Collaboration Tools: Making Remote Workers Even Better
June 24, 2014
By Steve Anderson
, Contributing TMCnet Writer
While there were many for a long time that believed that telecommuting could never really take off, the naysayers appear to have lost out, as the telecommuting—now more commonly referred to as “remote working”--field is making some big strides. While it's had its share of setbacks, particularly at places like Yahoo, remote working is still a major part of the field, and new information released from Esna.com around this shows not only how powerful remote workers can be today, but also what happens when said workers get the right collaboration tools involved.
First, some general numbers to show the market at hand. There are around 4.6 billion people in the global workforce, and of that number, 20 percent telecommutes. That's a substantial number by any stretch; one in five of about five billion is almost a billion. 29 percent split time between home office and its regular equivalent, while 10 percent work from home all the time.
These numbers are greatly skewed by region, with the Asia-Pacific region comprising the largest number of workers working from home one day a week at 12 percent. The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) comes in next at seven percent, and America chips in five percent. Company size also tends to skew numbers, as in companies with more than 2,500 employees, 77 percent allow at least some kind of remote working.
There have always been concerns about productivity, however, and the numbers tend to show that this may not be such an issue. Almost two thirds—65 percent—of employees report having better productivity when working remotely, and almost two thirds—64 percent—would be willing to take a pay cut in order to work from home. Better yet, employees that can telecommute can often work from home in the event of bad weather, a development that's costing employers steadily more. In 2012, the U.S economy suffered an estimated $46 billion in damage due to weather. In 2013—the year of the polar vortex—that number shot up to $125 billion, though for the global economy.
Yet even employees have concerns about productivity. 57 percent of Asia-Pacific respondents, 55 percent of EMEA, and 54 percent of employees in the Americas were concerned about having sufficient opportunity for collaboration even when not in the office, and 40 percent of Asia-Pacific, 37 percent of Americas, and 32 percent of EMEA employees noted concerns about having access to company information and being involved in team activities due to remote working.
That's where the proper use of collaboration tools comes into the picture. Using videoconferencing systems, Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) systems and similar measures allow employees to have that commonly needed “face time” with other employees and employers alike, which in turn allows access to issues of company politics, company policy, and sufficient self-promotion to get ahead at work. Tools like those offered by Esna, meanwhile, allow for that always-important connection between the home office and its more standard equivalent, while still allowing access to the flexibility and benefits that remote workers have come to enjoy at work.
Remote working can't exist in a vacuum. Without careful consideration of accountability and productivity, and the correct tools, the benefits to both worker and employer cannot be realized. But with these tools and these traits in place, there's quite a bit of advantage that can be had, on all sides.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi