Is the Remote Working Trend Dead Before It Even Started?

Hillel Weintraub

Turns out that it’s not for everyone. Not every company offers it, and not every person can handle it. But for the right people and positions, remote working can be an employment paradise.

Remote working began in the 1980s when personal computers and network bridges became common.

Tech giants such as IBM and Yahoo were among the first to let employees work from home, but this was a learning period for the industry, and some companies rolled back their telecommuting programs.

We’ve come a long way since then, and remote working is now a mainstream concept.

But is it a good thing?

These are the pros and cons that companies and employees must weigh before picking a side:

For Some, Not Remotely Successful

“I’ve always said, telecommuting is one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard.”

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Not every company is suited for remote work; large, personnel-heavy firms require their departments to be in sync, which isn’t an easy thing to do when most team members are in different locations. Some of the factors why remote work does not always work, include:

  1. No Water Cooler Effect

Remote work prevents the natural and spontaneous exchange of ideas, which can result in significant innovation.

  1. Communication Gaps

At the office, when someone doesn’t answer their phone, chat, or email, you could always drop by his or her desk; not so with remote working.

  1. Lack of Discipline

Richard Laermer, owner of a New York-based PR firm, says that his remote work plan backfired, with employees being unavailable throughout the day.

One even said she couldn’t come into the office because she had plans to go to the Hamptons.  “That was the most unbelievably nervy thing I’d heard in years,” he said. Needless to say, he scrapped his company’s remote work plan within months.

For Others, Offices Are A Distant Memory

“Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”

Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin

It seems that the remote work phenomenon is not going away, with several prominent companies (such as Buffer, American Express, Spotify, and Automattic), leading the pack in allowing employees to set up in their own space — provided, of course, they can perform the tasks properly.

Part of this success is due to a greater understanding of what works for remote work.

The past 30 years have revealed that positions such as iOS development, UX research, and systems engineering function well remotely yet still provide top wages.

So, remote work may be injured, but it is definitely not dead. It is estimated that almost 3% of the U.S. workforce uses telecommuting at least 50% of the time.

Fans of remote work cite the following reasons for promoting its use:

  1. Lower Turnover Rate

According to a recent study, companies that support remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover rate compared with companies that don’t.

  1. Competitive Employment Offerings

Some companies cannot be competitive with others in terms of salary, but remote work can be a benefit that will attract skilled employees.

  1. Quality of Life

Less time and effort spent on travel often means happier employees.

  1. Improving Communications

A variety of hardware and apps provide constant employee availability, while, thanks to cloud technology, file transfers are more efficient than ever.

  1. Cost Reduction

Remote work requires less office space and other resources, and tends to reduce employee absence due to illness.

A Resource-Rich Market

Supporting the adoption of remote work is a mixture of websites and blogs that play an integral part in publicizing and enabling it.

The top websites for information and job listings include Remote.co, nodesk.co, Nomad List, Workingnomads, and Remoters, while top blogs include remotebase.io, vworkspace.com/blog, remote.co, and Buffer Open.

A New Lifestyle

Remote working has even become the basis of the digital nomad movement.

For these adventurous people, it provides an opportunity to move from city to city, or between countries, and enjoy the excitement of constant change. Following are the top five destinations for digital nomads:

  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Considered by many the #1 city for remote working, it offers low-cost living, fast Internet, networking events, and a warm climate.  

  1. Tallinn, Estonia  

You may go “huh?”, but the fact is that Tallinn is a growing European hub for digital nomads, with affordable rent, interesting culture, and a solid IT infrastructure.

  1. London, England

Ok, so Big Ben is closed for renovations, but that certainly shouldn’t stop you from working from one of the many cafés or bars populated by fellow remote workers or freelancers.

  1. Prague, Czech Republic

Solid Wi-Fi connection+ great good + nightlife + medieval city = win.  A laptop and a Pilsner beer…what could be better?

  1. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

You may have trouble pronouncing it, but Ubud is also considered a top destination for remote work. It offers beautiful beaches, good Wi-Fi connectivity, and coworking spaces, while a good portion of the population speaks English.

So, Is Remote Work For You?

That depends.

Some remote work positions are more appropriate for singles or those without children (Oh honey, don’t mind that crab; it just wants to play with you), while other positions might require more work hours or commitment than you bargained for.

Yet other places might ask that you still come to the office once in a while. Also, remote work demands a certain amount of self-discipline.

Does that suit your personality?

For those who answer “yes,” remote working is not simply possible and technically feasible, it is greatly beneficial. Instead of wasting an average of two-three hours a day on the road, that time could be invested in actual work.

Overall, the yays of remote work clearly outweigh the nays.

If you are in the right profession, have the right personality, and want the right work-life balance, remote working is definitely worth exploring. And to make life even easier, the resources needed to find a great job – or great employee – with remote work terms are only a click away.