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Remote Working: Yes or No?

Remote Working: Yes or No?
Naveen Narayanan - Global Head ? Talent Acquisition | May 2, 2013

An insight into trends and prevalent practices of Remote Working


Today, the connotation that “work” brings to mind is very different from what it used to be two decades ago. Nowadays, “going to work” means less about being at a particular location, filling timesheets, and more about getting things done irrespective of where you are. According to Forrester’s US Telecommuting Forecast[1], 34 million Americans work from home occasionally. This number is slated to reach a staggering 63 million by 2016, which will comprise 43% of the U.S workforce, a figure too huge and an opportunity too valuable for organizations to brush under the carpet.


Remote working, teleworking or telecommuting encompasses a variety of work arrangements in which work traditionally conducted in a physical office space is instead performed at the employee’s home or some other off-site location.


From the perspective of Talent Acquisition, remote working opens up the treasure trove of candidates from across the world. Organizations that encourage such practices enjoy enhanced employee productivity for reduced infrastructure costs. Flexible working arrangement is a key tenet for many modern organizations who want to be recognized for its outcome. Also, flexibility boosts employee job satisfaction levels and hence retention.


There are a lot of myths surrounding this work arrangement which talk about reduction in speed and quality of work. It can also be debated if employees only deliver while they are in the office.  This calls for a fair performance review mechanism, which is just to employees who choose to work remotely for convenience. Organizations also need to ensure that remote working should not become the altar for innovation and dynamism.


Needless to say, the success of remote work also depends on the type of work that one does. A person who needs space and needs the creative juices to flow might put on some music, get on the couch and use the environment to his advantage. While on the other hand, an employee who is not able to manage his work load at office might have issues negotiating with the distractions at home. Hence, to make this model work well for everyone the expectation setting with the reporting managers is quintessential. In the present scenario, technology keeps all involved parties connected through a strong web of communiqué. However, the challenge for the organizations is to engage remote employees through effective communication: enabling them to give their feedback, understand what is expected, track schedules to closure and get the appreciation for the work they do. Along with this, managers need to have a clear, concise and hands off communication approach while ensuring that their actions are aligned with business goals.


Remote working is here to stay. But a pinch of salt rather than a forced policy on remote working will go a long way in employee morale and motivation for organisation’s future growth. Face to face interactions, sharing of ideas and enriching brainstorm sessions lead to birth of new ideas. Hence, a healthy mix of both office work and remote working is the best way to give the employees what they need the most -Freedom to do what they want!


Success will shortly follow thereafter and will benefit both: the organization as well as the employee. 


[1] US Telecommuting Forecast, 2009 To 2016.

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