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And it’s obviously not just a UK phenomenon as freelancers now account for more than 50 million workers in the United States which is 4 million more than five years ago.
However, while freelancers and remote workers are not necessarily the same thing, there is now more incentive than ever for companies to embrace the concept of working from home and hiring freelancers to get the job done.
But what does this mean exactly?
Well, freelancers are not always committed to a particular employer in the long term whereas companies will sometimes enable permanent employees to work remotely. As for the incentive, the deployment of freelancers and remote work is increasingly shown as a key enabler when it comes to efficiency, innovation and financial success.
For many people, the corona-virus situation is a taste of things to come. That is to say, remote work is most certainly on the rise but a recent requirement to self-isolate and “work from home” has brought this concept forward for much of the workforce. And we can even learn a few things from the early stages of this very unusual way of life.
You see, a recent report has highlighted a reduction in the amount of air pollution as a result of the corona-virus pandemic. As part of this outline, the BBC went on to explain how the absence of traffic in London and New York has significantly improved the quality of air in both cities. After all, remote work requires fewer people to travel a great distance for work and avoid any form of motorised transport at the very least.
Needless to say, it begs the question: can remote work help save the environment?
It’s a rhetorical question.
In terms of the “why”, we already know that advanced technology has created windows of opportunity for remote work. Video calls, file sharing and other software has even eclipsed the efficiency and convenience of in-person interactions. But there are still important questions to answer: what motivates employees to work on their own accord and is working from home likely to decrease or increase productivity?
In many ways, our recent challenges with corona-virus might just be a silver lining not only for the environment, but also for the future of remote work. After all, the rest of this article should support how a work from anywhere policy can benefit a company, while giving employees a greater sense of freedom, independence and overall happiness.
Firstly, surveys show that most freelancers love what they do and make a conscious decision to work independently. For this reason alone, it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to remote work and shunning a conventional way of living.
More specifically, most freelancers cite “flexibility” and the freedom to choose their own working hours as being an immense advantage. What’s more, these individuals are rewarded for the extent of work or effort involved, rather than a flat rate they might receive from an employer. And then there’s variety, for remote work enables freelancers to work from multiple locations as opposed to being confined to the same work-space.
On the other hand, not everything is rosy. Freelancers are solely responsible for their earnings, and without the security that comes with a basic wage. At the same time, companies can reassure such freelancers by providing security in the form of a contract.
When it comes to remote workers in general, there is also the question of productivity. More specifically, companies are often concerned that employees might not act with integrity and take responsibility for their work, which is sure to reduce their productivity.
But freelancing and even the perception of remote work has changed immensely…
It’s true, the thought of freelancers conjured up images of substandard work and missed deadlines for employers. However, instant messaging and video conferencing has created an important bridge for communication, while remote work policies have enabled these companies to save money and increase productivity at the same time. In terms of accountability, there is also software such as Hubstaff which helps to monitor the online activity of employees.
For example, research shows that teleworkers in British Telecom are up to 40% more productive when they can work from home. What’s more, this article states how the average employee loses 759 hours per year due to workplace distractions. Meanwhile, across the water, IBM and Sun Microsystems slashed more than $110 million(£89m) of their real estate costs as a result of embracing the concept of remote work.
With this in mind, we have also spent many years recruiting professionals from all over the world. During this time, we found many advantages and disadvantages but nothing different to what you might find offline. In other words, disappointment is common when the wrong candidates get hired but careful recruitment can help avoid this situation.
Moral of the story? We find that more and more companies are now open to remote workers and employing freelancers that can get the job done faster and better, for less.
It would seem that the concept of remote work is still a fruitful ground for certain paradoxes. Companies want to save time through automation but then fear the consequences of providing freedom and responsibility in return. Meanwhile, remote work can remove the need for real estate and encourage employees to significantly increase their level of productivity. And then there’s this data about freelancers and the benefits of working from home: the corona-virus is proving that remote work is the future.