The Remote Possibility: How the Tech Industry Is Leading the Way for Remote and Freelance Work

Tech industry employees are finding that remote work truly helps to boost their creativity and productivity. Being allowed to work in one’s own space, using their personal creative process makes a world of difference when it comes to an industry that relies on individual thought and innovation. According to CNBC, an average full-day employee could spend up to 200 hours a year just commuting to and from work. With remote work, this is obviously eliminated, allowing for more flexibility in both the personal and professional lives of geeks.

Benefits also include a better work-life balance. According to a Business Insider survey, employees who work remotely on a regular basis report that they are happier. They also tend to stay at their jobs longer than those who work from the office. Our very own VP of marketing Jen Maidenberg has been known to be very open about how she often tires of a “full-time office job’s on-the-clock mentality toward productivity and its always-in-the-office methodology toward collaboration.”

It’s not only the employees who are benefitting from this new way of thinking. By offering remote positions to their staff, companies are reaping in the rewards of adding the top and otherwise unreachable talent from all corners of the globe to their payroll, while also saving on costs and retaining a more diverse workforce. 

Automattic, the $3 billion company behind WordPress, is proud of its hiring policies that prioritize talent over location. They currently have over 715 employees working global remote jobs in 61 countries. IOD benefits from this strategy, as well.

Those Doing It Best

Some are doing it better than others. 

PowerToFly. was established in 2014 with the goal of connecting Fortune 500 companies and startups with women seeking employment with organizations that promote gender diversity and inclusion. There are close to a thousand remote positions being offered through their job search engine.

The company has successfully established a thriving remote-based work culture. 95% of employees would recommend working there, and CEOs Milena Berry and and Katherine Zaleski have a 94% approval rating. In the words of Beyonce, say it with me, “Who runs the world?”

At PowerToFly, the focus is on “results and not time spent in the office.” When asked whether other corporations were becoming more receptive to remote work, the founders themselves replied, “We’ve processed more than two million dollars in paychecks for women around the world. We work with talented women spanning 6 continents, 138 countries and over 1,000 cities.” So I’m going to let you decide that one for yourself.

Another remote work leader is the well-known DevOps platform GitLab. The company, which is 100% remote, in fact calls itself the world’s largest fully remote company. GitLab employees are spread out in over 65 countries across the globe, and the company provides a guide for working remotely. They currently have over 100 open remote positions, and 97% of employees are willing to recommend them to a friend, while the same percentage approve of GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij.

GitLab credits its remote working success to having daily morning meetings with the whole team, limiting it to 45 minutes and ensuring a Google docs agenda. The company also offers flexible work hours, though most choose to work during regular office hours. Sid also has a weekly personal meeting with each member of his team, assessing their happiness and ensuring they are not lacking anything they may need. The team also makes sure to hang out socially with one another, in person if possible or on a virtual platform.

Are you a tech expert? Do you want to share your knowledge with others? Do you love research? Contact us to learn more about freelance opportunities at IOD.

How Other Companies Are Jumping on Board

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently sent an email to all his employees to inform them that they will be allowed to work from home indefinitely—even after Covid-19 concerns pass and shutdowns end. A Twitter insider said that this decision had fused with the company’s broader mission to enable their staff to work remotely. He went on to say that “the past few months have proven we can make that work. Opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs.”

Not to be outdone by the character-counting company, this announcement was soon followed by Mark Zuckerberg who posted to his personal page that Facebook is also planning to support remote work, adding that “over the next 5-10 years, I think we could have 50% of our people working remotely, but we’re going to get there in a measured way.” He then went on to admit:

My own thinking on this has changed over the past few months. I’ve always felt that our teams worked better when they could physically be together. We even designed our offices so there are places where people can walk freely and have those serendipitous conversations that can lead to really good ideas. But I think that technology can help us overcome this, and the lockdown has shown us what’s possible with the tools we have today.

Microsoft recently told Geekwire that employees would be able to choose to work remotely through October 2020. The tech giant was one of the first in its area to inform employees of this new regulation back in March. With more than 54,000 people just in the Seattle region alone, it’s safe to say this is one giant step for Microsoft, and an even bigger one for their employees.

Other tech giants such as Google and Amazon have all informed their employees that they may continue working from home through the fall regardless of when their offices open—though it remains to be seen if they will be invested enough to keep this system indefinitely.

How Your Company Can Become Remote

With the help of the technology on offer today, it’s never been easier to set your office up remotely.

Rethink Your Security

First and foremost, ensure that you have the correct security measures in place. A virtual private network (VPN) gives employees access to the secure corporate network and intranet without exposing it to the rest of the world. While a VPN certainly isn’t a new technology, according to a CISO MAG survey published at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 30% of employees working from home reported they weren’t using the company’s VPN to log in remotely. Whether they were using other options for secure login was not indicated. There has also been a shift to VPN-less solutions in recent years as well as zero-trust security architecture, in which every user is authenticated.

Choose the Right Communication Tools

Fast communication is key to successful collaboration, especially when working remotely. At IOD, we already take advantage of the numerous collaboration tools available to ensure work gets done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Slack, the popular instant messaging tool, allows us to create a “virtual office” with its channels feature. 

When it comes to the G Suite collaboration tools, Google Hangouts is perfect for the social aspect, and Google Docs and Slides make collaborating on documents and presentations simple. It can also be easily accessed from any device which makes you more available and not tied down to a specific space.

Zoom, too, has become the most widely used video conferencing platform for remote work. It allows for an immersive experience with the ability to produce high-quality, high-definition video as well as high-quality audio, all-encompassing with things like recording, easy content share from a mobile device, from your laptop, or in a room.

Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) tools such as AWS WorkSpaces and Windows Virtual Desktop enable secure desktop access from any device and have also seen a surge in popularity as companies shift to remote work.

By training your staff on the different platforms or on the newest features available that are key for a successful remote lifestyle, you’ll ensure fewer mistakes and much, much more happiness all around.

While many companies are using these tools already, when it comes to implementing remote work policies, it’s often more about a change in mentality. There’s a common misconception that employees won’t be as productive with less monitoring, but according to Business News Daily, remote employees work an average of 1.4 additional days per month when compared with on-site employees, adding up to over three extra weeks of work per annum.

Check In Regularly

Check in regularly with your employees to make sure everyone is handling the new work setup and tools, and see what else managers can do to ensure the best and most successful work outcome. Regularly scheduled one-on-one, “face-to-face” meetings help team leaders get a real sense of how communication is going.

At the same time, however, it’s important to remember not to over-communicate. Make sure that everyone is clear on what is needed upfront to avoid constant interruptions and messages that could disrupt the actual work that needs to be done.

For some, working remotely means never switching off. This could be seen as a downside for those nay-sayers fighting this new regime. So encourage your employees to maintain a structure when planning out their days, such as including work hours and breaks in their calendars—just as they would in the office, minus, of course, the lunch stealing and smelly microwave.

Final Note

For me, the ability to be more productive, while working from the places I find to be the most suitable to creative flow and productivity, and in my own time, is like winning the employment lottery.

The time is now and it’s never been easier to use technology to our advantage to bring the world together in a way that’s never been seen before.

Catch you on a virtual platform somewhere!

Are you a tech expert looking for freelance work? Now’s your opportunity to become an influencer. Contact IOD today.

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