As the remote workforce continues to expand across borders, the common narrative is that remote workers are isolated, disengaged, and cut off from their company's culture.

However, studies suggest this narrative is outdated and the assumptions above are far from the truth. The bigger truth? People no longer want to deal with the frustrations of commuting to and from work. One new study by Airtasker shows that 1 in 4 employees has quit a job because of a long commute.

Job seekers now seek to avoid these inconveniences as well as to achieve better work-life balance. Case in point, a 2019 FlexJobs survey released last month found that 81 percent of Millennials look for work-life balance when evaluating potential jobs, over salary (79 percent) and health insurance (41 percent). In fact, telecommuting 100 percent of the time (74 percent) was the top choice of flexible work arrangements for Millennials.

Bill Gates knew this ahead of time

Bill Gates understood this several years before the philosophy of flexible work arrangements entered the business lexicon and became a "thing." Gates stated: 

The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.

Gates's prophecy has even materialized in a celebrated future-of-work movement. Today happens to be National Flex Day, which began in 2013 as an effort to inspire professionals and employers alike to unite behind the need for work flexibility, bring awareness to the benefits, and move the issue forward on a national scale. 

While Fortune 500 corporations like Cisco, Salesforce, American Express, and Hilton continue to pave the way by actively hiring remote workers, I wanted to finish this piece by highlighting some of the up-and-comers -- the small to medium-size firms in the ballpark of 50 to 500 employees transforming the workforce through flexible work. 

Aha!

One of the United States' fastest-growing computer software companies, Aha! has built its business by cultivating honest relationships with value, and the company's culture is all about "putting customer and employee joy first." To ensure sustainable happiness among its staff, the company grants its associates the freedom to work from anywhere in the country, as well as from a few international locations. 

Articulate

An award-winning e-learning software company based in New York City, Articulate was founded on the principle of working remotely. The company refuses "to believe that geography should trump talent" and employs a diverse, distributed workforce. Articulate insists that people perform best when given the freedom to work autonomously, which enables them to take ownership of their work and boosts their productivity. 

SmartBug Media

SmartBug Media, a globally recognized marketing agency, fosters a work experience that promotes freedom, flexibility, and professional and personal growth. Although much of the team is distributed across the United States, co-workers engage in video calls and "quippy GIFs in the company chat." In addition, SmartBug Media hosts Smartbugapalooza, a multi-day affair that brings associates together annually for training and team-building activities. 

Clevertech

A bespoke software solutions company, Clevertech cultivates a flexible environment that enables associates to work where and when they want, to be judged on results rather than time, and to join a strong international community of various cultures and backgrounds. Although team members are distributed across the world, Clevertech develops connections by sending out swag and hosting book clubs, among other efforts. 

Greenback Expat Tax Services

Greenback Expat Tax Services employs a distributed team of remote workers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand, and Indonesia. The company insists that working remotely enables it to handpick the most experienced professionals, and the company believes "hard work doesn't need to happen in a corporate office." 

Vortala

On a mission to become the world's leading website and digital marketing service for health care professionals, the team at Vortala is distributed across North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. The company promotes a remote-first model of "fantastic" work-life balance and associates work from home offices anywhere in the world during flexible, family-friendly hours. 

DataStax

DataStax is a software company connected around the world through global offices and a distributed, remote workforce. DataStax fosters a close-knit culture of support and flexibility with location-dependent perks like fun foosball competitions, fitness clubs, catered lunches, employee referral bonuses, and comprehensive benefit programs. Leadership at DataStax strives to keep its associates physically, emotionally, financially, and socially healthy.