Remote Working Success Factors

Remote Working

A couple of months back I raised the topic of ‘The Age of the Remote Worker’.

I have to say I was very interested to see the large response this piece elicited from our readership. Clearly it is a hot subject with many people sharing their opinions and experiences in relation to this so I thought I’d follow up and invite further discussion.

Some things became clear based upon the feedback:

  • A significant portion of the contractor community has an appetite to work remotely and the reasons are numerous (convenience, lifestyle, fit for purpose for some types of work).
  • Some industries have been successful for some time in making the concept work (e.g. technical publishing) and have tooled up with cloud repositories, video conferencing and collaboration tools such as Slack and others.
  • While a benefit is realised for you as a contractor there is also a feeling of a greater risk of continuity of work. Is the work really full time? If it’s not, stringing together portions of disparate work can be challenging. Plus the ease of being terminated when you’re ‘not really there’ anyway is a perceived additional risk.
  • It can work, but there’s not nearly enough contracting opportunities that enable it.

My theme for this month in relation to remote engagements is success factors - the things that are required in order to see significant growth in this type of contract work. I came across a useful piece from the Harvard Business Review that stimulates the thinking. To be fair it addresses remote working from an employee rather than contracting perspective but I think the concepts are transferable.

The author Nicholas Bloom and a graduate student James Liang conducted a study to investigate the impact of telecommuting by comparing survey responses and performance data of two groups of employees - one that was allowed to work from home and the other a control group that was required to work in the office. The findings show that not only were the telecommuting employees happier, they were also more effective and productive. They go on to suggest why and put an interesting set of theories forward. On the subject of resistance to remote working, they suggest that middle managers’ might do so because of it being harder to feel in control. Potential sore point there.

I’m going to throw the rest of this discussion over to you the IT contractors and managers out there who have experience and consequently opinions on this matter. What are the other success factors for remote work? Feel free to email me instead of posting below and I’ll publish your collective thoughts next month.