Remote work or teleworking is a new form of work in which employees have the ability to work from anywhere and any day and/or time. In other words, their daily transportation to a central place of work is replaced by the possibility of work by using modern forms of telecommunications.
Remote working came into prominence in the 1970s to describe work-related substitutions of telecommunication and related information technologies for travel. In the 1990s, telecommuting became the subject of pop culture attention. In 1995, the motto that “work is something you do, not something you travel to” was coined. Variations of this motto include: “Work is something we DO, not a place that we GO” and “Work is what we do, not where we are.” Remote working has been adopted by a range of businesses, governments and not-for-profit organizations. Organizations may use telecommuting to reduce costs. Remote working employees do not require an office or cubicle. They don’t need to rent or purchase a space, and incurs additional costs such as lighting, climate control, etc. Some organizations adopt remote working to improve workers’ quality of life, as it typically reduces commuting time and time stuck in traffic jams.
Along with this, remote working may make it easier for workers to balance their work responsibilities with their personal life and family roles (e.g., caring for children or elderly parents). Some organizations adopt remote working for environmental reasons, as telework can reduce congestion and air pollution, with fewer cars on the roads.
Remote workers in the 21st century often use mobile telecommunications technology such as a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop or tablet computers and smartphones to work from coffee shops. Others may use a desktop computer and a landline phone at their home. According to a Reuters poll, approximately “one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day”. In the 2000s, annual leave or vacation in some organizations was absence from the workplace rather than ceasing work, and some office employees used telework to continue to check work e-mails while on vacation.
Telecommuting benefits society in economic, environmental, and personal ways.
The wide application of ICTs provides increasing benefits for employees, especially ones with physical disabilities. It also leads to a more energy-saving society without adversely impacting economic growth. Remote working offers benefits to communities, employers, and employees. For communities, telecommuting may offer fuller employment, by increasing the employability of circumstantially marginalized groups such as work at home parents and caregivers, the disabled, retirees, and people living in remote areas. Remote work reduces traffic congestion and traffic accidents, relieving pressure on transportation infrastructure, reducing greenhouse gases, reducing energy use, and improving disaster preparedness.
For companies, remote work expands the talent pool, reduces the spread of illness, reduces costs including real-estate footprint, increases productivity, reduces their carbon footprint and energy usage. It also offers a means of complying with people with disabilities, reduces turnover and absenteeism, improves employee morale, enhances continuity-of-operations strategies, improves their ability to handle business across multiple time zones, and augments their cultural adaptability. Some estimates suggest that full-time remote work can save companies approximately $20,000 per employee. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, remote working saves enough energy to power 1 million US households for a year.
Telecommuting individuals, or more specifically those in “work from home” arrangements, may find that it improves work-life balance, reduces their carbon footprint and fuel usage, frees up the equivalent of 15 to 25 workdays a year (time they would have otherwise spent commuting), and saves thousands of dollars per year in travel and work-related costs. Half-time telecommuting by those with compatible jobs (40%) and a desire to do so (79%) would save companies, communities, and employees over $ 650 billion a year; the result of increased productivity, reduced office expense, lower absenteeism and turnover, reduced travel, less road repairs, less gas consumption, and other savings.
Remote working gained ground in the United States in 1996 after “Clean Air Act amendments were adopted with the expectation of reducing carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone levels by 25 percent.” The act required companies with over 100 employees to encourage car pools, public transportation, shortened work weeks, and telecommuting. In 2004, an appropriations bill was enacted by Congress to encourage telecommuting for certain Federal agencies. The bill threatened to withhold money from agencies that failed to provide telecommuting options to all eligible employees.
[Remote working has long been promoted as a way to substantially increase employee productivity. A working-from-home-related experiment conducted using 242 employees of a large Chinese travel agency by professors at Stanford and Beijing University found that employees randomly assigned to work at home for 9 months increased their output by 13.5% versus the office-based control group. This improvement in output arose from working 9% more hours from saved commuting time and from 3.5% improved efficiency from quieter working conditions. The study also found that home-workers reported significantly higher job-satisfaction scores and their quit rates fell by almost 50%. However, home workers’ promotion rates dropped by half due to apparent performance declines, indicating a potential career cost of home-working.
