Sacha Connor, founder of Virtual Work Insider – a consultant company that helps organizations transition into virtual work space – defines remote work spaces are organizations that work in geographically distributed environments.
Business opt for virtual work environment for several reasons. Having a remote workforce cuts back on real estate costs, which increases the profits of a business. Moreover, virtual work environments abolishes boundaries allowing employers to access a greater network to outsource a workforce.
According to Wuzzuf.net’s Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Ahmed Desouki, there has been a significantly higher demand for remote work opportunities.
Wuzzuf.net is a platform that bridges between employers and employees in Egypt. The data obtained from the platform reveals that there has been a 124 percent increase in the number of remote work job postings in 2016-2017. Similarly, the number of prospective employees applying to remote work opportunities in the respective years has increased by 144 percent.
This gives businesses the opportunity to hire the best talent across continents, while also offering those overseas access to opportunities with international cooperations that required on-premise workforce.
Desouki highlights that there has been a significantly higher demand for remote work opportunities. Wuzzuf.net is a platform that bridges between employers and employees in Egypt. The data obtained from the platform reveals that there has been a 124 percent increase in the number of remote work job postings in 2016-2017. Similarly, the number of prospective employees applying to remote work opportunities in the respective years has increased by 144 percent.
Remote work environments also eliminate the unconscious biases that employers may have when it comes to promotions and so forth. It gives all employees an equal access to all opportunities in the company while eliminating the hierarchal distribution- allowing an employer to speak directly to the CEO for example rather than having to speak to his or her manager, who then has to relay the message to the CEO.
A chance at freedom
The biggest advantage of remote work environments is that it overhauls employees’ power by giving them back their freedom and time. Remote employees are given back this “gift of time”, as Connor put it, where they can then choose to use this time to either learn new skills, leisure, travel, spend time with family and friends, or however they see fit.
For Tarek Kholousy, founder of Nomads Giving Back, working remotely gave him the ability and freedom to choose to live in a place with lower living costs with a higher quality of life. The founder of Nomads also observed that this freedom granted by working remotely gives employees the time to contribute to their community. “I found myself realizing that there are a lot of opportunities to mobilize collective power within the [remote working community] to give back to their community,” Kholousy notices.
It is important to note that remote work is not only limited to employees who “work from home”, but also includes business who operate from co-working spaces as well as other with who have distributed premises – such as separate floors for every department.
“Most companies do not recognize that they are already working with other office sites (internal and external to the company), and that is a relationship across distance,” Conner highlights.
To Connor, once companies acknowledge that their global offices and country-wide branches are too remote offices, they can establish the necessary leadership skills and tools to implement to an effective work relationships and personal relationships and a more effective business.
Working remotely: the drawbacks
Despite the popularity of national and international offices, many managers and business owners are more skeptical about remote working environments when it comes to hiring an off-premise workforce. The skepticism sprouts from distrust – distrusting that employees would do their job. On the other hand, many remote employees feel left out and distant from their other coworkers and the company culture.
However, Connor believes there are different ways to create a virtual environment that caters to the comfort for both employers and employees. One way to solve the distrust managers experience with their remote employee is through time tracking softwares, Liam Martin, co-founder of Running Remote – Time Doctor, suggests. This gives managers and employers a good understanding on how employees spend their working hours through a tracking system on their computers.
For employees who experience feelings of disconnection, the key really is to create a virtual environment where employees and employers can pick up on queues that reflect their feelings. Conner advocates for a video-first culture “meaning all meetings regardless of whether they one-on-one meetings, or group meetings, they should always use video if at all possible.” This personalized the interactions, and gives everyone an equal presence in the conversation.
Another tools employers can use to help remote co-works bond with each other and create personal relations is by having employees talk to one another via phone or video call for a specific time period while having coffee – this way they also receive those informal interactions they are often exposed to in an on-premise work environment.
Creating a virtual work environment and virtualizing company culture has been facilitated by several technological developments in softwares and applications such as Zoom, Slack, Buffer, and Time Doctor aimed to create a productive work environment amongst employees and employers.
The growing role of the internet has also played a significant role in allowing the possibility of “going remote”. Through stable and high speed internet connection, employers and employees can communicate instantly as though they are in the same office space.
Interestingly, not all industries have been shifting to remote work environments at the same pace. In Egypt, the IT and technology sector has been pioneering the transition to remote work environment along side the engineering sector, according to Desouki’s observations.
The creative field which includes art, content creation, and advertising, have also been transitioning towards hiring a remote workforce. On the other hand, all administrative jobs such as human resources still depend on “in-house” employees.
Understanding the future of work environments and virtual workspaces is essential to leave room for tech-developers to create software that will advance the work dynamic.
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