A narrative has taken hold over the past few years that asserts that the future of work will be dominated by robots, AI programs, and other technological marvels that strip humans entirely away from the workplace. Despite all the hubbub being raised over certain new technologies, however, the future of work is increasingly going to be dominated by remote working, which is quickly taking hold around the globe thanks to the productive results it delivers to business owners.
Here's why the future of work is remote, and why so many companies around the world are rushing to let their employees work from wherever works best for them.
Remote employees are simply more productive
The biggest driver of the pivot to a remote workforce that's currently under way is that remote employees simply produce better results than their traditional counterparts. While many critics of remote working used to assert that letting employees work from home would drain them of their productive spirit, the past few years have produced conclusive evidence that employees who spend a bulk of their working hours outside of the office are vastly happier and more productive.
Recent research from Gallup, for instance, notes that those workers who spend about three to four days of the week working offsite are substantially more engaged in their jobs than traditional counterparts who are stuck behind desks all day. The logic behind this productivity boost is actually quite easy to understand; by giving workers more control over their personal lives and permitting them to schedule their work-life balance accordingly, companies are making them happier and more fulfilled as they enable Average Joes to become workplace superstars.
The IoT is merging workspaces and living spaces
As Jacob Morgan recently posited in his book The Future Of Work, the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving companies everywhere to produce products and services that cater directly to consumers while they're enjoying the comforts of the home. Smart thermostats, AI home assistants, and interconnected electric systems have made the modern household a "smart home," which is why it's so easy for most workers to plug directly into their workspace while they're sitting in their kitchens.
Morgan accurately noted that companies everywhere simply have an easier time finding talent that's willing to work from home right now than ever before; the big data revolution and the rise of the ubiquitous IoT effectively created the gig economy we're all so familiar with these days. Now, if a small business or a major corporation needs to rely on a select expert, they turn to the web and start searching for an independent freelancer who can get them the information they need at an affordable price.
The era of convenience has arrived
Thanks to the fact that more and more people are working remotely, consumers everywhere can say hello to a new era of convenience. With freelance workers and remote employees able to more precisely adjust their scheduling, customers will be able to find an expert on demand at any time of the day. While most businesses close their doors at 5 p.m. or shortly thereafter, the remote workforce is effectively always available. There will be some challenges to this, naturally; work-related stress may increase, for instance, and employees who are working from home will need strict discipline to master work-life balance as the lines between the home and office get blurry.
Nonetheless, the benefits of the remote workforce mean that in the near future, we'll likely see more leaders in a wide variety of industries embracing the concept, especially as automating technologies and cheaper software makes it easier for employees to accomplish great things from far away. Before remote working is universally accepted, however, business owners and everyday workers will need to come together to forge a new work style that accommodates the needs of a distributed workforce.
Implementing a remote work policy
Organizations looking to implement a remote work policy for their company should start with a few basic steps. First and foremost, make sure your workers are equipped with the three things they need to succeed: adequate technology, disciplinary excellence, and clear instructions.
Make sure your workers have a laptop, tablet, or desktop that can help them tackle their tasks, and consider investing in a companywide software sponsorship program that lets them install important software directly to their personal devices so that they can use them for business, too.
Next, it's imperative that you stress disciplinary excellence; workers at home don't have a manager peering over their shoulder, so they have to act as their own boss and maintain a strict schedule to get things done. Don't try to dictate every aspect of their lives -- remote work is effective because it offers workers flexibility, after all. Nonetheless, be sure that you're requesting regular status updates, and that you have a system in place to measure productivity.
Finally, never let your workers wander alone -- make sure they have clear instructions and achievable milestones that guide them as they work from the comfort of their home. This is perhaps the most important step for you, as it's where you'll be demonstrating your leadership by giving concise yet clear instructions that can be carried out even if you're not present to immediately answer questions.
Do this while placing faith in your remote workers, and your business will soon be a thriving, cutting-edge organization.
This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.com.