Nowadays, we can connect from anywhere in the world, check emails after dinner, and answer calls from our bosses on weekends away. We’ve never been more available, which naturally can become both a blessing and a curse. Add into the mix the fact that now one in five businesses are adopting remote working practices (according to the Wundamail State of Remote Work 2019). In the remote working culture, there are facts business owners need to know.

The workplace culture is changing. You may be a manager working with remote teams or if you’re interested in working remotely yourself.

Here are some discoveries to consider before you take the plunge. About the survey: 2500 remote workers surveyed were represented. Included were regions across the UK, ethnic background, socio-economic status, gender, and inclusion of both high-income and low-income bracket workers.

The respondents in the Wundamail list worked for teams of three or more, across a range of blue-chip enterprises, large companies, and micro-businesses. They surveyed a nationally representative sample to gauge the benefits and challenges facing remote British workers today.

74% of remote workers state that they believe they’re more productive remotely than they would be in an office environment. 

Being more productive is a finding that might come as a shock to a lot of office-based managers. Whenever we think of remote workers, it seems to conjure up images of people slumped on the sofa catching up on Netflix. Some see an image of sitting in paradise, trying not to spill cocktails over their laptop.

The reality is very different, with remote workers often working from home offices, co-working spaces, or local coffee shops. The productivity could stem from the lack of distractions that comes with working alone. Even in a coffee shop, interactions are limited, leaving the worker to get on with the task at hand.

60% of remote workers feel their contributions are valued highly within their team.

71% of those asked had received all forms of praise and recognition via communication technology. Another misconception is that remote workers are isolated, disengaged, or cut off from company culture. Indicated in much research is that many of these prevailing notions are unfounded, mainly when companies prioritize good quality online communication.

Managers with a remote team will want to ensure that their communication is up to the challenge. When company culture is shared and embedded early on, it means that any employee can embody your business’s vision and get behind it. Most managers and business owners wish to achieve a great culture, and your remote team can be part of your business culture.

42% felt they lacked support daily — compared to their regular office counterparts.

Without proper support from managers, it can be difficult for remote workers to feel like they’re part of the team. Often a remote team doesn’t feel their work is being appreciated. Let’s face it — a remote team gets sick of hearing about all the fabulous stuff those “in office peeps” do. Look back through your office messaging system.

By setting up regular, easy-to-use communication channels with your remote team, you offer the opportunity for them to reach out for support if they need it. Even if they don’t utilize the support, it’s beneficial for them to know that it’s always an option.

With the growing communication and team management tech now available, there’s no reason for remote workers to feel less supported than their office counterparts.

61% admitted they did not feel “part of the team” to the same extent as regular office workers.

Whether or not remote workers feel like “part of the team” or not comes down to company culture. When you work remotely, it can be easy to feel like a freelancer rather than a team member. It’s essential to morale and overall productivity and quality of work that all employees to feel like they’re all working towards a common goal.

Remote workers might not be able to get involved in office events, but in the bigger picture, such as goal setting, adding in your remote team achievements are as important as the in-office team. It’s a matter of great communication and organizational skills — two things that any good manager or business owner should have in spades.

55% reported that their manager or “does not fully understand what I do each day.”

Over half of remote workers don’t believe that their manager understands their role in a day-to-day capacity. Let that sink in for a moment. As a manager, you should be able to guide your employees through their daily tasks. If you don’t understand what they’re doing or how they work, how can you hope to achieve this?

Once again, it comes down to a lack of consistent communication between remote team members and their managers. The knowledge barrier can be simply rectified by organizing regular update sessions via digital communication channels.

Using face-to-face communication helps your remote worker share their progress on different projects. The whole in-office team should be able to see and converse with the remote team monthly. As a manager, you can ask questions and learn more about their process. You’ll know what your team members do on a day-to-day basis, allowing you to lead them more efficiently going forward.

34% of respondents admitted that they had “previously taken advantage of the lack of supervision” remote working offers, and 66% admitted that they “had been tempted to push the boundaries” in the past. 

Having a remote employee take advantage may be the biggest fear of business owners and managers alike. They are oh so scared that they’re being taken for fools by remote workers. While a third of those asked admitted taking advantage of the lack of supervision — almost twice as many resist the temptation to do so.

Some feel they can get away with more when the boss isn’t around. The same stats exist for office-based workersas for remote workers. If the manager is up in their office, are you always working on what you’re supposed to be? Do you have social media in another tab, or keeping one eye on the latest scores?

Most workers reported that taking advantage only happened when they were first remote workers.

If this is a concern, then embedding the progress update process will help to ease your mind. If an employee knows they’re going to be asked what they’ve been up to that day, they’re less likely to take advantage. Most workers reported that taking advantage only happened when they were first remote workers and that it didn’t happen once they got used to their routines.

74% of respondents reported that “communication technology improves my overall productivity.”

A reassuring statistic for managers and business owners looking to switch to a more remote workforce is that the productivity raises. Communication technology is the primary way in which managers and remote workers stay in touch. Having these tools at hand improves productivity and is hugely beneficial.

Having communications channels that both the manager and the remote worker can rely on is vital. Often, office-based communication can go off on tangents, leading to a less productive working environment. With remote working and communication technology, this is not the case.

15% reported, “I find communication technology distracting or disruptive.” A further 14% said they “find communication technology stressful.”

Even though 74% of respondents found that communication technology does indeed improve their overall productivity, some do still find it a struggle. Many of the respondents identified with more than one option, suggesting that remote workers find communication technology simultaneously productive, but also distracting or stressful.

Communication should be limited to once a day or in emergencies, via a forum, or by employing a communication tool that can be muted. There’s nothing worse than notifications pinging when you’re really trying to focus.

With so many remote workers, it’s time to adapt and prepare for the upcoming cultural shift. Having these insights are key in ensuring that you can make informed decisions and offer the most efficient and successful remote working experience to your employees.

Rebecca Crowe

Rebecca is a currently a content writer for Diskette Ltd. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, wine tastings and writing about it on her blog, Wandering and Wine.