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The Complete Guide to Understanding Remote Work

CultureInternational Hiring
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Among the lasting changes brought about by the pandemic was an increased demand for remote work. As lockdowns and stay-home orders proliferated, many companies embraced this working model to continue operations and stay afloat.

Years later, despite having the option to return to an office, remote work continues to gain traction. Many employees prefer to work remotely at least some of the time.

In the U.S., searches for remote jobs increased by 458% between 2020 and 2022. In the UK, searches for remote work shot up by 729%. There has been a similar increase in remote job searches in France, Italy, and Germany.

As your company grows and hires new employees, offering fully remote or hybrid positions can help you stand out from the competition. Learn more about what hybrid and fully remote mean and why remote jobs are worth offering.

What is a remote job?

The definition of a remote job is a position that allows a person to work outside of a traditional office setting. Remote employees perform their tasks and responsibilities at home, in a coffee shop, or at a library. Some remote employees work from an office, such as a co-working space.

Remote jobs typically offer more flexibility than in-office or on-site positions. Employees who work remotely often have more freedom regarding when they start their work days and when they stop working for the day.

Often, remote jobs are facilitated by communication tools, such as email, video conferencing, and chat software. While many types of jobs can be performed remotely, certain positions may require employees to be on-site at least some of the time.

Why are people interested in remote work?

 Remote work has existed for years now, but interest in it has dramatically increased over the past few years. One survey found that 87% of  U.S.-based employees would work remotely if they had the chance. The same survey found that 58% of U.S.-based employees work remotely at least part of the week.

Several factors contribute to the interest in remote work. One major reason people want to work remotely is that doing so provides more flexibility. The traditional nine-to-five workday doesn’t work for all employees.

Parents with children often need time to drop them off at school or pick them up at the end of the day. When parents work remotely, they can arrange their tasks to accommodate school drop-offs and pick-ups.

Working remotely eliminates the need to commute, which gives employees time back in their day. Instead of spending an hour in traffic each day, they can use that time to relax, do yoga, read, or practice a sport.

No commute and greater flexibility often mean more work-life balance for employees. Along those same lines, working remotely gives people more freedom in choosing where to live. Employees who want to live in more rural areas can accept remote jobs without a grueling commute into the city each day. Employees who work remotely can also adopt the digital nomad lifestyle, moving from place to place when they wish.

What does remote work mean?

Remote work has multiple meanings. For some employees, it means the option of working where and when they want. Other employees might be tied to a particular schedule, such as nine-to-five or 10-to-six, but can choose where they work.

Often, remote employees need certain tools to make remote work possible. A strong internet connection is typically a must-have as remote employees usually need to check in with their supervisors and co-workers throughout the day.

Collaboration tools, such as chat programs, video conferencing software, and email, are also critical tools for remote employees.

Remote work can be synchronous or asynchronous. In a synchronous remote work environment, everyone works at the same time, even though they are in different locations. Synchronous remote work environments often allow for streamlined communication since the team works simultaneously.

In an asynchronous remote work environment, each employee works on their own schedule. Employees might be in different time zones or work completely different shifts. Communication can be more challenging, as employees might not work the same hours as their supervisors and may have to wait for responses to questions.

Types of remote work structures

Companies that want to offer remote work options to employees can choose from several types of remote work structures:

  1. Fully remote: Employees who are fully remote never go into an office. They always work from home or their preferred workspace. In some cases, the company might not even have a centralized workspace.
  2. Hybrid: Hybrid employees work remotely some of the time and visit the office the rest of the time. They might have other obligations, such as conducting site visits, that require them to show up in person. How frequently employees work remotely or in-office depends on their preferences and what their company allows.
  3. Remote work optional: Some companies offer the option of working remotely but strongly prefer employees to be in the office as much as possible. The remote work option might be something employees use when they have a sick child at home or other household obligations.
  4. Temporarily remote: Companies might work remotely sometimes, based on need. In a temporarily remote environment, there’s the understanding that employees will return to the office someday.

What kinds of jobs can be performed remotely?

While some kinds of jobs seem more suited to remote work than others, the truth is that occupations in almost every field can be remote. Some of the most popular remote jobs include:

  1. Software developer
  2. Writer or editor
  3. Project manager
  4. Designer (web, UX, products)
  5. Digital, content, and social media marketer
  6. Accountant
  7. Lawyer
  8. Customer service

A McKinsey survey found that remote employees are more prevalent than ever before. For example, about half of the survey participants who work in education and 45% of those working in healthcare reported working remotely at least some of the time.

Even certain jobs that seem as though they require an in-person presence, such as physical trainers or tour guides, can be performed remotely at least partially.

