Some people love it, while others prefer the structure of an office, but one thing is clear: remote working is gaining steam and there’s nothing holding it back. In fact, the presence of new technologies has allowed remote working to soar to unanticipated levels.
The State of Remote Working
According to a report released this summer by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of telecommuters (or remote workers) in the workforce has increased 115 percent over the past decade. This equates to 3.9 million workers, or approximately 3 percent of the entire U.S. workforce.
“Remote working has become more prevalent, specifically in the mortgage and real estate industry, human resources and recruiting, and accounting and finance. Each industry saw remote job listings grow more than 20% last year,” Kathryn Vasel writes for CNN Money. “Employers in the Northeast, particularly in New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, are the most likely to offer flexible workplace options, the report found.”
Family demographics are one factor in the shift. Middle-class families are going from having one parent working a full-time job and another staying at home with kids, to two working parents (with one or both telecommuting from home).
You can also point to changing attitudes of employers as a factor in the rise of remote working. More employers are comfortable offering remote working job positions to new hires and many are doing it in the upper levels of their companies. Whereas work-from-home positions once had a stigma of being low-level, many of today’s most successful professionals don’t work in a traditional office. In fact, the report shows that the average yearly income for telecommuters is $4,000 more than non-telecommuters.
Technology Leading the Way
While family demographics and changing employer attitudes certainly have a role in the rise of remote working, it would be foolish to attribute all of this growth to these factors. Technology is arguably the most integral factor in this shift.
Historically, the biggest strike against the feasibility of remote working has been the lack of options. Employers want accountability and connectivity, while employees need the ability to actually perform at the same level outside of the office as they can on company property. Over the past decade, technology has addressed these needs in very practical ways. Here are just a few of the advances making remote work feasible and scalable:
- Remote IT support. For many companies, remote working was held back because they feared the lack of IT control. Today, software like Dameware Remote Support allow for internet proxy connections that enable remote support of employee devices. This eliminates the traditionally cumbersome process of dealing with remote IT support.
- Enhanced collaboration tools. Remote communication is also made much easier with the help of advanced collaboration tools. Slack is one of the top tools. It allows teams to streamline workflows regardless of where people are located.
- Location and time tracking. One of the biggest issues employers struggle with is trusting employees to get their work done. With tools like Time Doctor, this is no longer an issue. With features like time tracking, screen monitoring, and app usage monitoring, accountability is no longer optional.
This is just a small sample and three practical examples of what sort of technology exists on the market. There are hundreds of other tools in dozens of other categories that are simultaneously being leveraged by companies and their employees to make remote working practical.
Looking Towards the Future
It makes a huge difference when you have the right technology in place to smooth over what have traditionally been points of friction. As we continue to move forward, look for additional technology to make remote working even more feasible, scalable, and popular.