I dare to say that remote work is going to be a big demand in the future job market. While spending the life in an office to build a career and earn a lot of money to then buy a house and a car is still a goal for many, the millennial generation and all the ones that follow are having a lifestyle in which other things matter more. With an easy access to internet and uncomplicated ways to travel we’re getting used to a dynamic lifestyle. Flexibility and independence are increasingly more important than stability and a high salary.
Many of us have family members and friends living in different countries, we take short holidays and love to discover new places. We’re keen on finding a balance between the working life and our free time. At the same time we can connect ourselves from anywhere with anyone, making communication easier and cheaper than ever before. So there is little doubt that jobs offering a flexibility of workplace and working time will be among the most demanded jobs in future.
Yet the job market hasn’t been able to keep up with these growing demands.
Why is remote work such a no-go for many companies?
Here are some possible reasons.
1. No other way
The character of the job requires you to work on a determined workplace. Yes, many jobs have this problem. Let’s be fair: if there’s no way there’s no way.
2. Lack of control
That’s a big one. Managers fear that when they can’t keep an eye on their people, they lose control. For many owners, bosses and leaders having control is like a drug – they can’t get enough of it and they can’t drop it. Letting go of control is tough and may seem like the manager’s power is being diminished. In short, the fear of losing control over what is going on makes companies reject home office requests.
3. Fear of low working morale and low productivity
This is a valid point, as it may happen when you let people work in their pyjamas. Not everyone can motivate themselves and keep a high employee morale. Without being constantly monitored some employees would perform less and worse. What’s funny is that there are employees who are constantly supervised and still run on minimum effort. And there are people working from home keeping their productivity high to maintain the job and the favourable conditions. So the question is: Do companies want to have employees that work only if they feel under control?
4. Communication issues
Yes, this can be an issue, as maintaining a good communication among other members of the team can be difficult. And if it’s already hard to get your message across when sitting next to your colleague, how difficult is it when you depend on email or Skype? I do believe that effective communication is possible when a company establishes communication rules that everyone has to respect. And who knows, if people need to think twice what to communicate and what not, we could avoid the some of the usual office blah-blah and the get the job done more quickly.
5. Training and meetings
Some people love them, some hate them. The key is to have meetings that are really needed, well organised and with clear objetives. And if they follow these rules, meetings and trainings can take place online as well.
6. Breaking old habits
Doing things differently and trying something new is especially hard for traditional businesses, large corporations or small family businesses. Stepping out of the comfort zone is a brave thing to do, but people often choose the known evil than the good yet to know. It’s a pity, but one of the reasons a company won’t enable you to work from home is that they just want to go on doing things they’ve always done.
Some managers will admit it, some won’t. The reality is that many companies are not well-managed and live in a constant chaos. This makes it impossible for their people to work from home. If you don’t know what your tasks or schedule for tomorrow is or when your company is famous for its high employee turnover, the company you work for may be a mess. And unless the mess turns into a system, forget working from home.
If there are valid reasons that make a workplace change impossible, there is no point in pushing for it. A lot of businesses could not exist without the physical presence of their workers. Startups have to establish a system first and need all hands on deck. I am sure there are more examples demonstrating that flexibility is difficult to grant. What I hope for is that those businesses that CAN become more flexible, will do so. Otherwise they might have to give up on their most valued workers – those who are not willing to renounce on their independence and who won’t stop fighting for a balance between their working life and a life outside the job.