Technology has given humanity many wonderful things: rockets that fly to other planets; machines that scan bodies for illnesses; Jonny 5 from Short Circuit.
It’s thanks to technology and the advent of the internet that more employees and workers are working remotely. This YouGov poll suggests 30% UK workers were more productive working remotely, whilst the TUC said the number of people working remotely increased 19% in the ten years to 2016. To the naysayers, remote working remains a cheat’s charter and a license to clock in wearing in your PJs and knock off at 3pm. And, well, for some people it is. But for millions of others it’s an effective way of taking control of your working day and, by extension, your life.
On Wednesday 24 April, PLATF9RM is staging an event called The Magic Of Remote Working, where some fantastic guests will take us through their (remote) working lives. In advance, we asked them to give us a quick primer on the highs and lows of remote working. Read these before deciding if the office life ain’t for you...
Joanne Munro – The VA Handbook
I have a location-independent business model and I go away for five days to one-month stretches, with 2.5 weeks the sweet spot. I’m a curious person and it gives me freedom to meet new people in fascinating places. (The chance to avoid those brutal Brighton winters is obviously a huge bonus too!) Despite this somewhat peripatetic lifestyle, I wouldn’t classify myself as a digital nomad: I’m still settled in Brighton (I have a flat here) and use AirBnB and homeexchange.com to get cheap accommodation.
Anything with a high must have a low, right? Technical problems are very much all “on you”. Recently my laptop cable just decided to stop working in Trieste – a simple situation to amend when you’re in an office and can borrow a colleague’s, but tricky when you’re alone in a country where you don’t speak the lingo! Solitude can be a problem – you’re having these experiences but if you’re not with someone they can stay in your head. Fortunately, coworking spaces are opening everywhere and are good for meeting like-minded people. Big tip from me? Get a Priority Pass for airports. I never used to get any work done on travel days but now I can settle into airport lounges and get stuck in.
Laura Turner – Director of Altitude Camps
I decided to get out of the bubble that is the Alps, but wanted to continue running Altitude Camps – we organise summer camps in Verbier. I chose to work from the UK with catch-up trips back to Switzerland. This is essential to making it work for both sides – with technology we can still communicate really well, look at the same screen and everyone gets my support, but you can’t beat some (occasional!) facetime.
A major bonus? I now find that the team use their initiative more, trying to problem solve as I am not just the other side of the office. This develops their own understanding, skill set and allows them to take on more responsibility (as well as saving me time which is a benefit for everyone!).
There are some downsides: during peak weeks like New Year and half-term, I am not there to just jump in when things get busy with walk-in clients. I do also miss the social side of being in the office but that’s where PLATF9RM has been really nice*: it gives me the perfect combination of social chat and time to really focus on my own work.
*Laura wrote this of her own volition... pinky swear…
Cliff Ettridge – The Team
I want to tell you a story about cheese.
I love it.
In fact, pretty much anything dairy, and my will evaporates.
And so, working at home – close to my fridge – it’s a nightmare.
It’s cheese temptation gone mad, because there is nobody there to stop me. There’s nobody there to check my behaviour; to suggest a different approach; to bounce my ‘cheese problem’ about with.
And there you have it. For me, working alone, is an unhealthy diet.
As a London-based worker, working at home one day a week is a godsend from the commute. Time and again I used to tell colleagues that ‘working from home I get so much more done.’ Now, I can’t cite any research to support the claim I’m about to make, but in my reality, this is a load of baloney. I never used to get more done.
Why? Because I see work as a social activity.
As human beings we do mimic the behaviour of others. When we’re surrounded by people hard at work; people thinking; sharing ideas; getting excited on the phone, then we like to copy that. And when we’re with other people we can bounce ideas about, enjoy some laughter and, avoid the cheese. That’s my view.
As remote working increases – and Chief Financial Officers see the opportunity to drive down costs by pushing more workers into coworking spaces – then remote working is going to increase.
This means that the worker who is more aux fait with collaborative technologies – the early adopter – that will be the person that will thrive.
That’s why I am throwing myself into coworking and remote working – it’s the work of the future.
Tom Bailey – Brighton SEO
I've been a self-employed freelancer for the past 14 years. So self-directed remote / mobile working is the only real model I know now, and to be honest, I'm not sure how well I'd function in a more conventional office environment.
The Rough Agenda and the BrightonSEO team is built on this way of working, partly as it began as a sideline project itself, partly because it's fairly common in an event industry context, and also very much as a conscious decision by the MD about the way he wanted things to run.
There are loads of benefits; the team all balance the job with other work commitments, activities and/or childcare. It enables commitment from a skilled and experienced core team who might not be able to attach themselves to a more conventionally structured project. When people are empowered to take responsibility, it also creates a real sense of shared endeavour in it all - which is really what we're all after at the end of the day.
There are some challenges of course. Ambiguity of responsibility can be a problem, and everyone needs to accept that the odd thing is going to fall between the cracks. Also, some people find it an easier model to work with than others and you can feel isolated from time to time if you've not spoken out loud to another grown-up all day!
Read these other recent blogs from PLATF9RM Press