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We have seen the whole industry of consumer electronics boom with the increase in remote work. Everyone seems to be looking for the latest home office gadget and it has become incredibly important to stay online and connected at all times.
Are Employees Really More Productive at Home?
To answer the question of productivity, Airtasker conducted a study of 1004 full-time employees in the US, with 505 of them working remotely. The Study found that remote workers were more productive than their in-office counterparts, putting in an extra 17 hours of work each year, which is equivalent to 1.4 extra days of labor per month.
The study also found that remote employees worked 10 minutes more per day than office workers, despite taking longer breaks (22 minutes compared to 18 minutes). In contrast, office workers were unproductive for about 37 minutes every day, apart from lunch and rest, while remote employees were unproductive for 27 minutes. Furthermore, only 15% of remote workers reported being distracted by their managers, compared to 22% of office-based workers.
What Are The Challenges?
While the numbers suggest that working remotely can lead to increased productivity, the American Psychological Association reports that remote personnel experience higher levels of tension and difficulties in attaining a work-life balance compared to those who work in a physical office. Furthermore, remote workers may struggle with feelings of isolation and have a harder time collaborating with colleagues. However, these downsides can be mitigated with proper management end support from employers.
Some of the big selling gadgets that help workers stay connected are tele-conferencing equipment, webcams, headphones, mini projectors etc. Thanks to this technology, workers are less isolated while working at home. It is expected that with advancements in artificial intelligiance and virtual reality, the challeng of isolation will be less of an issue.
The Current Situation
With the recent advancements in communication and online access, teleworking has become a regular practice in numerous offices worldwide. A survey conducted by Gallup reported that 45% of full-time U.S. employees put in some hours working away from the office, and most of them cited increased productivity as the main reason why they prefer remote or hybrid work.
Interestingly, some of these remote workers chose to travel while continuing to work remotely, still remaining productive with their job duties. Commonly, they take advantage of coffee shops or shared workspaces to do their professional activities. So long as workers have the technology to stay online, they will have the ability to work.
What Do Employees Think?
In a survey conducted by Buffer, 2118 individuals were consulted regarding various aspects of working remotely. About half (52%) of the respondents were personnel, while the other 42% were self-employed consultants and freelancers. Among these employees, 74% were part of organizations with 500 or fewer employees.
When asked to rate their experience with online jobs, 61% said "very positive", 29% said "somewhat positive", 9% were neutral, and none of them had a "very negative" opinion.
On the question of whether remote work can impede career development, the opinions were divided. Some management professionals had expressed their worries that remote work may prevent employees, particularly junior ones, from networking and learning from their colleagues. However, the majority of the respondents (55%) strongly disagreed with this notion. In fact, 14% of them even believed that remote work could help their career progression, while 41% of them thought it had no influence whatsoever.
Will Technology Continue To Facilitate Remote Work?
Video conferencing is a very beneficial innovation for successful remote work. It enables remote employees to have a virtual meeting from any place that has online access. Other gadgets and electronics such as webcams, portable printers and scanners make virtual work much easier. This could not be possible without the emergence of broadband internet in the past decade and a half.
Due to the rapid development of technology, many businesses now prefer to have “coworking spaces” as opposed to a traditional office to accommodate their remote staff. We have also seen an increasing number of shared offices available in various locations. This alone shows that remote working is likely to remain in place and even continue to grow.
Fast Company has reported that virtual reality conferencing will soon replace in-person meetings as the primary way of communication. With programs like Slack, Zoom, and Asana, staying connected has never been easier. In addition, we can expect other new AI technology to emerge which will help employers manage and monitor employees and their efficiency.
Is There A Downside?
Working remotely may not be a dream for some people. Even though it can spare you the hectic commute and let you work wearing your PJs, there are other aspects to consider. According to a survey done by FinanceBuzz, the three most frequent difficulties encountered by people working from home are:
1) Establishing personal connections with colleagues (49%) 2) Experiencing a feeling of isolation (46%) 3) Trouble dividing a line between home life and work (38%)
Despite the above, the majority (81%) stated they would prefer to continue with remote work. It appears from these numbers that any downside is outweighed by the cherished flexibility and freedom that comes with remote work.
Final Thoughts And Future Expectations
I’m certain that concerns about productivity with remote work will further wane over time. There is no doubt that the future of remote work seems bright as technology advances.
Consumer electronics and home office gadgets will become more prevalent, making remote work easier and more comfortable. Virtual reality conferencing and AI will help increase productivity and will also play a role in management. Shared offices or “coworking spaces” will become the norm and the latest trend of purchasing devices to faciliate online work will continue. Personal tech devices to enhance the home office will be more commonplace.
Employees will no doubt face challenges such as feelings of isolation, fostering personal relationships with colleagues, and separating work from home life. However, the freedom and flexibility that comes with remote work will outweigh these challenges and eventually virtual technology will advance make us feel less isolated.
Employers may have little say in the matter, as resistance to change may come with the risk of falling behind, and employers who embrace the trend may benefit with the retention of talent, increased productivity, and reduced costs. With the right technology and motivated personnel, the transition to a remote workforce can be a win-win for all involved.
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References 1. Airtasker. (2022, March 8). The Benefits of Working From Home. Airtasker. https://www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/2. American Psychological Association. (2019, October). The Future of Remote Work. APA Monitor. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/10/cover-remote-work3. Newport, F. (2021, May 26). Remote Work Persisting, Trending Toward Permanent. Gallup. https://news.gallup.com/poll/355907/remote-work-persisting-trending-permanent.aspx4. Buffer. (2022). The State of Remote Work. https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work/20225. Davis, K. (2018, June 6). 5 Predictions For The Future of Remote Working Tools. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90267790/5-predictions-for-the-future-of-remote-working-tools6. Erlich, R. (2021, May 5). The Drawbacks of Remote Work, According to a Survey of People Who Do It. FinanceBuzz. https://financebuzz.com/drawbacks-remote-work-survey