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Remote Work Is Becoming More Mainstream, Data Shows

By Maurie Backman - Updated Jun 20, 2019 at 9:29AM

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It's time to get on board or risk falling behind.

Remote work arrangements are no longer limited to start-ups and trendy businesses looking to offer employees more flexibility. Not only do many large, well-known companies have remote work policies today, but according to Upwork's Future Workforce Report, the number of remote employees is only going to rise in time.

The report found that as younger generations move into management roles, remote work arrangements will steadily become more of a norm. In fact, 69% of millennial and Gen Z managers today allow team members to work remotely, compared to just 59% of Gen X managers and 58% of baby boomer managers.

Smiling man sitting on couch, typing on laptop.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Not only that, but younger managers are more likely to enlist the help of freelancers than older managers are. And freelancers, by nature, aren't bound to an office.

All told, 73% of employers will have some remote employees by the year 2028, according to the aforementioned report. And that's good news for workers and businesses alike.

Workers who spend the bulk of their week doing their jobs offsite are more engaged than workers who must report to an office, as per Gallup research. And 90% of employees say that the more flexibility they're given on the job -- including the option to work remotely -- the better it'll be for morale, according to the 2019 Staples Workplace Survey. Furthermore, employees who work remotely get to avoid the many distractions that come with office life, thereby making them more productive. And clearly, that's good for employers.

Get on board

If your company has long been opposed to remote work arrangements, it pays to reevaluate that position and hop on the bandwagon sooner rather than later. Doing so could not only help you retain talent but also open up a much wider pool of prospective hires, thereby helping your business excel.

Furthermore, remote work arrangements can lead to big savings on the employer end. If, for example, you're willing to hire freelancers, you'll pay only for output -- and that's a far better use of your financial resources than paying for full-timers who waste time during the workweek (which, let's face it, many of them do). Having at least a partially remote staff could also save you money on office space, equipment, and supplies.

Remember, you don't need to go from the extreme of banning remote work to adopting it across the board. Start by hiring remote workers for positions you've historically struggled to fill or ones that are appropriate for freelancers. Roles that aren't managerial in nature can often be pulled off successfully in a remote setting (though keep in mind that strong managers can do a fine job of overseeing staff remotely as well).

Additionally, consider letting your most trusted employees work remotely on a partial basis if that's what they're asking for. Doing so could help you avoid losing talent when those workers inevitably grow frustrated and start seeking out opportunities with more flexibility. The workforce on the whole is trending toward remote arrangements, and if you don't get on board, you really risk losing out.

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