Recently our company had a mandatory work from home (WFH) week due to an office upgrade. What I found so interesting was the stark difference of opinions concerning working away from the office, or what is commonly referred to as remote work. I realized that people either loved it or hated it. Those that hated it had no experience with working remotely before and felt lost being unconnected and out of their routine. The majority of employees, especially the more senior, loved the time they saved by eliminating their dreaded commutes, and the comforts of working in their custom environment.
Personally, I love working from home because, in previous jobs, I was forced to figure out the tips and tricks on how to make it work. Workplace flexibility and remote work show an undeniably growing trend, but adoption requires adaptation to be successful. Here is why your team should adopt and how you should adapt to working in a new environment.
Remote work on the rise
Globally, 70% of people now work remotely at least once a week. Several surveys demonstrate that flexible working has become the "new normal" among employees. The ability to work outside of your company's HQ is now a key factor for many job seekers when evaluating new career opportunities. Over the last five years, remote work grew by 44% and by 91% in the last 10 years. This is a new expectation among employees, and if employers recognize this trend, their businesses can benefit.
Perks to being remote
As many of us who have constructed makeshift offices in our living rooms, we know all too well that when working remotely, the hours devoted to work can quickly extend far beyond daylight. 35% of all employees believe they are more productive when working outside of the office and 28% admit to accomplishing more when working remotely. In my opinion, part of this has to do with eliminating the dreaded commute and part revolves around how distracting the trend of the open office floor plan can be.
Some successful startups have figured out how to be fully remote giving their employees the opportunity to live or travel anywhere they wish. This not only saves one of the most insane line items in a startup's budget, rent, but it also encourages incredible diversity by allowing people to live and work where they want or need to be.
Think about a product team that is comprised of PMs, engineers, and designers from all over the country. Diversity in thought can be a struggle for startups that are formed a few miles from their university and who recruit fellow alums. Unless you are only building for people like yourselves, access to different opinions can be incredibly helpful in building superior products.
Some of the most successful companies adopting 100% remote work are Zapier, GitLab, InVision, and Automattic. Mary Meeker's Internet Trend Report this year noted that 5% of Americans now work 100% remote. This may still seem like a small number, but it has drastically increased in recent years due to the evolution of digital communication and collaboration technologies.
Tips on how to work from home
Build a routine
In my first experience working from home, I made some mistakes. I recall chatting with a friend who was a management consultant and remembers him saying, "one of the hardest things, when I work from home, is remembering to brush my teeth." At the time, I thought little of his comment other than he may need to work on his hygiene. Months later, while working from home, I was sitting on my couch entranced by a model I had built and I realized that it was 2 pm and I had not eaten, communicated with my team or even brushed my teeth. The lesson I learned very quickly, was in order to make WFH work, I needed to abide by a strict routine even if I was the only one that knew it.
Don't forget to reach out
Working from home can feel lonely and cause you to get a little stir crazy if you are not careful. When I initially talked with my younger colleagues about WFH, they told me they missed the social elements of the office and chatting with people all day. When you WFH, communication is even more important. Don't rely solely on email and Slack as communication can quickly become disjointed. Scheduling more frequent brief check-ins with your team and leveraging video chat can help everyone feel connected.
My favorite perk of WFH is not having to deal with a daily commute. As a runner, I don't typically have to remind myself to get outside, but for many, it is even more important. Obviously being sedate in one spot all day is not healthy for you. You need to move and get some sunlight. Even for those fellow exercise addicts, getting back outside midday to work from a coffee shop or from a co-working space can also help your sanity and get you a needed vitamin D dose.