Are Remote Workers More Productive?

The Ability to work remotely is increasing. . While having the ability to work from outside of a corporate office has been feasible for a few decades, working remotely is only now becoming mainstream.

 You may have even heard the phrase tossed around in casual conversation: “I’m working remotely now!” or “I’ve been able to travel and take my job with me!” You nod your head as you listen to these people who have the flexibility of their lifestyles and the benefits that they’ve seen in their professional lives because they can work remotely.

Benefit #1 - Attract top Talent

This gives you more recruitment opportunities as you are not limited to finding team members who live within your area.  During your selection process you are not limited to geographical location.

Benefit #2 Reduce Employee Turnover

 I was reading a remote working report conducted by OWL Labs; which disclosed the 2017 statics around employee absenteeism and turnover.  Did you know that there was 27% lower turnover with companies and businesses that use remote working practices?  In the survey OWL Labs also discovered that 52% of employees are currently working remotely at least once a week.

Small to medium sized businesses and companies are more likely to hire remote workings twice as much as a large company.

 Flexibility and convenience whilst working remotely, decreases the pressures around running late for meetings due to unexpected delays whilst travelling, or not able to attend work due to a sick child, or simply when unexpected life events crop up.

Replacing highly trained employees can cost the business or company twice their annual salary. That would include the recruitment procedures, time to find the right fit and also the on boarding and training up of the new employee. That’s right, If you are paying $80,000 annual salary for an employee and they leave; it will cost you up to $160,000 to replace them.  

Benefit #3 - Cut down on Costs

Paying for office real estate is a huge overhead that comes out of your profits. Having remote workers will reduce the amount of space required in simply having a office that provides the working environment for all of your team members.

Other overheads include computer equipment, office furniture, electricity, phones, air conditioning costs, heating costs; and lets not forget the ongoing maintenance along the way. Reducing costs will increase your profits significantly immediately.

Benefit #4 - Improved Productivity

 Having a good remote working system will place will increase your productivity. There is less distractions when you are working remotely. In fact it is not uncommon for remote workers to work longer hours as they are not required to waste time travelling to and from work. If they have a good structure on how to work remotely, then they are more engaged with having this privilege.

A skill set that is essential for remote workers is understanding time management. I would highly recommend this type of training that will increase their effective planning of tasks and tracking results.

These benefits for remote workers are significant. Of course, the business or company is required to provide support and structure to help their remote workers. These benefits will not occur if the remote worker is left completely alone and isolated.

I remember a time when I worked for a group as a remote worker. I felt completely isolated, the systems were not supportive, no communication, computer equipment was outdated, and it was a nightmare. At the end of the six months; I was out of there. It was extremely difficult as nothing was documented, and I did not have access to the information that I required. Being a remote worker, you can’t just turn to your colleague that normally sits beside you to ask questions.  If you have remote workers then you as a business or company still have a duty of care in supporting them.


  The benefits that I have mentioned above are supported by strategic planning; providing a sense of direction and outlining the results that the company or business are striving towards. Therefore, exploring any challenges that may come up is also a key factor of success. Evaluating and Measuring processes also need to be considered; overcoming any barriers; whilst maintaining forward momentum.

Challenges that Remote Workers Experience


The benefits that I have mentioned above are supported by strategic planning; providing a sense of direction and outlining the results that the company or business are striving towards. Therefore, exploring any challenges that may come up is also a key factor of success. Evaluating and Measuring processes also need to be considered; overcoming any barriers; whilst maintaining forward momentum.


Below are 4 Challenges and ways of overcoming them for you to consider when setting up your remote workers framework and supporting your existing remote workers.


Challenge # 1: Maintaining Good Communication


Lack of communication is one of the major factors around conflict within the workplace.


This is increased when you bring into the equation of someone working remotely.  Consider the impact that different time zones have as well. Work progress is affected along with morale when there is not an effective communication process in place.

The Solution:

Take advantage of cloud-based technology. There are a lot of tools out there to support remote workers such as slack, Zoom, Google hang outs and Skype to name just a few.


