Agile Remote Work - Is It the Future?
The pandemic may have accelerated the worldwide trend of working remotely, but the concept traces its roots back to the 1970s. Amidst the oil crisis of 1973, Jack Niles, a NASA engineer, pitched the idea of telecommuting as an alternative to the central office. Fast-forward to 2020, and 88% of businesses worldwide went remote during the pandemic—with 74% of them planning to shift at least some teams to permanent remote.
Remote work is the future of work. Yet like any cultural transformation, this global shift comes with benefits, drawbacks, and challenges as companies learn to adapt to a changing workplace. Simply recreating the old office in a virtual setting will no longer suffice as more companies continue to recruit and hire remote employees worldwide.
Fortunately, as the global workforce evolves, so do the organizational strategies that companies use to manage their teams. At Vistatec, we take an agile remote approach, enabling us to adapt and pivot on ever-changing conditions. This article explores the pros and cons of an agile remote workplace and how Vistatec leads the charge.
Table of Contents
What Is Agile Work?
Before diving into the benefits and drawbacks, we need to define agile work.
The proliferation of cloud-based technology has been driving the flexible work trend. Employees can choose when and where they work. Agile work is similar but has one key difference, it lets employees work anytime, anywhere and empowers them to decide how they would like to work.
Unlike flexible work, agile work is multidimensional. This organizational strategy prioritizes efficiency over schedules and locations. The idea is that work is an activity, not a place. As a result, agile work builds a company culture and employee mindset that fosters innovation, efficiency, and productivity.
The Benefits of Agile Remote Work
Given its growing popularity, it should be no surprise that agile remote work offers several benefits to employers and employees. Below is a look at just five:
Larger talent pool.
Companies that create remote positions are no longer limited to hiring employees who live within commuting distance. Depending on the role, they may hire someone on the other side of the world—without going through the visa process or paying relocation costs.
Remote work reduces overhead by enabling companies to rent a smaller office space or even forgo the office altogether. Many startups are choosing to go all-remote instead of a central office.
Better for the environment.
Fewer commuters and smaller offices translate into several environmental benefits, including lower emissions and less energy consumption.
Higher employee satisfaction.
Employees empowered to decide when, where, and how to work report higher job satisfaction. That means agile remote work can lead to higher retention rates and the fifth benefit on the list.
. Employee satisfaction links with higher productivity. Coupled with agile work’s focus on productivity, it can significantly gain companies that adopt the strategy.
As you can see, the benefits of this approach make it well worth it. But it does take some effort on the company’s part to ensure an agile global business runs smoothly.
The Drawbacks of Agile Remote Work
Like organization strategy, agile remote work does have its drawbacks. Yet, with careful planning, most, if not all, can be overcome. Below are the three most common and how companies can address each.
Different Time Zones
. Communicating promptly can be a significant challenge when team members work different schedules in other regions. You can make it clear when something requires a response ASAP. Reducing the number of meetings and the number of people who attend can also minimize scheduling conflicts. Consider sending out meeting notes afterward instead.
Global teams are often multilingual and can make it difficult to communicate internally. Several conferencing platforms offer interpretation features, and meeting hosts can invite an interpreter to help multilingual teams communicate.
Workplace cultures and employment laws vary worldwide, making it challenging to create a unified company culture. Companies can modify theirs based on employees’ locations. By collaborating with their Human Resources departments, managers can develop solutions that work for everyone.
Agile Remote Work at Vistatec
At Vistatec, we understand the challenges and the rewards of developing an agile remote work environment. For the past twenty-five years, we’ve operated remotely in some capacity and have learned to adapt as technology and global work culture change. Today, how we work increasingly depends on how we want to work, so an agile strategy is a good fit for our growing global team.
So, how do we ensure that employees worldwide remain happy and productive? We regularly conduct surveys to gain insight into their work preferences. Here’s what we found:
- Full-time working from home isn’t ideal for everyone. Employees with young children and those who care for elderly relatives often need more flexibility.
- Other employees, typically young professionals, prefer access to an office, and it provides them with a space to gather, collaborate, and socialize. This is especially important for employees who have moved to Ireland for work.
- Commuters are often deprived of personal time and may switch to remote work or a hybrid schedule.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a global workplace. Our advice? Listen to your employees before making decisions and keep checking in regularly. You may be surprised by how people’s preferences change.