Top Three Reasons I'm Thankful for the Work from Home Experience

    Ah Thanksgiving… we can practically taste the roasted turkey swimming in gravy, the sweet potatoes decorated with marshmallows and the delicious cranberries now. Our pants are already feeling tighter, a tryptophan-induced nap is around the corner and we can’t wait to pull the wishbone.

    In the spirit of all things Thanksgiving, it’s time to give you our technologically-based “what-we-are-thankful-for” list. Topping the list this year is the ability for us and our coworkers to be able to work remotely. Let’s take a look at the top three reasons why you should wish for an opportunity for remote work when you pull that wishbone this Thanksgiving:

    You (and Your Team) Can Get More Done

    Despite every fiber of your being that wishes otherwise, as a manager you know deep down that not all your employees are fully engaged with their work. In fact, only 70 percent of your workers are reaching their full potential, as was revealed in Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” study. Even worse, the study found that:

    Disengagement amongst employees costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion per year.

    So how do you get the most out of your team? In many cases it's by allowing them to work remotely. As was revealed in the same study, remote workers are more engaged (32 percent) than those who work on-site (28 percent). Moreover, a mobile workforce is able to log 46 hours a week, compared to the 42 hours on-site workers complete.

    This Thanksgiving, as a manager, you should be thankful for the fact that your team can work remotely and get more done. One of the main reasons remote workers are more productive is because it's often easier to enter a state of Flow, meaning they are completely consumed by a task and lost in creative thought. While working in the office, distractions are everywhere and never-ending. Co-workers talk around you, the typing on the keyboard on the other side of the cubicle takes you out from "being in the zone" and that trip to the cafeteria or nearby restaurant can end up costing you 30 minutes because the line is out the door.

    At home, however, you and your valuable workforce can knock things off the to-do list virtually uninterrupted. Of course you need to have a proper workspace and you need to set expectations and boundaries with those who might also be around you while working. Your remote workforce can embrace the mental state of Flow, feeling fully immersed, involved and engaged with the task at hand. It furthermore can help your employees stay happier by freeing them up to develop their sense of autonomy and mastery - two of the core components of motivation. So the next time your team members ask to work from home, stop worrying about them secretly catching up on episodes of “Breaking Bad” and realize that statistically they should be more productive than your on-site staff. Besides, you measure people on output and performance, not just logging hours and face time, right?

    It Shows Us Just How Far Technology Has Come

    A few years ago, if you wanted to work remotely, you had to bundle up your necessary paperwork and files, check to see if that dusty PC or laptop at home still works, and keep your fingers crossed that you would be able to remotely log in to check your emails. It also meant that you would have to call your voicemail to see if you missed any calls, find an alternate form of instant messaging to communicate in real-time with your coworkers and find the perfect day—one without any meetings scheduled—to work from home.  In a nutshell, the benefits of working from home didn’t always outweigh the difficulty surrounding that decision.

    Today, however, the work from home experience is just as seamless—and perhaps even more efficient—than the office environment. That’s because modern, primarily cloud-based, technologies have allowed companies to completely simulate the on-site experience remotely, equipping employees with a robust office phone system right in their own home as well as most, if not all, of the applications they already use in the office. Here’s a look at just some of the leading-edge technologies revolutionizing communications for the at-home experience:

    • Find Me/Follow Me, which serves as a call forwarding function that allows user to receive calls at any location
    • Voicemail to Email Transcription, which converts voicemails to attachments so that they can be emailed to your corporate account so that you can listen to them by simply downloading the attachment
    • Video/Audio Conferencing, which allows your remote workers to engage in face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders no matter where they are located
    • Screen Sharing, which allows your team to share screens with one another so that they can review documents, conduct meetings and collaborate on the spot
    • Instant Messaging, which allows remote workers to communicate with on-site workers instantly and in real-time
    • Mobility, which allows you to use your smartphone as your work phone with your work number, company directory, voicemail and 4 digit dialing

    The cloud-based technologies that enable the work-at-home movement remind us just how far we have come with regards to technological innovation. This Thanksgiving, be thankful for the fact that gold-standard technology has enabled your very best workers to live anywhere across the globe and still feel as though they are a cubicle away.

    You Can Grow Your Business Smartly

    Before the dawn of the remote worker movement, businesses were greatly limited by geographical constraints. Specifically, if a leading marketing executive lived in California, but your home office was in New York, you had a serious decision on your hand: actively try to recruit and entice the exec to move to the Big Apple or try to figure out if such a prime position could be a remote one.

    Fortunately, today your business can go after the right people. Internally, our own motto is "hire the best, not the closest" (And in a world in which the brightest and the best come from all walks of life, this greatly increases the likelihood of you building the best team possible). This Thanksgiving, give thanks for the fact that you no longer have to settle for a B-team player who comes in to interview because the A-player who you really want lives 2,000 miles away and refuses (or is unable) to relocate.  Give thanks to the fact that with the right technology in place, that A-player can be recruited and just as accessible as if he or she was the office down from yours.

    In addition, be grateful that your business can also travel across borders and time zones without ever spending a dime on travel and lodging thanks to the rise of video conferencing, screen sharing and webinars. In today’s technologically-rich environment, your team can interact with international and cross-national clients instantaneously, enabling you to grow your business in real-time, while still operating on a limited budget.

    The Tip of the Iceberg

    These are just a few of the reasons I'm thankful.  The truth is that there are many more reasons to be thankful for remote work. It's good for employees and it's good for companies. For me, I love where I live, and working remotely allows me to do what I love while living in a place I love. It's hard for any office building to beat the view from my "office".

    If remote work interests you or if it is a topic that you'd like to explore further, I highly encourage you to take a look at our Guide to Remote Work.  It's a collection of various articles we've written as well as resources we've found online that can help you make the argument to pursue remote work options in your organization as well as tips on how to be the most effective while working or managing remotely.

    From our company to yours this Thanksgiving, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter, good health and plenty of things for which to give thanks!

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