A remote workforce is an empowered workforce, says a recent survey conducted by human capital management (HCM) company Ultimate Software. As providers of cloud-based employee management solutions, they are seeing changes in how people are going about their jobs and wanted to learn more about the remote workers they help support.
Ultimate Software surveyed 1000 employees nationwide about their experiences working both in-office and in the virtual equivalent. It's a fast-growing segment of the working population and with 23 percent of America's labor force working remotely at least part of the time, telecommuting is here to stay. For those workers who benefit from remote-work options, they report feeling less stressed (50 percent to 19 percent) and more supported (74 percent and 64 percent) than their colleagues who work strictly onsite, respectively.
In fact, 88 percent of the remote workers surveyed reported higher levels of job satisfaction than their office-bound counterparts. In a survey that tech firm Buffer conducted with 2,500 remote workers across the country, they found that 40 percent said that a flexible work schedule was the biggest benefit to their virtual work arrangement. Others said they valued being able to work from other locations and time with family.
Iwo Szapar, CEO and co-founder of Remote-How, a provider of remote-work HR and training solutions, shared his thoughts on the shifting demographics in today's workforce. "[E]mployees in their 20s and mid-30s value meaningful experiences more than possessions, and they want to be able to pay attention to all the important aspects of their lives."
Despite the many advantages, researchers have identified certain challenges that come with working remotely. In 2017, the UN International Labor Organization and Euro fund jointly published a report on the impact of information and communications technologies have had on everyday work and life. Drawing from data gathered from the EU28 and other countries, they realized there was a tendency for virtual workers to put in longer hours than the average employees. Ultimate's survey showed a similar trend with 25 percent of workers reporting they worked beyond their set hours every day.
Fortunately, companies are keen to stay connected to their workers and communication could be the key to managing some of these virtual challenges. While the personal touch might be important for some, those surveyed didn't believe that face-time was necessary for building a good employer/employee relationship. Several tech options exist to help support this process and managers want to learn more.
According to Ultimate's report, 73 percent of managers offered feedback to remote employees once a week compared to the in-office equivalent edging in at a 2 percent advice-given advantage – 75 percent. Leaders are expressing interest in having more insight into their workers' worlds and believe that technology can offer them solutions. For example, 70 percent of those in supervisory roles stated that anonymized worker feedback software would be helpful. Another 57 percent said yes to more regular communication channels and 32 percent favored more intervention from other team members and/or HR.
Ultimate Software's chief of human resources Annmarie Neal believes the data shows that remote workers feel generally positive about their work-life but that there is still room for improvement. "The data in this new report shows us remote workers are not only being treated equally, they're thriving – and a big part of that is thanks to the emergence of HR-focused technology that enables seamless connection between the office and virtual employees," Neal said.
"As an HR technology company motivated by improving the employee experience for all people, we're excited to see that remote employees report high job satisfaction and potential for growth – and we're also inspired by the areas of improvement revealed in the data. The future of work is here, and it's up to HR to lead the way to a better employee experience, no matter where people work," she added.