Remote work flexibility is a desirable prerequisite for employees. A 2008 Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index, a survey of 1,400 CFOs by recruitment firm Robert Half International, indicated that 13% consider telework the best recruiting incentive today for accounting professionals. In earlier surveys, 33% considered telework the best recruiting incentive, and half considered it second best.
Since work hours are less regulated in telework, employee effort and dedication are far more likely to be measured purely in terms of output or results. Fewer, if any, traces of non-productive work activities (research, self-training, dealing with technical problems or equipment failures) and time lost on unsuccessful attempts (early drafts, fruitless endeavors, abortive innovations) are visible to employers. Piece rate, commissions, or other performance-based compensation also become more likely for telecommuters.
Furthermore, major chunks of per-employee expenses are absorbed by the telecommuter himself – from simple coffee, water, electricity, and telecommunications services, to huge capital expenses like office equipment or software licenses. Thus, hours spent on the job tend to be underestimated and expenses under-reported, creating overly optimistic figures of productivity gains and savings, some or all of those in fact coming out of the telecommuter’s time and pocket.
International evidence and experience shows that telework can deliver a broad range of benefits to individuals, employers and society as a whole. Telework is a shift in the way business is accomplished which can make a difference overtime.
As an example, a recent Australian study revealed that telework enabled by the National Broadband Network is expected to add $8.3 billion to Gross Domestic Product by 2020, creating the equivalent of an additional 25,000 full-time jobs. Around 10,000 of these jobs will be in regional Australia. When it comes to environment, it has been estimated that if 10 per cent of Australian employees were to telework 50 percent of the time, it would save 120 million litres of fuel and 320,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. That rate of telework would also deliver a productivity benefit of between $1.4 billion and $1.9 billion a year.]
There are different types of remote work. In a fully remote position you only work from home (or wherever you have access to your needed tools) and you never go into the company’s physical location. This is becoming more and more common as companies realize they have access to a much wider talent pool if they allow people from all over to apply to their positions.
On the other hand, a flexible job provides some flexibility, either regarding schedule or work location, or both. If a flexible job provides location flexibility, it may allow you to only telecommute, or it may require that employees work from the company’s physical location at least some of the time. If you’re working in a full-time, traditional job setting for which you spend most of your time on a computer, there is a chance you may be able to switch to a flexible schedule that allows you to telework for at least part of the time. The more successful you’ve been at your current organization, the better your chances. If you have a proven track record, your superiors are more likely to trust that you will accomplish your goals when you are working in a different location.
A freelance position is one in which you are contracted instead of employed by the organization. Freelance positions are often location independent. By definition, a freelancer sets their own hours and establishes their own pricing, so this is a good place to start delving into the world of remote work. You can also build your own online business that by nature allows you to work remotely. Online entrepreneurs can create their business based on previous freelance work or by meeting a need in the market. If you do so, you can call yourself an online entrepreneur. If you’ve ever been interested in starting your own business but have been daunted by all that goes with it, an online business could be the path for you. It won’t be easy, but it could be a good option for you.
Because of the flexibility inherent to all of these positions, it may be possible for you to have more than one job. For instance, you can start working as a freelancer for as many hours of your free time that you’re willing to give up. Diversifying your skillset and income streams is a good way to ensure your professional and financial success in this changing economy. A side hustle is the work you do besides your main job. You can even have more than one side hustle!
Ten years ago, the concept of working from home or remotely was still a pipe dream. Fast forward and today, technology has opened up new realities and possibilities. There are many opportunities for those looking to work remotely. With an internet connection, personal discipline, and a bit of polishing up, you can comfortably pay your bills working from your home or while on the move. It’s important to note that remote working is gaining popularity not just for its flexibility and the convenience it accords to the worker, but also for the benefits offices and companies reap in.
