I’m confident in saying that many of us with computer focused desk jobs have likely thought to ourselves at some point (or maybe every day as you struggle to wake up in front of the coffee pot), “I could be accomplishing everything I’m doing here from the comfort of my own home”. As advancements in technology make remote access to the office easier, that desire becomes more and more feasible, and as it turns out, actually may lead to a more engaged employee base as supported by data from recent Gallup polls.
The number of employees working from home at least a day or two a week has risen drastically, with a 300% increase in off-site work over the last twenty years. Polling has shown that 58% of employees believe that they can be equally as productive working remotely as they would be on site at the office. Those allowed to work remotely report themselves as more time efficient and engaged in their work.
I attribute these dramatic increases to rising millennial presence in the work force. This is a generation that has grown up alongside technology, and understands that its power perhaps negates the need to be tethered to a traditional desk (in some cases). Even communal activities like meetings can be accomplished via video conferencing from home, and new technologies like Microsoft’s Surface Hub have been created with the goal of helping facilitate a mix of onsite and offsite collaboration and content sharing. This is at odds with the baby boomer generation, who are A) largely in management positions and B) typically believe the traditional “report 9 to 5 to your office” environment is the best way to work.
The pitfalls of having a remote workforce are there, of course. Team cohesion and workplace culture may prove to suffer. Productivity certainly has to be carefully tracked to make sure employees stay on course with their workload. Some positions, especially those in sales, will always have to have a focus on face to face relationship building and collaboration. However, if trends continue, employers will have to come to terms with a growing workforce who expect mobility and freedom assuming they can produce results.
–Eric Hoyt, Creative Technology Group