Team Productivity

Why remote teams (can) work so well

future of remote teams

In the UK, many businesses still have a trust issue. They want people working where they can see them. What’s the reasoning behind this? Do we think people are more productive when they’re together, or are we cynical about letting them work independently?

All too often, managers feel that their staff need to be supervised. Either that, or they think having everyone close facilitates productivity in the team. In fact, statistics prove that the opposite is true, and a body in the office is no guarantee of a job well done.

Increasing output

If you want to improve efficiency and speed up results, research proves that remote working holds the key. It’s possible to achieve a significant uplift in productivity, without employing even one additional member of staff.

Need proof? There are dozens of studies that back this up:

Those three are just a handful. There are many, many more.

The key in each case is that the output of remote workers was measured, and the business benefited from remote working. Each company proactively encouraged staff to make a choice – the choice that makes them happy.

Remote working also doesn’t mean total freedom. Expectations must be clear. It’s still possible to hold daily meetings when people are dialling in from home, but don’t drop the meetings altogether. If you have boundaries, and fixed check-ins, you’ll probably find that employees strive to meet them. They may actually strive harder than they would if they were at a desk.

Learning to reap the rewards

There’s a reason for remote working to be desirable. It’s flexible, and convenient. It saves money and time. Often, home working is seen as a privilege; something that must be earned. That just makes other employees envy or resent remote workers.

Figures show that the oldest, more senior employees tend to work remotely, presumably because they’ve “earned it”, or because they can be trusted. For remote working to be viable, this prejudice needs to change.

It’s also important to recognise employee preference. Some people don’t like working alone. Some look forward to seeing workmates. Some just like a reason to get out of the house every day. One person may dread the drive to work, while another finds their daily train journey a vital time to zone out.

Marissa Meyer famously banned remote working at Yahoo!. One employee called the move a “morale killer”. If your business is brave enough to offer everybody a choice, you may be amazed at what they can achieve together – even when they are apart.


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