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Why Remote and Gig Work Isn’t Just a Fad — It’s Here to Stay

Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Working remotely — add it to the long list of things that millennials and Gen Z decided to shake up.

More and more, employees and companies are realizing that work traditionally done in a 9-to-5 office environment can just as easily be done from home (or anywhere else in the world).

With the perfect storm of employees seeking more autonomy and a greater work-life balance, and companies in dire need of scarce talent, the rise of remote work isn’t just a fad — it’s here to stay.

We’re going to take a look at how the prevalence of remote and gig working can be beneficial to employees — as well as detrimental — and why they’re deciding to pursue remote opportunities. We’ll also look at what the day-to-day looks like for remote employees and how companies are successfully shifting their business models to cater to this growing trend.

Why Are Employees Going Remote?

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As the workforce continues to change and younger generations begin their careers, employees are seeking out different perks from their employers. Specifically, workers are interested in flexible work arrangements and desire a greater work-life balance.

In a recent study of 2,500 remote workers conducted by Buffer, 40% of respondents stated that the biggest benefit they receive from working remotely is that they can have a flexible schedule.

But what does this mean exactly? This tells us that employees love the fact that they can get several hours back every week by avoiding a long commute into work and fighting rush hour traffic.

It also says that employees enjoy being able to plan their day according to their own unique personal needs. For instance, if they would like to wake up and work for a few hours, then go to the gym and exercise, they can do that. By having greater control of their schedule, employees can balance their professional and personal lives to their liking.

This benefit also paves the way for young parents who would like to spend more time with their family. Since 30% of respondents think the greatest benefit is being able to work from anywhere and 14% say they’re able to spend more time with their family, it’s clear that being able to work from home is a driving force behind this growing trend.

Not Everything Is as Rosy as It Seems

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We’d be lying if we said that remote work doesn’t come with setbacks. There are definitely obstacles that remote workers and companies face on a daily basis, specifically unplugging once work is over, feeling isolated and lonely, and maintaining open lines of communication and collaboration with coworkers.

One major problem that many remote workers face is that it’s difficult to draw the line in the sand between work and your personal life. Since they’re working remotely — in many cases from home — 22% of remote workers say the biggest difficulty is unplugging after work.

Many remote workers also report a sense of isolation and loneliness since much of the work is done by themselves with no coworkers around. Sure, there might be family or other people around as you’re working, but the close sense of camaraderie and collaboration is difficult to maintain when employees work from different locations.

To combat this struggle, companies are making strides to implement the right tools and processes to not only ensure employees can communicate effectively, but also maintain a healthy level of collaboration across their entire team.

The Prevalence of Remote and Gig Working

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As the next wave managers take the helm, companies are beginning to realize that the employees of the future demand more flexible work arrangements.

In a recent study conducted by Upwork of more than 1,000 workforce hiring decision-makers, over half of the younger generation decision-makers — millennial and Gen Z managers and directors — say that talent scarcity and finding employees with the required skills is their biggest challenge. As hiring becomes increasingly difficult and competitive, companies must adapt and be more open to the idea of hiring a remote workforce.

Nearly 70% of younger generation managers allow at least some of their team to work remotely. They also state that within three years, two out of five employees will be completing at least some of their work from home.

These open-minded managers are also turning to freelance employees at a much higher rate than previous generations. Thanks to the prevalence of remote and gig working, freelance workers are being utilized over two times as much as previous generations with this number expected to keep increasing.

One of the main drivers of this growth of freelance work is also the fact that companies seek out very specific technical skills. A major chunk of the remote workforce leans heavily towards technical jobs, like software developers and computer programmers.

So how can hiring managers differentiate themselves to win over skilled workers?

To lure in top talent, companies must now offer competitive benefits packages and added perks to differentiate from other companies. Lucrative benefits like unlimited vacation time, coworking allowance, and home-office stipends help companies attract scarce talent.

The Workplace of the Future

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Without an office to drive into every day, what does a day in the life of a remote worker look like? In order for the prevalence of remote and gig working to persist, employees must still be able to have a productive work environment and the correct processes and tools must be in place.

Although remote work enables employees to work from wherever they want in the world, 84% of surveyed workers report that their primary place of work is from home. After that, only 8% report that their primary place of work is a coworking space.

This implies that workers look for consistency and reliability in their work environment. Home office staples like comfortable seating, reliable internet, and a distraction-free work environment are still necessities for workers.

When it comes to secondary places of work, nearly 40% of workers state that coffee shops are their desired place of work and 14% prefer to work in a coworking space. It was also uncovered that 44% of workers will travel while working up to one month out of the year.

Since employees may be working across several time zones, it’s important for managers to implement the correct processes and collaboration tools. Project management and group communication tools like Basecamp, Slack, and Asana allow for seamless collaboration and communication to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Without these tools and processes put in place, remote work can be a challenging undertaking that is destined to fail. Companies that are in uncharted territory and are new to hiring remote employees may struggle with maintaining a productive team. But those who are able to master it will reap the benefits of having a highly productive and happy team.

Entering the Remote Workforce

The glitz and glam of being able to work remotely has many workers taking note. Since this growing trend doesn’t appear to have an end in sight, more workers are open to the idea of finding employment that allows them to work remotely, at least for part of their weekly schedule.

What many workers don’t realize, however, is that remote work is a completely different beast. The job search tactics that have always been used for previous jobs is not quite the same for finding remote work.

Since companies are searching for responsible employees who are capable of being trusted to work from home, candidates must customize their resumes and interview responses to reflect this type of experience. It’s important that candidates show they’re proficient in using collaboration tools and have a proven track record of consistently hitting deadlines.

Job candidates must also be able to present specific tangible skills that are applicable to the open position. Specialization in certain skills will go a long way since companies are looking for experts in certain areas.

The Prevalence of Remote and Gig Working: It’s Here to Stay

While workplace fads like open office layouts come and go, the prevalence of remote and gig working is only going to increase in the coming years. Employees have made it loud and clear that they demand more flexible work arrangements that help improve their quality of life.

In order for companies to successfully make it work, it’s important that the correct process and tools are in place. If not, having remote employees will be doomed to fail for managers who don’t fully understand the logistics behind a successful remote team.

If you’re interested in remote work, then make sure to check out our guide to some of the best work-from-home jobs. You can also begin your job search with one of these work-from-home job boards.

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