Guest article by Anastasia Stefanuk
More than ever, a flexible work arrangement continues to overshadow the monetary benefit attached to job positions.
While the 9-to-5 notion has been feasible for many years, it has been overshadowed and antiquated by remote working. This remote work popularity has largely been attributed to improved productivity and cost benefits that emanate from this recruitment model. As a result, companies have had to grapple with the profound dilemma of either hiring remote workers or sacrificing their competitive edge.
In this article, we are going to look at the evolution of remote work in the tech industry, key technology trends driving this phenomenon, and how you can leverage on this arrangement to augment your business prospects.
What is Remote Work?
It is a working arrangement that allows individuals to work outside the conventional office environment. This concept is purely based on the assumption that workers don’t need to physically appear in the brick and mortar office to execute their work. For instance, if a company wants to hire Python developers to build a mobile app, there is no point of coercing them to work from designated locations.
There is more…
The beauty of remote work lies in the fact that tech workers get to work in a manner that makes more sense to their personal and professional lives. On a typical day, a remote worker can head out for coffee in the morning, take a few hours flight, and finish off the day in a different city — all this time working.
The Evolution of Remote Work
Pre-industrial Revolution Period
Remote work didn’t come as a eureka moment of a trending #Beyourownboss hashtag. It’s a phenomenon that started way back even before the debut of the internet and downtown offices.
During the pre-industrial revolution period, people like blacksmiths and carpenters set up their working spaces within their residences.
When the industrial revolution came, the urge to automate saw the creation of machines to step up production. This eventually altered the working model as it’s the period that commuting started.
During this period, the thought or remote working seemed like a very remote utopia. Workspaces were segregated into cubicles, less tech-oriented, and collaboration was an alien concept as employees were encouraged to operate independently. Moreover, save for the landlines, email, and word processor, any other form of communication was in hard-copy form.
However, with the global economic expansion, there emerged large corporate offices, mobile phones, computers, the internet, and other technologies that paved the way for the work environment as we know it today.
Between the ’90s and 2000, remote work landscape saw major transformations, although salespeople were the sole road warriors working on their phones and laptops.
This was the case until 2014 when Richard Branson posted a jealousy-inducing tweet accompanied by his photo on top of a mountain.
“In an increasingly interconnected world, you can work from anywhere. This is my office today”.
True to his statement, it’s estimated that at least 70% of the global workforce works remotely at least once per week. Since remote workers tend to increase productivity and have higher engagement rates, they have become a big hit for hiring managers.
“People today really value workplace flexibility and remote work because it allows them to focus their energies on work and life as opposed to commuting or other complications due to geography.” — Ken Matos during the 2016 TRaD Works Forum.
Main benefits of remote work
There are multiple competitive and comparative advantages that come with hiring remote workers. They include:
Increased productivity is one of the explicit and most touted benefits of remote work. Given the flexible nature of this work arrangement, the remote employees are likely to be supplemental in their work given that their productivity is measured against that of their on-site peers.
According to a report by the State and Work Productivity, 65% of individuals working full-time hold the belief that working remotely can potentially increase their productivity.
Another salient benefit of remote tech employees is the ability to improve the company’s bottom line. For instance, a remote developer doesn’t need any office space or other supplementary equipment while working at home.
This translates into decreased overhead and real estate cost in terms of rent, office furniture, and utility bills. To paint a clear picture, Flexjobs estimates that remote IT jobs have the potential to save approximately more than $22,000 per person annually.
Renewed Passion and Commitment for the Job
In the world of mobile app development and custom software development, passion and commitment are must-have ingredients for any project to succeed. Coding engineers need to operate in an environment that inspires their creativity and filters all the distractions. Such an environment could mean working from home, seated on a bench in the park, or even in a cafe.
Such a customized environment arouses commitment towards work and the drive to surpass goals. This is not only a dream come true for any company — seeing their employees happy — but also important to the overall productivity.
How to Successfully Build a Remote Team
“With an enthusiastic team, you can achieve almost everything” — -Tahir Shah.
For your team to reach its maximum potential, you need to learn how to manage a remote team and empower them accordingly.
Here are 6 tips you need to build a successful distributed team
1) Hire The Right People
The first step in building a successful remote team begins at the recruitment level. Ensure you conduct live or Skype interviews Irrespective of the candidates’ location before hiring. This will help you gauge their capability as well as establish how effective they are in communication.
