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How effective is remote working?


How effective is remote working?
12th April 2017

by Shannon Greenhalgh

With the emergence of millennials in the workplace, so too comes their penchant for technology and desire for a better work-life balance. But just how effective is remote working and can collaboration platforms, efficient servers and flexibility improve an organisation?

A recent study by Polycom, titled 'The Human Face of Remote Working', which surveyed some 25,234 professionals across 12 countries, attempted to answer some of these questions. Over the course of the research, Polycom found that collaborative technologies in the workplace and remote working not only boosted productivity, but also improved the morale of staff and interpersonal relationships.

Nearly all (98%) of the respondents said that collaborative technologies, such as video conferencing, made it easier to make friends, get to know one another and build relationships with co-workers. Half of those said that they now know colleagues better due to video conferencing.

As Polycom CEO Mary McDowell commented: "We predicted that 2016 would be the 'year of video', and it's satisfying to know that people are starting to adopt this way of working. What it also tells us is that more businesses need to be able to offer collaboration tools – to enable that human contact that people crave – or risk losing out to those businesses who are able to offer flexibility and have access to talent and retain talent as a result."

Remote working – when paired with the right technologies and digital solutions – was also found to increase productivity. In a study conducted by Stanford professor Nick Bloom, it was found that remote workers were not only more productive than they would be in the office, but also worked longer hours, got more done and took fewer breaks than they would usually. Not to mention, remote working was also tied to lower absentee rates and, on average, happier personnel.

"There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet studies prove that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about," said Jeanne Meister, partner at Future Workplace.

However, remote working also opens up a range of issues, namely security threats as the nature of having secure data in more than one digital location can make it more vulnerable. Whether work networks are stored within a company-built platform or on the cloud, effective firewalls and heightened cyber security are essential.

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