There is no doubt that remote work is on the rise, with some experts predicting that at least 50% of the workforce will be doing some amount of remote work by 2020. Technology is not just giving people the ability to work from home, it is also changing how they do it. Here are 5 ways that technology is changing how people work from home.
1. More flexible schedules
The 8-hour work day is actually a holdover from the early 20th century. It was most famously instituted by Henry Ford over 100 years ago. While it was a drastic reduction – and therefore a vast improvement – over previous methodologies (namely, a 16-hour workday) it is still a 100- year old idea that may have absolutely no bearing on actual productivity.
Thankfully, technology is changing all of that. Now busy moms and dads can send e-mails and participate in conference calls while dropping off kids at school or even on the sidelines during soccer practice. It allows people who do their best work at night to do it then and early birds to do their best work before the sun is shining. In addition, it actually allows people to break up their day in a way that is most productive for them. They may want to work a few hours early in the morning and then do personal tasks until early afternoon, when they need to make overseas business calls.
2. More connection
One of the long misunderstood benefits to actually working in an office is the social factor. While employers may have long frowned on their employees socializing at work, the truth is social engagement is actually a critical aspect of productivity. In fact, while remote workers have been shown overall to be happier, healthier and more productive, one of the drawbacks of working from home is that they also sometimes feel isolated and alone.
Technology is helping remote workers stay more connected, which in turn helps fulfill their very important social needs. Conversely, however, unlike working in an office when you can’t shut off people that show up at your cubicle or desk, you can mute technology when you really need to get some work done.
3. Efficient managing of remote teams
Managing a team can be hard enough when all of the team members physically inhabit the same space. That level of challenge can raise exponentially, however, when your team may be spread across the globe and in multiple time zones. Thankfully, technology is there to help.
From Digital Assistants that can check everyone’s calendar and schedule meetings during the best time for employees in a range of time zones to project management apps like Asana and Basecamp that can help even the most remote teams stay on the same page and working smoothly together.
4. Better work-rest balance
The problem with the idea of work-life balance is that it doesn’t take into account that your personal life involves work as well. Cooking meals, cleaning, paying bills, running errands and doing laundry are all work – they just aren’t paid work. Thankfully, these days you can automate almost as many of your personal tasks as you can your business ones. By automating many of your personal tasks as you can your business ones. By automating many of your personal tasks such as bill paying and even ordering groceries, you can not only achieve better work-life balance, but better work-rest balance.
Many of the same time management and project management apps that remote workers use for business are also helping them integrate their personal tasks with business tasks, which saves time, energy and effort. In addition, people who work from home have a better ability to integrate their business tasks with their personal ones, which helps save time, money and energy. Instead of taking one trip during the day to meet with a client and a separate trip in the evening to drop of your dry cleaning, you can meet with the client and then drop your dry cleaning off on the way back.
5. Better boundaries
Just because remote workers don’t need to be in the office to do their job and modern technology can reach them anytime, anywhere doesn’t mean they need to be available 24/7. Conversely, when your office is located in your home, it can be difficult for remote workers to ever feel they leave the office.
Traditional office workers have to wrap up their work at some time if they ever want to go home. Workers that work from home do not have this same incentive to consider work completed for the day. Similarly, if they use one computer or cell phone for both business and personal use, their work will always be staring at them every time they log into their computer. By having separate technology for business and personal use, it helps them create better boundaries between work time and personal time.
Working from home creates an interesting mixture of needs. On the one hand, people who work from home often have greater difficulty creating boundaries between work time and personal time and yet at the same time, they also have a greater ability to blend the two more seamlessly. Working from home obviously offers a great number of benefits, but it also presents some significant challenges. Thankfully, technology is there to help.