It’s also important to mention that self-motivation is a must-have attribute extremely when recruiting virtual employees. Remote tech jobs can be demanding at times and having people who need to be pushed around can be a setback. So, it’s important to establish whether the candidate you are about to hire can work independently before absorbing them onto your team.
2) Soak them in the Company’s Culture
One of the biggest mistake employers make when building an offshore software development team is the failure to induct the new employees to the company’s culture. This creates disharmony among the team members and loopholes within the system, eventually hurting the business.
As an employee, it’s important to realize that the company’s culture has to be founded on something more than a weekend get together. To make this possible, encourage teamwork and offer special perks to employees to boost their morale and productivity.
3) Empower the Team with the Necessary Tools
Technology advancement has transformed and enabled remote workers to operate in a more efficient fashion. Powerful laptops have antiquated the big desktop computers, cloud-based servers have rendered filing cabinets irrelevant, and collaboration and workflow software have obsoleted printers and fax machines.
If you are still confused about how to manage remote teams, here are some tools you can deploy. They will not only make the team efficient but also help you track the progress of your projects.
3.1 — Induction and Onboarding Tools
Employees are usually optimistic and excited about reporting for their first day at work. However, you don’t want a “warm welcome” to be an overwhelming number of new concepts and processes. Therefore, you need to have onboarding tools to help them seamlessly integrate and operate under consistent experience like the others. Take Helppier as an example. It allows you to create on-page walkthroughs for the new employees to follow as they learn their way up the ropes. This significantly reduces training time and cost.
The main advantages of these onboarding tools lie in the ability to learn at your own pace. For example, by implementing a contextual tool like Helppier on top of an internal web application, your remote team will be able to solve issues right when they need it, and follow instructions without having to stop what they are doing, or contacting managers.
Other great onboarding tools include BambooHR, KISFLOW, and Lessonly.
3.2 — Project Management Tools
In a remote work environment, collaboration is important if a project is to succeed. Team members need to keep tabs with each other to ensure no one is behind schedule.
A tool like Trello can be used to create a to-do list and assign developers their respective task even when they aren’t in the same location.
Another great project collaboration tool is Codingteam. This platform gives developers the freedom to develop and share code, which encourages collective code building.
3.3 — Communication Tools
Collaboration is impossible without communication. Digital whiteboards and video conferencing have reintroduced the teamwork feel and group brainstorming sessions. With tools like Skype, WebEx, and Slack, communication should be easier.
4) In-Person Team Activities are Important
Another great consideration in building a successful remote team is to make team members feel like important players in a larger team. This may call for managers to assemble everyone in a centralized location for company retreats to foster collaboration culture.
And given the fact that remote work feels more or less like an experiment, you can experiment with many ideas to foster teamwork.
5) Build Trust
The number of remote software developer jobs keeps on increasing. This makes the job market super-competitive especially with companies willing to pay through the nose just to have the best talent. With that in mind, an engineer worth their salt won’t hesitate to leave a company that is ruled with mistrust.
It’s important to mention that most developers are great professionals who genuinely want to deliver a good job, but not in an environment full of silly rules dictating everything including when to blink.
For this reason, creating an atmosphere where team members trust and feel comfortable with each other eliminates instances job abdications and arbitrary resignations.
6) Compliance Control
Metaphorically speaking, task completion in a remote team is life, but complying to the set standards is life insurance. On top of supervising your employees, ensure your standards are strictly adhered to by having a compliance system in place. More specifically, designate a manager to hold team members accountable to their goals.
Is Remote Work the Future?
The future of remote work is certainly bright. No longer is this working style treated as a “second-class” citizen in the recruitment world. And with the improving technology, powerful tools continue to emerge all which will make it easier for companies and employees to capitalize on improved productivity and efficiency that remote work offers.
On the opposite side of the scale, continued demand for tech services and the growth of mobile e-commerce will continue churning out more job opportunities for the professionals in the industry, meaning remote working isn’t going away anytime soon.
Written by Anastasia Stefanuk
Anastasia Stefanuk is a passionate writer and a marketing manager at Mobilunity. The company provides professional staffing services, so she is always aware of technology news and wants to share her experience to help tech startups and companies to be up-to-date.