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Remote Workers In a Web Agency

There’s a new army mobilising in towns, villages and cities of our nation, and their numbers are rising. Every day, they contribute to the nation’s prosperity and growth.

In fact, dear reader, the author of this very article is one of them, performing super-human feats – well, OK, I’m actually lying on my bed with my iPad typing away in Microsoft Word!

That counts doesn’t it?

You maybe won’t know that they are there but, rest assured, thousands of British businesses couldn’t function without them. Cost-effective, productive and, in many cases, with a much-improved work-life balance, the remote homeworker is the future.

Especially where employers might look to cut costs to keep business competitive – less office space, less capital spend, lower communications costs. It could also be argued that by offering to allow staff to work from home, you’re increasing your recruitment area. Based in Dorset but the right person for the job is in the north west? Not a problem if they can work remotely.

In fact, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has said that by 2020 (yep, that’s next year) 50% of workers will be working remotely, fuelled, primarily by digital activity.

That means fast broadband, websites and applications that do more, and, of course, a tech-savvy population. The uptake of technology in every aspect of our lives is relentless, so why should work be any different?

So, why are remote workers the future, what’s in it for you and any employer? What about disadvantages?

It’s a well-known fact that people are more productive when they’re happy, comfortable and stress free. Where are most people happiest, most comfy and relaxed? At home, especially if they’re not thinking of the long commute into the office, in appalling weather, and they’re surrounded by familiarity.

This, along with a little self-discipline (I’m still working on that one), can result in a massive increase in productivity, which is a win-win for both employer and employee.

Greater job satisfaction, a feeling of being valued and, to some extent, being trusted to work remotely, enhances working life. In turn, this will result in lower staff turnover, stronger team-ethic and higher quality output.

Of course, there are downsides to everything, and home-based working is no exception.

Procrastination is perhaps the biggest threat to somebody who works from home. There are so many distractions that can creep in during the day – the temptation to have ‘one more coffee’ or an extra hour in bed in lieu of the morning commute, the TV, neighbours or friends who know you’re at home just calling for ‘a chat’ and, before you know it, you’ve passed an hour or two away.

The other downside can be social isolation – missing the contact with other people on a daily basis creeps up gradually (especially when the initial novelty has worn off) and can lead to loss of productivity.

Ensuring efficiency

Fortunately, this can be offset by (often) easy to implement solutions.

Let people know that although you’re at home, between certain hours of the day, you can’t be disturbed – you need to work to pay your bills and your employer has given you the privilege and trust to get things done from home – don’t abuse it. This is doubly important if you work for yourself and aren’t salaried.

Skype, Asana and regular group calls can be used to create a sense of belonging and inclusion. As most places in the UK have reasonably fast broadband these days, online meetings, seminars, video-calls and secure file sharing and collaboration are all perfectly possible.

Here at Dorset Tech (and the wider Honest Tech Group), we use a special time tracker that takes screenshots of us doing the work, ensuring that we’re working when we say we are. In all my years of remote working, this piece of software has been the biggest motivator!

Chris Ryu "Chameleon"

Chris has been a developer for over 15 years. Known for his unique experience crosses over many fields.

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