I am trying to remember the first time I heard of the concept work working remote. The idea that you do your job from anywhere in the world, provided you had a wifi connection was completely strange to me!
I like to think that I caught wind of the term remote working quite early on as I remember reading about dropshipping at least 10+ years ago (and look where dropshipping is today) and have been quite integrated into the ‘’ make money online’ scene but still: I cannot remember as of when remote working became a thing!
Fast forward to today where many companies are offering the option to ‘’work from home’’, big tech companies such as Twitter and Upwork have gone fully remote as more and more people realize that you don’t have to be in an office to be connected, you don’t have to be in an office to be productive. However, at the same time, there are still so many people that could work remote but either don’t want to or are simply never given that option.
I find that remote working is a mindset thing. You, your employer, your clients, business partners (etc) – the success of your remote experience mainly depends on the mindset and the level of responsibility that you are willing to take to make a success. (Some people just fundamentally don’t believe in remote work hence they can only be productive in an office 9-5 setting – and that’s totally fine, remote isn’t for everyone)
But what does it mean to work remotely?
There are to sides that should be considered in answering that question. Ideally, both sides should align to have a great remote working experience:
I recently had a conversation with a friend who is a former CFO or a large financial institution. He had a breakfast meeting with a fellow executive where the topic of working remote came up. More specifically his company introduced a remote working policy and he was asked what the companies main priority was with regards to allowing their employees to work from home. (Or anywhere else for that matter)
The executive stated that their biggest challenge was guaranteeing business continuity and employee productivity. The fact that they couldn’t walk around the office and physically see their employee’s working made the leadership team very anxious causing them to now explore employee tracking solutions. (Think remote work tracking/spyware on everyone’s laptop to always be able to see if you are working or not)
The point I am trying to make is that remote work from the employer (or client) perspective shouldn’t be a: ‘’We are forced into this because for whatever reason so now we have to deal with it’’ nor should it be a ‘’ We might not be in the office but we are going to make it as if we are in the office’’.
By allowing your employees to work remotely everything changes. The big issue being: TRUST – you are (or should be) saying to your employees: We trust that you will do your job, when you need to do it, how you need to do it!
Remote work won’t ever be successful – actually let me rephrase that: You cannot have a successful remote working policy if the foundation of your employer/remote employee relationship isn’t based on trust!
And whilst employee tracking tools are on the rise and increasing in popularity I would strongly urge any remote business leader considering this to ask himself/herself the question: Why do I think I need this in the first place? Why can’t trust be enough?
Personally, I would never work for a company or client that would ask me to become part of a team that whilst remote is fully controlled… it is just not part of the remote DNA!
I know it is very cliche but at its core remote means freedom! Remote working to me is about having the freedom to do whatever you should be doing, whenever you want it to do whilst respecting the guidelines of who you are doing it for!
An example would be that I worked for a remote-first startup that allowed its entire team to work from anywhere in the world but you should be reachable between a specific set of hours!
Note that you did not have to actually work in those hours but this was just to make sure that if people needed to reach you or if you wanted to meet with a fellow team member you could always schedule meetings in that time block.
This also meant that if you decide to relocate to a destination that was well beyond the set time block if would be up to you to either get up early or stay awake late!
Beyond freedom remote working also means flexibility. You can schedule your work around your life and not the other way around!
You see, ultimately: I believe that remote working is all about happiness and balance. It is the logical consequence of the fact that if you can work from anywhere and you chose to do it from the place that brings you the most joy, then by default you should be more productive hence be a better employee!
And isn’t that what every company should strive for? Having a team of happy employees?
I have so much more to say on the topic of what remote work means to me and I recorded some of my thoughts in a podcast episode!
I would love it if you could check it out, have a listen and subscribe if you like what you heard!