The growth of internet and mobile communication technologies has made new employment opportunities possible, including the birth of a new remote workforce. This is beneficial for companies that can cut costs by reducing full-time, in-house employees and the many expenses they entail. Other benefits could include talent attraction, improved employee well-being and even increased productivity. Of course, there are also potential drawbacks, such as security concerns, the need for enhanced communications infrastructure and a general reliance on remote work employees to manage their own time efficiently.
According to reports from the UK Office of National Statistics, just under 14% of the country’s workforce is classified as remote (including all home workers), although this is based on a sampling from January to March of 2015. More recently, it was reported that more than half of UK businesses plan to migrate towards remote and flexible work options by the end of 2017, a number that is expected to swell to 70% by 2020. In other words, employers are clearly embracing remote work in the UK.
There are pros and cons to remote work for employees, as well, although there seems to be some disagreement among workers as to the prevalence of drawbacks versus the benefits of working remotely. To some extent, it may depend on the employment situation (i.e. employer and position), not to mention the temperament of the worker. What are the pros and cons of remote work in the UK and how can this modern work situation be developed?
Pros of Remote Work
The greatest benefits of working remotely center on the ability to manage one’s own time. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 51% of respondents felt that remote workplace access helped them to work flexibly, 41% felt they had greater control of their workload and 37% thought they were more productive as a result. 30% even said they felt empowered by having remote access to work, ostensibly due to the benefits listed above.
It could be that these respondents feel confident managing their own time without having a supervisor (or ten!) looking over their shoulder and the ability to work without interruption increases productivity. It may also depend on the tools and support provided by their employers. Whatever the reasons, it seems that roughly half of UK workers are excited about the benefits of working remotely, or at least in a more flexible capacity.
Cons of Remote Work
The counterpoint to this is the perceived inability to “switch off” during personal time, in some cases because the lines between personal and professional time have become blurred, or perhaps because of implied or explicit employer directives. 32% of respondents felt that remote access means they are always on the clock, so to speak.
The Future of Remote Work in the UK
Where does this leave the remote workforce? At the moment, still growing. With employers embracing this new business model and the many benefits to be gained on their end, employees have little option but to get on board. However, workers may need to set boundaries in order to avoid the potential pitfalls of working remotely. With the right tools in place, such as Clarizen’s cloud-based project management software, the ability to manage workflow and productivity is improved for both employers and remote workers.