Why We Love Remote Work

Ward Andrews
By Ward Andrews
Cover Image for Why We Love Remote Work

Remember when the idea of remote work would draw a skeptical smile? It was a luxury and a perk. If you allowed one person to work from home, the entire office might revolt in jealousy. You’d lose all control over your team and productivity would crater.

Today, remote work is not only accepted but embraced. According to Gusto, an average of 6.6% of American workers across all industries had a completely remote work arrangement in January 2020. By May 2023, that had risen to an average of 15.8%. The trend is even higher in the tech industry, where an average 40.3% of employees are remote workers.

The rise of remote work has shifted how we think about productivity and the office. It has even become a recruiting and retention tool. LinkedIn reported job postings mentioning remote work increased by 319% in the U.S. between January 2022 and March 2022.

There is now an entire generation of workers who expect to work from home most, if not all, of the time. Companies have discovered huge cost savings by allowing employees to work from home.

Despite these advantages, many business leaders are starting to issue return-to-office mandates. According to some, remote work is either already dead or it’s dying.

Not at Drawbackwards. We love remote work. We're confident that the shortsighted trend of returning to the office will stagnate and remote work will prevail in the long run.

Sure, there are challenges to remote work. It works better for some teams and work environments than others. But our clients experience real efficiency and innovation gains from our remote team.

What’s the secret to our remote team success? It all comes down to trust. When you have a strong foundation of trust within your team and with your clients, you can execute faster and better no matter where you are. Here’s why we’re continuing to champion remote teams for ourselves and our clients.

Remote Work (with the Right Tools and Processes) Can Actually Boost Productivity

There's a popular belief that remote work leads to decreased productivity. But numerous studies have shown that remote teams can be just as, if not more, productive than their in-office counterparts. Without the distractions of the office, remote employees can often focus on tasks with fewer interruptions.

Remote work empowers employees to structure their workday in a way that suits their individual needs and preferences. Remote workers have the freedom to choose their work environment and align their work schedules with the time of day when they do their best work.

But productivity requires good tools and even better rules. Your team needs to agree to certain ground rules that enable it to get the most out of the many online collaborative tools and technologies.

In Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Special Report from September 2022, 87% of employees said they were productive in managing their work tasks. But only 12% of leaders said they had full confidence that their team was productive after shifting to a hybrid arrangement.

This gap between leadership and employees is often indicative of a lack of trust. Leaders feel they have less control over their team’s productivity because they can’t keep close tabs on what their employees are doing.

Productivity is a product of two things: collaboration and communication. We rely on a whole suite of online tools to keep our remote team connected and help them collaborate. Like most digital teams, we rely on Slack and its Huddles feature for quick calls and check-ins.

Google Suite, Figma, and other tools allow our teams to create content and comment on each other’s work. It's often faster and more effective than if we had a meeting or call. We can work on designs in batches and send it to the client for review, comment and approval while we start work on the next batch.

Asana and other project management tools help us track specific tasks and deliver against deadlines. This helps us provide better transparency to our clients about the state of their projects.

The key to using these tools is creating standards and expectations for how to use them. The office is not a magical place that creates productivity. These tools are also not quick fixes or cures for poor collaboration and communication. You need a set of ground rules that everybody can agree to and abide by wherever you are working.

Remote Work Fosters Better Work-Life Balance

The reason so many employers offer and promote flexible remote work arrangements now is because the job market demands it. The cat is already out of the bag on the work-life balance that can come with remote work. What was once considered a luxury is now a necessity.

Long commutes, rigid schedules, and the pressure to always be available can take a toll on employees' well-being. McKinsey recently reported that 80 million Americans worked remotely some days of the week in 2022, and 87% of workers said they would spend an average of three days a week working from home if the option was available.

That’s because they want the freedom to create a schedule that suits their needs. Whether it's balancing childcare responsibilities, taking a midday break to exercise, or working during their most productive hours, people expect a balance between their professional and personal lives.

With remote work, employees can spend more time with family. They can pick up their kids from school and take them to after-school activities. They can attend soccer practices and ballet recitals. The time they spent in the car alone driving to the office can now be spent running errands or attending to personal and family matters.

Remote work allows flexibility in how people manage their time, where they choose to live, and where they choose to work. Many people can’t put a price on that kind of freedom and flexibility.

Remote Work Helps Us to Work Better with Clients

One of the biggest challenges in our work is that we’re often on the outside looking in at how our clients do their work. That gives us a great perspective to find blind spots that our clients can’t see. But it also means we need to work extra hard to blend in with those same teams when it’s time to put ideas into action.

As our clients have become more remote, we’ve been able to better blend into their processes and work as an integrated team. If we’re not in the same city, it’s no big deal. We can still work as if we’re in the same room and save money and time on less travel.

We can bounce from one team to another within a couple of hours through online meetings and get all the information we need to push projects ahead. If we’re stuck or looking for missing pieces, our clients are an email, Slack message or online meeting away.

Sometimes we even share our best practices with clients who are new to remote work or hybrid work. We introduce them to new tools, and new ways of using those tools, which in turn helps them build more efficiency in their processes.

We can also tap into a global talent pool like never before. We're not limited to hiring within a specific geographic area. We can recruit the best and brightest from around the world. This not only leads to a more diverse and inclusive team, but also brings fresh perspectives and ideas to the table for our clients.

Remote work enables us to deliver faster results for our clients. We can exchange information faster than if we had to do everything in-person. That’s always been the nature of our work, but we can move even faster now that our clients are working the same way.

Remote Work Doesn’t Solve It All

While we love remote work, we’re not so naive to believe it’s a cure-all. Communication is more challenging when team members are scattered across different time zones. Some employees may struggle with feelings of isolation. Others can find it difficult to disconnect from work when their home is their office.

Some of the benefits of good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings can't be replaced by online tools. That’s why we try to get our core team together once a week for in-person interactions at the office. By agreeing to a common in-office day, we get the opportunity for informal conversations and real face time.

We’ve gotten very good at hosting meetings and workshops online, but there’s an extra level of bonding that happens when we can get together with our clients in the same room for a half-day or full-day session. You build trust with each other, eat lunch together and talk about your hobbies and families. The resulting insights and camaraderie make our future work together that much stronger. It helps us build the mutual trust we need to make our remote work more effective.

Let Us Put Our Remote Team to Work for You

Remote work isn’t a panacea for the problems of the office, but it also doesn’t have to be a productivity killer. We’ve helped dozens of clients uncover insights and create meaningful product improvements from work locations around the world.

We’ve helped clients boost business results by cutting back on travel expenses and investing that time and money into quicker development cycles and more efficient project management. We know how to maximize the remote tools at our disposal to help your team move forward more efficiently and effectively.

Let’s talk about how we can put our remote work expertise and experience to work for you.