The rise of remote working: How working patterns are being reshaped in the 21st century (Guest Blog)

The Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, are entering employment like we’ve never seen it before. The arrival and prolific expansion of cloud and mobile technology has meant we can conduct our work whenever and wherever we want. The traditional ‘9 – 5’ office slog is being replaced by a much more flexible working day, flexibility that is being lapped up by many employers and their workers. This article explores the rise of homeworking and how working patterns are being reshaped in the 21st century.

Remote working is on the rise

Employers and organisations are becoming increasingly aware that advances in technology and communications means we can conduct meetings and business proficiently virtually anywhere in the world. They are also becoming progressively more aware of the productivity-enhancing assets of remote working and the fact that without any daily commutes, teams can actually enjoy a more productive day working from the confines of their own homes or shared office spaces.

In fact, according to a survey by conference call centre provider Powownow, more than 50% of organisations now allow remote working. Amongst the primary attractions of allowing employees to work remotely is saving money through reduced office costs.
Such is the prevalence now given to remote working that according to research more Workplace Insight released in May this year, a quarter of UK workers would choose home working over a pay rise.

The same research found that a third of all organisations now offer some kind of flexible working. It’s safe to say that flexible, remote working has gone mainstream, significantly reshaping working patterns in the 21st century.

The benefits of flexible working both for employers and employees
So, besides the financial benefits employers make on office space and the productivity and the benefits gained through ending the daily commute, what are the other advantages of enabling employees to work from a location of their choice?

A better work/life balance

Having the freedom to choose when and where you work can, for many, help to create a better work/life balance. For example, for employees with a family, permitting flexible, remote working can enable them to be involved with the school run, take their children to the dentist or visit the gym, ‘luxuries’ that the ‘9 – 5’ working structure of yesteryear never allowed.

By being able to set their own hours and work when and where is convenient, employees that take advantage of remote working can often enjoy a greater work/life balance compared to working for eight or more set hours a day in a company office.

Alleviate stress and promote productivity

Turning up to work late, sweaty and stressed because what should have been a simple 20-minute commute turned out to be an hour, is hardly conducive with a relaxing start to the day and a productive day’s work. By contrast, avoiding the commute and the daily rush to get to a place of work for a specific time is much more relaxed and civilised, consequently creating a more stress-free and productive day at work.

Commercial benefits of remote working

With employees now holding remote working in greater esteem to pay rises, it stands to reason that organisations which do allow flexible working patterns are likely to have a happier workforce. And a more satisfied workforce means a more loyal set of workers, meaning business can enjoy greater staff retention.

Financial gains

With better staff retention, companies won’t have to spend money finding new employees and training them up and without expensive office overheads, organisations can save on expenses, thus saving money all round.

Flexible Working Awareness Day

So ubiquitous and widespread has remote, flexible working patterns become in the 21st century that there is now a day devoted to and in celebration of such new working structures.
Flexible Working Awareness Day took place on May 6 this year and is aimed at recognising those companies and individuals who promote the benefits of flexible working.
As the Awareness Days website informs, Flexible Working Day is designed to showcase ‘how flexible working works’ and its many advantages.

The rise of shared office space to cater for flexible working patterns
The modern demand for flexible working and the shifting working patterns have paved the way for shared office space. These communal office spaces enable companies, freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs to come and go at their leisure, make use of the equipment available, such as Wi-Fi, workstations and tea and coffee machines, as well as networking with like-minded individuals and generally take the loneliness out of homeworking.

Such shared ‘touchdown’ office spaces, which can be rented out on short notice, offer workers a more structured approach to remote working. For many businesses, these shared co-working spaces have become an important component in the new working structures we are embracing in the 21st century, as they enable face-to-face interaction amongst teams in a convenient location.

As Fresh Business Thinking writes:

“The most crucial consideration for firms looking to increase employee flexibility is the preservation of business continuity.”

Shared office spaces provide the business continuity, interaction and networking opportunities that can be lost in home offices and are consequently an important component of the flexible working patterns the 21st century is embracing.

This blog post was written by Hadyn Luke, Director at CMSVOC, specialists in delivering a range of government funded and commercial vocational training programmes across diverse sectors. CMSVOC is committed to helping people of all ages, backgrounds and industries, find the right course and training programme so they can progress in their chosen career or embark on a new career.