Some of the top remote working jobs that can be worked from anywhere are the followings. Social media manager. Almost every major brand that you know has an online presence; their social media accounts are ever active. It would surprise you to know that some of these social media accounts are run and operated by entities that don’t even work at the company! Social media managers get paid to manage accounts of celebrities, companies, and organizations, etc. It can be done from the confines of the remote worker’s house, or wherever he deems convenient. Virtual assistants are hired to reply to emails, manage calendars, record customer complains, and so forth. Typically, virtual assistants earn anything from $10 to $15 an hour. An event planner can coordinate everything from his home, making phone calls and follow-ups using his phone. Birthday parties, corporate events, weddings; event planning is a lucrative venture that requires organizational skills more than anything else.
People are seeking for professional photographers and videographers to cover their weddings, graduation ceremonies, and many more events. This is one job someone can do remotely with no need to report to a physical office! Additionally, a photographer or videographer can always sell professional photos to many sites. Animation is also a much sought after service that can be done remotely. An animator can create visual effects for music videos, TV, video games, and a plethora of other media platforms. Freelancer animators are some of the highest earners in the remote working pecking order.
Additionally, we have more SMEs today than at any other time in history. All are looking to brand themselves, often by having an original, catchy logo designed. A logo designer can offer his logo designing and branding services remotely. Popular sites like Upwork and Freelancer are good starting points for this service. Furthermore, programmers and coders are always on demand from businesses and individuals. Programmers help design websites or enhance certain features on the site. Others use their skills to develop apps and software.
An online auditor’s work is to help firms and companies file their tax returns. Online auditors need to ensure that they are approved by the relevant bodies, IRS (Internal Revenue Service) for the US or HMRC for the UK. Online auditors are some of the best paid in the industry; one can work for different clients at once and bill them all. There are also businesses and individuals looking for consultants who are well qualified. Accounting, engineering, law, nursing; consultants are much sought after, and the good thing is that they can offer their services online. Freelancers and Upwork are examples of sites a consultant can get gigs related to his area of specialty.
Blogging is also a work that can me done remotely. It is inexpensive to start and it’s a great way to make money remotely. You just need to be passionate about a given topic; it could be traveling, fishing, food, music, and so on. On the other hand, influencers are social media personalities with massive followings. Brands hire them to promote or try out their products and share the feedback with their followers. An influencer need to have thousands of friends on Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, and other popular social media platforms.
Another service of remote work can be music production. A music producer records artists and does radio voice-overs for commercials and documentaries. Most of the software that are usefull in order to record and edit audio files can be downloaded online.
Halfway through a year where working life has been upended, there has been a spate of the kind of “Future of Work” reports beloved by consultants, analysts and business managers. Weighty predictions about how working life will be transformed by technology have been a staple of the digital era. Ever since the term “telecommuting” was invented in the early 1970s, idealised visions for new ways of working have held a powerful allure, even if the reality has fallen short. So when real change is in the air, the imagination leaps ahead. There are 1.25bn “knowledge workers”, or people who spend at least one hour of their working day in front of a screen, according to tech research firm Forrester. A large portion of them have been forced to spend much of this year on Zoom.
Wall Street has decided that this heralds a new era, driving up the stock prices not just of Zoom, but of many other software companies involved in communications and collaboration, along with all the technologies needed to support remote workers. The Work From Home boom will recede. But it is already clear that many people hope to spend part of their working lives out of the office long after the pandemic has passed — and that they and their managers believe they can be at least as productive. Even those who return full-time have had a taste of new ways of working.
That makes this year’s experiment in Work From Home a catalyst for a set of changes that have been decades in the making. They extend beyond remote work, and include long-running efforts to make workers more productive by breaking down barriers within an organisation, and between organisations. When face-to-face meetings become impossible, it allows a new, digital-first way of working to seep in.
Inevitably, parts of the Work From Home revolution of 2020 will come to be seen as a false dawn. Many workers will be only too glad to get out from behind the video conferencing screens. The suites of cloud applications sold by companies like Google and Microsoft will exert a gravitational pull, as employers try to limit their spending on whizzy new apps. But the crisis has still brought an alluring glimpse of a future way of working, as well as the new software fortunes it will create.