. And remote workers are joining companies in droves as productive, happy and healthy members of the team.