There has been an ongoing debate about the efficacy of office-based operations versus remote work, especially in the global business context. Many C-suite leaders still harbour the perception that office-based operations are the key to productivity and success.
However, as we continue to navigate the changing landscapes of work in the wake of a global pandemic, it’s time we re-evaluate these traditional stances. Here’s a compelling argument for why a global business doesn’t need to be office-based to thrive, with examples illustrating the improvements in work practices brought by remote work.
1. Flexibility and Productivity
The flexibility offered by remote work can significantly enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction. Employees can tailor their work schedules around their peak productivity hours, and the saved commute time can be redirected towards work or personal development. A two-year Stanford study confirmed a productivity boost among remote workers equivalent to a full day’s work each week. This translates to the UK too with Department for Transport Statistics suggesting that the average workplace commute is almost an hour each way and two hours, 6 minutes by rail.
2. Improved Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration are essential in global businesses. Today’s digital tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Zoom and Asana are designed to enhance these aspects, enabling seamless, real-time communication and collaboration regardless of distance. GitLab’s use of an online handbook, accessible to all employees and updated in real-time, ensures information transparency and reduces communication breakdowns.
3. Cost Efficiency
Remote work can significantly reduce overhead expenses such as office rentals, utilities, and commuting allowances. A Global Workplace Analytics report found that businesses can save an average of $11,000 per year for each employee who works remotely half the time. This capital can be reallocated to business growth initiatives, employee development programs, or technology investments to further streamline remote work.
4. Unlimited Access to Global Talent
Building a remote workforce lets you hire from a global talent pool without geographic restrictions. This opens doors to a vast array of diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that can drive innovation and growth. Companies like GitLab and Buffer, fully remote since inception, are testament to this advantage, boasting talented teams from around the world and demonstrating the substantial success that a remote model can foster.
5. 24/7 Business Operations
Having a remote team dispersed across different time zones enables round-the-clock business operations, providing the ability to serve customers and respond to issues immediately. This model is leveraged by global businesses like IBM and Dell to offer continuous customer service and stay ahead in their respective markets.
6. Managing global teams
Managing a global team through remote working allows leaders to spend the time otherwise spent on commuting to and from a workplace to focusing attention on leading and supporting teams located in different time zones. For instance, a UK-based leader can utilise their morning commute time to instead, interact with EMEA-based teams, leveraging their PC to provide guidance and support during the early hours. Similarly, during their evening commute, they can connect with teams in the Americas. This allows for optimal utilisation of time and resources, ensuring seamless communication and support regardless of geographical locations.
7. Environmentally Friendly
The remote work model also contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions from daily commuting and lowering energy consumption related to maintaining office spaces. This aligns with the increasing global focus on sustainable business practices and net zero targets, reinforcing your commitment to corporate social responsibility.
8. Employee Wellness and Retention
Remote work offers a better work-life balance and reduces stress and burnout, positively impacting employee wellness and retention. Companies like Zapier, a fully remote company, report higher employee retention rates, attributing it to the increased autonomy and flexibility remote work offers.
Conclusion: Should you go remote?
In conclusion, remote working is not just a viable alternative to an office-based team, but it may actually be the superior option in today’s digital age. Remote work is not merely a short-term solution or trend, but rather a revolution in how global businesses operate. While it does require innovative management strategies and robust digital infrastructure, the benefits in terms of talent acquisition, productivity, cost efficiency, and sustainability are compelling. As C-suite leaders, let’s challenge the traditional notions of office-based work and embrace the potential of remote work in driving business success in today’s interconnected world.
So, is face to face contact dead?
While technology has undeniably revolutionised the way we communicate, there are certain scenarios where there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. Critical business negotiations, conflict resolution, and sensitive discussions often benefit from the nuance and subtlety that in-person encounters provide. The non-verbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, that accompany face-to-face interactions allow for a deeper understanding and engagement that is sometimes lost in virtual communication.
Moreover, face-to-face contact fosters stronger, more authentic relationships and trust among teams, partners, and clients. For instance, in the initial stages of a business partnership, or when integrating a new member into a team, in-person interaction can be invaluable in establishing rapport and cultural alignment. Thus, despite the rise of remote work, the significance of face-to-face contact in certain circumstances remains unchallenged.