As of March 11th 2020, the World Health Organization has officially declared coronavirus COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. With all of the warnings and safeguards being spread by the media telling us to wash our hands and work from home, will this cause a shift in the corporate landscape? Will companies be required to adopt more modern workflows and go remote? If so, this is the perfect time to explore the benefits of working remotely and the digital nomad lifestyle, made popular by startups.
Integrating technology into our lives has advanced our surroundings and helped companies and our society as whole, reach new heights. Although this transition was scary, if technology has taught us anything, it’s to maintain an open mind to new lifestyles, ideas and concepts. Startups have become increasingly lucrative places to work because of their ability to adapt and modernize corporate culture. Remaining progressive keeps them unique and creates a competitive advantage above larger, well established corporations.
This doesn’t mean that large corporations are doomed - adopting startup culture has become a priority for many of these giants in order to stay modern. From Air Canada to IBM, they’ve all been open to change and modernization. One major change for companies has been giving their employees the option to work remotely. Nowadays, some of the most successful companies are being run by remote teams known as ‘digital nomads’. Personally, this has allowed many of our team members at Speer to travel around the world while still accommodating for deadlines.
Working remotely has changed how employees view their work. Traditionally our home life and work life were kept separate, but by integrating the two you have the freedom to make your own schedule and more hours in the day to allocate to work or other important tasks.
In study by FlexJobs, they discovered that there is growing interest in leading a digital nomad lifestyle. In the last 5 years, remote work has increased by 44% in the US. 76% of employees on a FlexJobs survey said they would work remotely 100% of the time. 72% wanted a flexible schedule. Industry leaders and top talent want flexibility and choice. It’s clear that the demand is there and failing to accommodate can push that talent away.
As a company, it can be intimidating to create flexible work environments since being able to observe your team and communicate with them instantly is ideal. However, you need to remember how productive someone can truly be within an 8 hour window. Hint - it’s very low.
Anyone starting a company with the intention of getting rich would have never in a million years considered starting an aerospace company like SpaceX, or an electric vehicle company like Tesla. Today, it just so happens that both companies are not only immensely profitable (Tesla currently surpassing Ford and General Motors in terms of value, and SpaceX securing billion-dollar contracts from NASA), but more importantly- solve some of the most important problems we face today.
The Study in 1914
Ford Motor Company took note of this pattern and in 1914 they doubled employee salaries and decreased their hours from 16 hours a day to 8 hours a day. Surprisingly, productivity had increased.
A study was also done by the Swedish government with nurses. They determined that an average person needs to take 15-20 minute breaks per hour of work, so they reduced their hours from eight to six hours per day. This increased profitability due to the spike in nurse productivity. Nurses had also displayed higher satisfaction at their work. Fast forward to today - this mentality is being integrated everywhere.
The concept of working from your home or any comfortable environment outputs better team performance and satisfaction. Now, this won’t always mean everyone’s productive but integrating the right project management techniques can weed these individuals out.
How To Go Remote
The first step is integrating flexible work schedules. Having a manager judge their team’s level of productivity by how present they are at work isn’t necessarily accurate. Start by allowing your employees to work from home a few times per month and then as you feel comfortable, increase the amount of work from home days for your team. Integrating flexible schedules improves employee satisfaction. It becomes less of a ‘job’ in their eyes and more of an ‘action item’ on a to do list for the day.
Benefit For Companies
Now this does have benefits for companies too. Less in office teams require less real estate which saves on costs, especially in growing downtown cores like Toronto or San Francisco. Instead you can invest in hiring better talent, infrastructure or save it for a rainy day.
Your team will save money on travel and food. Your team will also appreciate you and your guidance more when they need it and focus on being as productive as they can to meet those deadlines. The average person only truly works 3 hours out of the 8 hours in an office anyways.
Remote work allows you to hire internationally as well so you can save money or acquire talent that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible to you. The advantages here are unmatched to in office work.
At the end of the day, you won’t need to be asking a manager to leave early to go to a doctors appointment or grab coffee with a friend and you won’t feel chained to your desk for 8 hours a day. This creates a level of work life balance that wasn’t possible in the 9-5 workflow. In an age where we spend the majority of our lives at work, it’s time to blend the two and focus on living.