As long as employees have access to an internet connection, phone, and computer, they can probably do some, if not all, of their work remotely.

The pros and cons of a remote workforce

If your company is considering going remote or growing its remote work options, there are benefits and drawbacks to doing so. Before you hire remote employees or offer existing employees more remote work options, carefully weigh the pros and cons of a remote workforce.

Pros of remote work

Some of the benefits of remote work include:

  1. Attracts more candidates. The majority of jobseekers now want the option to work from home at least some of the time, if not all of the time. Your company will likely see more applications from qualified candidates if you offer a remote option.
  2. Can lead to greater productivity. Remote employees can be more productive than in-office employees. They often have fewer distractions from colleagues who may interfere with their work. There are also fewer distractions from a commute when people work remotely. They start their days less stressed, which helps them work more efficiently.
  3. Reduces expenses for companies. Going partially or fully remote can help companies save money. Your company can reduce the number of offices it rents when most of your team works remotely. There are other cost-saving opportunities too. For example, your company won’t have to pay to keep the break room stocked with snacks or office supplies.
  4. Provides more hiring flexibility. Going remote allows your company to increase its hiring horizons. You’re no longer limited to hiring from local talent pools. If your company is planning international growth, a remote workforce allows you to hire globally, without having to establish physical offices in those countries.
  5. Encourages work-life balance. Burnout is a major concern among employees today. Many factors contribute to burnout, but lack of downtime and long commute times are two major contributors. When employees work remotely, they don’t have to commute, which reduces a major source of stress. Remote employees can often be more engaged in the work they do and feel happier at their jobs, which benefits them, their colleagues, and their companies.

Cons of remote work

There are some potential drawbacks of remote work that are worth considering.

  1. Technological difficulties: Technology makes remote work possible, but technology isn’t without its problems. Employees can lose internet connection and waste valuable working time. Similarly, if a company’s system is down or there’s a problem with a server, employees might not be able to do their work for the day.
  2. Lack of face-to-face interaction: When employees work remotely, they don’t get to know each other in person. The lack of face-to-face interaction can make employees feel isolated or lonely in their jobs. They might not collaborate with their co-workers as much as they would in an in-person environment, which can reduce engagement.
  3. Delayed responses and miscommunication: When employees work face-to-face, they can get answers to questions in real time or with limited delay. In a remote work environment, there is often a delay between when an employee asks a question and when they receive a response. Miscommunication can also be more common in a remote environment, especially if messages cross paths or employees don’t verify that they fully understand the task at hand. Fortunately, tools are available to help improve communication between remote team members.
  4. Trust issues: Remote work requires a lot of trust. Supervisors can’t look over their employees’ shoulders to verify that they’re in the office or doing the work they claim to be doing.

Are remote work models effective?

Remote employees tend to be very productive. One survey of employers who adopted a remote work model due to the pandemic found that 83% believed the switch to remote work was a success. More than half of employers and nearly half of employees stated that remote work led to an increase in productivity.

Companies that adopt certain practices typically obtain better results from remote work than companies that don’t. For example, a company should ensure that each of its remote employees has a reliable internet connection at home and a laptop or device that can handle the software and applications required for the job.

Investing in tools that streamline communication and collaboration in a remote workforce is also a must for companies that want to get the most from a remote work environment.

Having certain protocols in place also increases the effectiveness of a remote team, particularly if employees are scattered around the globe. Your company might schedule check-ins between project managers and remote team members, giving them a chance to discuss concerns and progress on projects. Using collaboration tools and encouraging team members to share and update their work progress also streamlines communication.

Hiring the right employees from the start also increases the effectiveness of a remote team. Some employees are better suited for a remote work environment than others. They are used to working independently and have a proven track record of completing projects and tasks with little supervision.

Finally, while your remote team might never meet in person, you can still take steps to increase interaction and create team-building activities. Virtual team-building exercises or icebreakers before video meetings can help everyone get to know each other and make them feel more connected. When your team feels like a unit, it’ll work more effectively.

Hire and manage your remote workforce with G-P.

Remote work is here to stay and has many benefits for companies. As your company scales and begins to increase the size of its remote workforce, G-P can help manage the growing pains.

Our fully compliant, SaaS-based Global Growth Platform™ automates and streamlines recruiting, onboarding, hiring, payroll, and HR processes. With our technology, you can quickly hire and manage your remote employees, no matter where in the world they are located. Our platform lets you build international teams in 180+ countries, with no entity setup required, all while remaining compliant with labor and tax laws.

Request a proposal today to see how it works.

 

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