These are far better tools then just email, as you can easily have a two-way conversation using video along the way.


Project management tools available are Trello and Asana which will help the whole team to collaborate effectively; being able to see the  current activity status from all team members on that project.


Ensure all your files are uploaded onto cloud and they can be downloaded by your remote workers. This is where having good filing processes in place is essential so that files can be located easily. Documentation and filing outlines need to be in place.


Hold regular check in calls or meetings for all of your remote workers to attend.  I hold meetings with my remote team weekly; simply to check in and continue to build relationships with my team; whilst demonstrating that they play a valuable and important role within my business. Remember relationship building is essential.


Schedule blocks of time that everyone needs to be online. This will help when you are wanting to touch base or gain some information that has become urgent.

Challenge #2: Unclear Expectations and  No Tracking Performance


Communicating boundaries and expectations will remove confusion; whilst ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Your remote worker needs to understand your expectations and their responsibilities.


What kind of decision marking authority do they have? Do they have clear roles and guidelines?  Who do they report to? What processes and systems do they need to follow?


What is the right balance of checking in; before it becomes micromanaging? All these conversations will help your remote worker to understand expectations and responsibilities.

The Solution:

Have those expectation conversations with your remote workers; along with establishing their goals and tracking metrics that will be required.


When armed with the right information, your teams will be more engaged; along with a clear direction of what needs to be achieved.

Use cloud-based time tracking and project managing software. This will motivate your team members; whilst keeping focused on achieving results.


Ensure when you are going through the recruitment process that you are selecting the person who is the right fit for their position.  Look for qualities such as self – discipline, innovation, integrity, honesty and independence.

Challenge #3: Exclusion and Isolation


It is important to remember that remote workers are part of your teams. Remote Workers can feel isolated,under valued and have less opportunities to develop strong relationships with colleagues and other team members. It is your role to help them feel included and part of the team.

The Solution:

Explore opportunities for them to connect with other team members. Perhaps once a year you hold a retreat, or an event were everyone is invited to attend. Always good to have a yearly retreat to explore new directions for the next year; along with encouraging everyone to get to know each other.


Delegate a project out to a few of your remote workers to collaborate. Working together on a small project will increase synergy. 


Use the water cooler conversation strategy. Reach out to individual team members regularly to solicit opinions on decisions that you are making and to just chat about non related things. Set some time aside each week just to stay connected with your remote workers.

Challenge #4: Maintaining a Learning and Development Culture


It can be difficult at times to gather all team members to attend workshops and events that will increase their skill levels and maintaining a positive attitude.  When we throw remote workers into the mix, it can become even more difficult.


 I was chatting to a CEO of a company; on the plane a few weeks again as I was just returning from running a live workshop for a company in Barcaldine.


The conversation was about him having to take 3 days off; just to attend a one-day conference. You see as he was in a remote town there was only one plane per day that could take him to Brisbane.


The day to travel, one day to attend, then one day to return. He was really frustrated; however, he recognized the importance of attending this conference to meet other colleagues and continue his own professional development.


The Solution:

Start to utilize online training courses along with follow up live coaching sessions.


On Demand training is becoming more attractive to businesses and companies today. Some of the advantages of on demand training is that it is self-paced with the convenience of doing the training at t a time and location that suits the individual.


It also provides the flexibility of reviewing the information and being available for those who would have missed out on face to face training. Combining on demand training with live coaching forums will also give individual support to your remote workers.


How many times do team members attend a training program; come back motivated; and after a couple of days the motivation has evaporated with no implementation taking place? This is where the follow up coaching becomes invaluable. As the team member starts to learn new skills; they are supported and encouraged with accountability during this stage.


Outsourcing this strategy will continue to grow your team’s skills, whilst freeing up your time to focus on the tasks that you need to prioritize.

Check out our Programs that combine Training with Coaching

Visit my Website and find out more information around my  On Demand Programs that include follow up support.


Let's chat around your Professional Development Needs for your Teams and Leaders.  


All the Best in Business


Cheers 


Lee Stemm  - Executive Coach | Trainer | Business Strategist 

  • July 5, 2019

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