How the world's top firms have embraced the remote work model

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Office-phobes rejoice - remote working is quickly becoming the norm for 21st century workers! No longer do you have to deal with boring water-cooler chats, washing machine politics or the risk of having your lunch stolen from the fridge: the office of the future is based wherever you would like it to be.

Working from home as an acceptable use of your time - rather than a poor excuse to skip work - is becoming increasingly common, particularly with the advent of the gig economy and more part-time workers.

Indeed, the UK government recently reviewed laws which entitle workers to flexible working conditions after six months’ employment to allow for working remotely at any company.

That is not to say that the home-working revolution is just down to millennials who want more creature comforts, either: a 2016 survey of American remote workers found that 91 per cent of people feel they are more productive in their pyjamas than they are in an office, with the majority also more satisfied with their jobs and happier overall.

It can also save businesses thousands in office expenses and boost employee morale, improving retention and collaboration, while the Harvard Business Review found that home-workers even took fewer sick-days and vacation days than traditional, in-office employees.

Olympic Efforts

All of which explains why companies - and even countries - are increasingly looking into making remote working more commonplace.

The Japanese government, for one, is encouraging the country’s businesses to trial remote working schemes to combat burnout and overcrowding, which is predicted to be a huge problem when Japan hosts the 2020 Olympics.

From now until then, every 24 July the Japanese Telework Day will see many companies letting their workforce go completely remote. This year, 930 took part by working in their homes or in a public space, freeing up transportation and potentially making it easier for spectators, athletes and organisers to get around come 2020.

Beyond the advantages for the Olympics, says Takashi Kozu, president of the Ricoh Institute of Sustainability and Business and a backer of the project, is that companies are adapting to the changing lifestyles of younger generations, who are targeting a better work-life balance and standard of living.

Home-working heroes

It is also no surprise that with these benefits in mind some of the world’s largest businesses are jumping on this trend, particularly in the IT industry. According to a 2017 survey by Gallup, the tech industry is the second-keenest adopter of remote working.

One of this sector’s biggest players, Microsoft, has recently allowed its workers to collaborate remotely, particularly if their fellow team-members are not in the same office location.

According to Stacy Elliott, Microsoft’s executive communications director who has worked remotely for the past 14 years, being able to do this effectively is entirely down to a winning combination of virtual technologies.

“Technology tools are crucial to effective team communication, and they enable the “everywhere office” to work,” she explains.

This view is shared by Jennifer Newbill, director of global employment branding at Dell, another firm who have embraced remote work. She adds that apps that effectively integrate are crucial, such as chat client Slack or the Adobe suite, in order to foster “a team spirit and our company culture”.  

Tools of the trade

The suit of products necessary to allow workers to work from home in a secure, reliable and safe way can be extensive. A business broadband line and attached VPN services - such as hSo’s SSL VPN - can make sure that remote workers’ connection into the office is safe, at least.

Then there are VoIP or other phone programs which, in the case of programs like Skype, can lack for features or usability. Business solutions like hSo CloudPBX lets remote users make free calls into the office and redirect external calls to them, making it appear to the outside world like they’ve never left the office. Desktop and mobile apps can help with this.

One massive advantage of this, says Elliot, is that these tools mean company culture is shared seamlessly and is recorded for posterity - no nasty office politics to worry about.

“It's the way we share stories about what matters. These tools bring those stories to life and are accessible to all our employees," she adds.

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