Contrary to popular belief, remote workers generally remain incredibly focused, even if they’re sitting in a comfy lounge chair with an oceanfront view. I’ll testify that I worked remotely the past week in the Hamptons, sitting poolside, while my girlfriend swam in a bikini. The surprising part is, I got my work done, as I was not only relaxed, I was focused (most of the time). There are a number of significant factors that went into my due diligence – many of them common amongst remote workers, no matter what the venue (or scenery).
Unified communications and collaboration clearly play a large role in orchestrating contact between remote workers, and the large growth in video conferencing accurately reflects the increasing faith companies have in these technologies. Technology, along with companies offering flexible work arrangements, has led to millions of workers laboring away from a main office. Gartner Inc., an information-technology research and advisory company, says the number of worldwide remote workers will pass 46 million this year.
The Understood Dependance of the Company on Remote Workers
Its a complete misconception that being out of the office means being out of the loop and out of focus. Interactions while working remotely are usually completely digital, meaning there’s a binary “paper trail” to everything an employee does. That being said, every e-mail, piece of correspondence, text, and the like are absolutely vital to making the business work. It stands as an unwritten business more, that while working remotely, the employee will be held accountable for everything (traceable) they do in a different way than if they were in the office. Speaking from my own personal experience, there is the ever-present realization that my textual submittals will be scrutinized much more than my words, and thus, I will go the extra length to make them as close to perfect as I can.
Another consideration – members of virtual teams might be separated by distance, but it is universally understood that their interactions are extremely valuable to making the business run well. The result is a team that corresponds efficiently and often, strengthening the company as a whole. Another large part to making remote work successful is the media used to manage a virtual team — video conferencing, instant messaging, email, and phone calls — which make bosses more well-versed in technological tools, and thus, better leaders.
Scott Edinger, founder of Tampa-based Edinger Consulting Group, wrote that the physical proximity of an office gives the illusion that co-workers are communicative and working together efficiently. The opposite is true, however. Remote workers are actually more engaged and committed to their team. He added, “What’s more, because they have to make an effort to make contact, these leaders can be much more concentrated in their attention to each person and tend to be more conscious of the way they express their authority.”
Finally, I’ll conclude with a quote that may seem unrelated, but is all too relevant when working remotely.
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I assure that I’m not reaching on this one, and I’ll explain why by dissecting the above and relating it directly to my own personal experience. The requirement part of the freedom, is the dare I say, pressure to execute even if you’re not confined by a cubicle. I view working remotely as a privilege – one not to be taken for granted, otherwise I may lose it, or even my job. The aforementioned “responsibility”, is ever-present, no matter where I might be. Taking care of business every day and every way is something to pride oneself upon, whether you are submitting a proposal from home or from a seat at a conference table – its best to do so with the same caliber of quality.
The last sentence of that quote speaks of the impending fear that freedom might be abused by an individual that is “unwilling to grow up”. Working remotely, although there may be exceptions, is something I’d truly only have faith in adults to do. Not just any adult, rather, the career-oriented, focused adult who understands the importance of doing well. Having a good reputation goes a long way, so why taint it by neglecting your responsibilities simply because you’re not in the office with a boss breathing down your neck? For the quality employee, there’s no need for all that, and once again, I’ll testify that I am so and really view being able to work remotely as a vote of confidence from your employer.
This is only few of the many reasons those working remotely can really thrive and stay connected using VoIP, video conferencing, cloud computing, e-mail, and other methods of communication. There’s really a satisfying feeling in taking an incoming call on my laptop, hands-free with a headset, in my boxers, using VoIP – not the mention being able to make my characteristically frequent trips to the fridge with my favorite album playing out loud in the background. The implications are too clear to deny, as the future of VoIP and unified communications solutions become more defined towards making working on-the-go popular, and possible.